Dr Karen Fisher

BA/MSocSc (Waikato), PhD (ANU)

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Associate Professor

Research | Current

I am a Human Geographer interested in society-environment interactions.  My research programme is organised under the general theme: environmental governance and politics of resource use.  My research interests fall broadly under the following areas:

  • Māori co-governance and indigenous knowledge
  • Environmental governance and development
  • Political economy and political ecology
  • Science, knowledge and policy

I have conducted research in the Philippines focused on the sociopolitical dimensions of water governance and development with a particular interest in the role of local government in mediating the needs of local communities with national objectives.  Since 2012, I have been involved in collaborative transdisciplinary research projects that focus on knowledge production for sustainability in the context of marine environments and urban water. I also conduct research using feminist and critical theories to explore knowledge production and methodologies. I am also part of the Auckland-based Puāwai Writing Collective, which performs feminist research focused on slow scholarship, care, and the neoliberal university.

Teaching | Current

My teaching reflects my interest in environmental management and governance more broadly and draws on cases from a range of different contexts within the Asia-Pacific Region, including New Zealand and Australia.

At undergraduate level I teach on GEOG324 Critical Perspectives on Sustainable Development and GEOG205(S2C) Environment and Society. 

At postgraduate level I coordinate ENVMGT744 Resource Management.

Postgraduate supervision

Completed PhD students

  • Brendon Blue (2018) - Searching for the ideal river? New directions in geographical geomorphology (Co-supervisor; Primary Supervisor Prof. Gary Brierley)
  • Barbara Hock (2018) - The role of visualisations in eliciting attitudes in sustainable forestry, and the attitudes elicited (Primary supervisor; Co-supervisor Dr Tim Payn, SCION)
  • Stephen FitzHerbert (2016) - Geographies of economy-making: the articulation of Taewa Maori across Aotearoa New Zealand (Co-supervisor; Primary supervisor A. Prof. Nick Lewis)
  • Bizhan Rahnama (2016) - Negotiating Co-governance of the Waikato River: Political projects at work (Co-supervisor; Primary supervisor A. Prof. Nick Lewis)
  • Kathryn Davies (2015) - Many voices of the Manukau: participatory modelling, ecosystem services and decision making in New Zealand (Primay supervisor; Co-supervisors A. Prof. Mark Dickson Prof. Richard Le Heron, Prof. Simon Thrush)
  • Roger Baars (2015) - The Good Citizen: Citizenship Education and Youth in Singapore (Primary supervisor; Co-Supervisor Dr David Hayward)
  • Claire Gregory (2013) - Enabling sustainable river futures: exploring institutional interventions (Co-supervisor; Primary supervisor Prof. Gary Brierley, Co-supervisor Prof. Richard Le Heron)

Current PhD students

  • Andrew Allison - Identifying the controlling dynamics within social-ecological coastal systes (Co-supervisor; Primary supervisor A. Prof. Mark Dickson, Co-supervisor Prof. Simon Thrush)
  • Claudia Gonelli -The social construction of wind energy in China and New Zealand: Development and perceptions in the political culture context (Co-supervisor; Primary supervisor A. Prof. Hong-Key Yoon)
  • Danielle Johnson - Exploring indigenous health, wellbeing and climate change adaptation in the Kaipara Catchment of Aotearoa New Zealand (Primay supervisor; co-supervisor Dr Meg Parsons)
  • Victoria Jollands - Fisheries governance and food security (Co-supervisor; Primary supervisor Prof. Simon Thrush)
  • Leane Makey - Integrated Catchment-Coastal Management: an ecofeminist autoethnography from the Kaipara Harbour (Primary supervisor; co-supervisor Dr Meg Parsons)
  • Gabby O'Connor - Engaging Communities in Issues of Environmental Complexity through the Art-Science Nexus: The Unseen – an art, science and community project (Co-supervisor; Primary Supervisor A. Prof Alys Longley; Co-supervisor A. Prof Carolyn Lundquist)

Committees/Professional groups/Services

New Zealand Geographical Society

  • Fellow
  • Chair of the Auckland Branch
  • Membership Officer, National Executive

eSocSci Network Convenor: Women and Gender Geographies Research Network, 2013-2018

Royal Society of New Zealand, Professional Member

Institute of Australia Geographers, Member

Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

  • Pinhate, T. B., Parsons, M., Fisher, K., Crease, R. P., & Baars, R. (2020). A crack in the automobility regime? Exploring the transition of São Paulo to sustainable urban mobility. Cities, 107.10.1016/j.cities.2020.102914
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Meg Parsons
  • Paterson-Shallard, H., Fisher, K. T., Parsons, M., & Makey, L. (2020). Holistic approaches to river restoration in Aotearoa New Zealand. ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE & POLICY, 106, 250-259. 10.1016/j.envsci.2019.12.013
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Meg Parsons
  • Davies, K. K., Fisher, K. T., Couzens, G., Allison, A., van Putten, E. I., Dambacher, J. M., ... Lundquist, C. J. (2020). Trans-Tasman Cumulative Effects Management: A Comparative Study. Frontiers in Marine Science, 710.3389/fmars.2020.00025
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Andrew Allison, Carolyn Lundquist
  • Parsons, M., & Fisher, K. (2020). Decolonising Settler Hazardscapes of the Waipā: Māori and Pākehā Remembering of Flooding in the Waikato 1900–1950. In S. McKinnon, M. Cook (Eds.) Disasters in Australia and New Zealand: Historical Approaches to Understanding Catastrophe (pp. 159-177). London: Palgrave Macmillan. 10.1007/978-981-15-4382-1
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Meg Parsons
  • Parsons, M., & Fisher, K. (2020). Indigenous peoples and transformations in freshwater governance and management. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability10.1016/j.cosust.2020.03.006
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Meg Parsons
  • Parsons, M., Nalau, J., Fisher, K., & Brown, C. (2019). Disrupting path dependency: Making room for Indigenous knowledge in river management. GLOBAL ENVIRONMENTAL CHANGE-HUMAN AND POLICY DIMENSIONS, 56, 95-113. 10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2019.03.008
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Meg Parsons
  • Davies, K., Collective, P., Fisher, K., Le Heron, E., Sharp, E., & Spiers, R. (2019). Assembling disruptive practice in the neoliberal university: an ethics of care. GEOGRAFISKA ANNALER SERIES B-HUMAN GEOGRAPHY, 101 (1), 33-43. 10.1080/04353684.2019.1568201
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Emma Sharp
  • Driver, E., Parsons, M., & Fisher, K. (2018). Technically political: The post-politics(?) of the New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme. GEOFORUM, 97, 253-267. 10.1016/j.geoforum.2018.09.023
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Meg Parsons


Contact details

Primary office location

SCIENCE CENTRE 301 - Bldg 301
Level 5, Room 509
New Zealand

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