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Rochelle Spencer

Co-Director, Centre for Responsible Citizenship and Sustainability, Murdoch University

I am founding co-director of the Centre for Responsible Citizenship and Sustainability - an inter- and trans-disciplinary research hub that endeavours to shape new thinking and practice around three core streams: development; sustainability; nonprofit management & leadership.

I hold several discipline-specific roles including:

* University Chair, Research for Development Impact Network, governed by the Australian Council for International Development
* Founding executive committee member, Development Studies Association of Australia
* Deputy Editor in Chief, Development in Practice, a Taylor & Francis journal

I’m interested in the relationship between anthropology and development, particularly how development practices shape and influence social and cultural behaviours. Much of my research these days pertains to gender and rural livelihoods employing participatory research methodologies; I am interested in how development ‘beneficiaries’ experience, embrace and subvert development interventions. Another research interest of late, centres around the intersections between agricultural and mining—particularly the lived experiences of remote and rural communities living adjacent to extractive activities.

My research embodies my commitment to the application of anthropological knowledge to development practice emphasising participatory processes. I draw on my cross-cultural expertise to inform my research with the intention of shaping local development practices. My strengths lie in applying participatory approaches to the design, implementation and evaluation of development projects that help to inform technical expertise, programming and policy. In this way, my research has significant applied real-world outcomes by informing the development policy and processes of non-governmental organisations (NGOs), the private sector, government, and development agencies to ensure the inclusion of local perspectives in development.

My rural livelihoods research in Africa focuses on elements such as the decisions that smallholder farmers, pastoralists and livestock herders make about their crops, animals and land. My interest is in how these choices by poor farmers are constrained by lack of access to services, markets, credit, poor governance, weak policies, ethnic/gender/cultural/educational barriers, and political instability resulting in few options to maintain secure, or sustainable food production in the face of crises, climate change, or resource extraction.

Over the past two decades, I have worked and researched with a number of NGOs including the British Red Cross, Australian Red Cross, Oxfam Australia, Global Exchange, Catholic Relief Services Southern Africa and Nuwul Environmental Services – an Indigenous social enterprise in northeast Arnhem Land, Australia.

Currently, I lecture undergraduate units in international aid and sustainable development and postgraduate units in the Masters of Development Studies. My teaching concerns the role of agency in development processes and the structural inequalities that lead to uneven and unequal development. Students learn critical skills in analysing how development discourses and practices shape the everyday lives of marginalised people, that often have unintended consequences, both positive and negative. They learn about power relations and how to bring about change. We explore sustainable development approaches for living within a safe and equitable operating space of the planetary boundaries in the Anthropocene. I supervise Masters research theses across a number of Masters programmes and a cohort of PhD projects in various topics pertaining to processes and practices of development.

Experience

  • 2012–present
    Senior lecturer, Development Studies, Murdoch University
  • 2014–present
    co-Director, Centre for Responsible Citizenship and Sustainability, Murdoch University
  • 2007–2012
    ARC Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Centre for Research on Social Inclusion, Macquarie University

Education

  • 2007 
    Macquarie University, PhD

Publications

  • 2021
    Mining legacies – Broadening understandings of mining impacts, The Extractive Industries and Society
  • 2021
    A Social Licence to Operate Legitimacy Test: Enhancing Sustainability Through Contact Quality, Journal of Cleaner Production
  • 2021
    A mining legacies lens: from externalities to wellbeing in extractive industries, The Extractive Industries and Society
  • 2021
    Sovereign Wealth Funds, Local Content Policies and CSR: Developments in the Extractives Sector, Springer
  • 2021
    Mainstreaming climate adaptation into social protection: the issues yet to be addressed, Journal of International Development
  • 2021
    Sustainable farmer-to-farmer extension – the experiences of private service providers in Zambia, International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability
  • 2020
    Unseen existences: stories of life from Venembeli, Papua New Guinea, The Extractive Industries and Society
  • 2018
    Uptake and Resistance: the rural poor and user-pays agricultural extension in Malawi, World Development Perspectives
  • 2018
    Disciplining the Undisciplined: perspectives on responsible citizenship, corporate social responsibility and sustainability, Springer
  • 2017
    Capacity Development and Indigenous Social Enterprise: the case of the Rirratjingu Clan in northeast Arnhem Land, Journal of Management and Organisation
  • 2017
    Development Tourism in Cuba: Experiential Learning and Solidarity in the Development Tourism Encounter, Tourism Planning and Development
  • 2017
    Pedagogies of Engagement: a case study of school-based service-learning, Third Sector Review
  • 2017
    Volunteering as a Subject for Research, Third Sector Review
  • 2016
    A Third Space Social Enterprise: Closing the Gap through Cross-Cultural Learning, Australian Aboriginal Studies Journal
  • 2016
    Australian Indigenous social enterprise: measuring performance, Journal of Enterprising Communities: People and Places in the Global Economy
  • 2014
    Indigenous Entrepreneurship: Closing the Gap on local terms, Journal of Australian Indigenous Issues
  • 2010
    Development Tourism: Lessons from Cuba, Ashgate

Grants and Contracts

  • 2018
    Analysing Gender Transformative Approaches to Agricultural Development with Ethnic Minority Communities in Vietnam
    Role:
    Chief Investigator
    Funding Source:
    Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research
  • 2015
    Social, Economic, Institutional Dimensions Network
    Role:
    Murdoch lead
    Funding Source:
    National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility
  • 2014
    Indigenous Social Enterprise
    Role:
    Lead Anthropologist
    Funding Source:
    Murdoch University
  • 2013
    Agroenterprise Africa Project
    Role:
    lead Anthropologist
    Funding Source:
    Australia Development Research Awards
  • 2008
    Capacity Development and Australia Red Cross
    Role:
    Chief Investigator
    Funding Source:
    ARC

Professional Memberships

  • Development Studies Association of Australia
  • Australian Anthropological Society
  • Research for Development Network