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:

  • 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, and co-coordinate GEOG701 Research in Practice.

Postgraduate supervision

Completed PhD students

  • 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 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 (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 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)
  • 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)
  • Danielle Johnson - Climate change adaptation in the Kaipara Harbour (Primary supervisor; co-supervisor Dr Meg Parsons)

Committees/Professional groups/Services

New Zealand Geographical Society

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

eSocSci Network Co-convenor: Women and Gender Geographies Research Network

Royal Society of New Zealand, Professional Member

Institute of Australia Geographers, Member

Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)


Contact details

Primary office location

SCIENCE CENTRE 301 - Bldg 301
New Zealand

Web links