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Professor, Education, Environmental Sustainability and Childhood Studies, Swinburne University of Technology

Dr. Karen Malone is Professor of Education, Environmental Sustainability and Childhood Studies at Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne. Professor Malone researches in urban ecologies, environmental sustainability education, science education and nature and childhood studies with a specific focus on damaged urban landscapes. A significant amount of her research has been conducted in majority and minority world nations funded by UNICEF and UNESCO. She is Director of the current global research project Children in the Anthropocene and Co-Director with Dr Tracy of the Swinburne research and education project Young Environmental Sustainability Education in the Anthropocene. Her research and writing focues on posthuman and new materailist theories and approaches using postqualitative research methodologies with young children and their families in a variety of geographically diverse locations. In her career Professor Malone has attracted over 2.4 million dollars in research grants, awards and consultancies and currently has two ARC Discovery and one ARC Linkage grant in for the 2021 round. Professor Malone most recent funded projects include in 2019 a HORIZON QLD govt funded project “Mapping Scientific Concepts through Nature Play in Early Childhood Education” with researchers from Southern Cross University and RMIT and in 2020 “Citizens with Rats: From citizen science toward non-anthropocentric education with young people and difficult urban companions (CitiRats©)” funded by the Academy of Finland where she is an external research fellow with staff from University of Oulu and University of Helsinki. Throughout her 25-year academic career Malone has received research funds by government and international agencies including UNESCO, UNICEF, US Peacecorps, The Smith Family. Recently, her key focus has been on conducting research for UNICEF’s Child Friendly Cities and schools program in majority world nations. She is founder and chair, UNICEF Child-Friendly Cities Asia Pacific Network and an advisory member of UNICEF’s Research Committee. The United Nations research was supported by participatory research workshops with thousands of young children and their families from a variety of geographically diverse locations. Children she has engaged with include HIV AIDS orphans in South Africa, children living in rural and urban villages in the Cook Islands and Papua New Guinea, children living in poverty in cities and towns in Albania, Indonesia, Japan, Kazakhstan, Tanzania and South Africa. She has also conducted geographically place based research to support sustainability initiatives with children and their communities in slum and transitional villages in Asia including India, Nepal and children from South America living in Chile and Bolivia. In 2013 she won the prestigious Australian Planning Institute of Australia Presidential award for best urban planning project of the year for Dapto Dreaming, a project where school children designed with Stockland urban developers a new greenfield community. In 2014 she was recognized for her work with children, families and schools and kindergartens in polluted post-Soviet cities by receiving a Presidential award for outstanding service to country by Kazakhstan President, Mr. Nursultan Nazarbayev.


  • –present
    Professor, Environmental Sustainability and Childhood Studies, Swinburne University of Technology