Dr Karen Fisher

BA/MSocSc (Waikato), PhD (ANU)

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Senior Lecturer

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:

  • Sustainable development
  • Political ecology
  • Environmental governance and development
  • Science, knowledge and policy

My research has been concerned with sustainable development and sustainability.  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 am also interested in exploring the methodological issues that arise in the conduct of development-oriented research.

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, and co-coordinate GEOG701 Research in Practice.

Postgraduate supervision

Completed PhD students

  • Stephen FitzHerbert (2016) - Geographies of economy-making: the articulation of Taewa Maori across Aotearoa New Zealand (Co-supervisor; Primary supervisor Dr Nick Lewis)
  • Bizhan Rahnama (2016) - Negotiating Co-governance of the Waikato River: Political projects at work (Co-supervisor; Primary supervisor Dr Nick Lewis)
  • Kathryn Davies (2015) - Many voices of the Manukau: participatory modelling, ecosystem services and decision making in New Zealand (Primay supervisor; Co-supervisors Dr Mark Dickson Prof. Richard Le Heron, Prof. Simon Thrush)
  • Roger Baars (2014) - The Good Citizen: Citizenship Education and Youth in Singapore (Primary supervisor; Co-Supervisor Dr David Hayward)
  • Claire Gregory (2012) - 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 Dr 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)
  • Barbara Hock - Visualisations for sustainable forestry (Primary supervisor; Co-supervisor Dr Tim Payn, SCION)
  • 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 (Co-supervisor; Primary supervisor Dr Brad Coombes)

Committees/Professional groups/Services

New Zealand Geographical Society

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

Professional Member of the Royal Society of New Zealand

Member, Institute of Australia Geographers

Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

  • Gampell, A. V., Gaillard, J. C., Parsons, M., & Fisher, K. (2017). Beyond Stop Disasters 2.0: an agenda for exploring the contribution of video games to learning about disasters. Environmental Hazards, 1-12. 10.1080/17477891.2016.1275502
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Meg Parsons, Anthony Gampell, JC Gaillard
  • Watkins, A., & Fisher, K. (2016). Gender, sex, space and place: Women and gender geographies in Aotearoa New Zealand. New Zealand Geographer, 72 (3), 226-229. 10.1111/nzg.12144
  • Parsons, M., Fisher, K., & Nalau, J. (2016). Alternative approaches to co-design: insights from indigenous/academic research collaborations. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, 20, 99-105. 10.1016/j.cosust.2016.07.001
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Meg Parsons
  • Le Heron, R., Lewis, N., Fisher, K., Thrush, S., Lundquist, C., Hewitt, J., & Ellis, J. (2016). Non-sectarian scenario experiments in socio-ecological knowledge building for multi-use marine environments: Insights from New Zealand's Marine Futures project. Marine Policy, 67, 10-21. 10.1016/j.marpol.2016.01.022
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Richard Le Heron, Simon Thrush, Carolyn Lundquist
  • Fisher, K. (2016). Coordinating and situating resilience multiple. Dialogues in Human Geography, 6 (1), 32-36. 10.1177/2043820615624066
  • Lundquist, C. J., Fisher, K. T., Le Heron, R., Lewis, N. I., Ellis, J. I., Hewitt, J. E., ... Schiel, D. R. (2016). Science and Societal Partnerships to Address Cumulative Impacts. Frontiers in Marine Science, 3.10.3389/fmars.2016.00002
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Nick Lewis, Carolyn Lundquist, Richard Le Heron
  • Thrush, S. F., Lewis, N., Le Heron, R., Fisher, K. T., Lundquist, C. J., & Hewitt, J. (2016). Addressing surprise and uncertain futures in marine science, marine governance, and society. Ecology and Society, 21 (2).10.5751/ES-08574-210244
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/29943
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Richard Le Heron, Simon Thrush, Carolyn Lundquist
  • Fisher, K., Williams, M., FitzHerbert, S., Instone, L., Duffy, M., Wright, S., ... Ganambarr, R. (2015). Writing difference differently. New Zealand Geographer, 71 (1), 18-33. 10.1111/nzg.12077


Contact details

Primary location

Level 5, Room 509
New Zealand

Web links