Cassandra is a political scientist, who began her academic life as a natural scientist.
My research expertise is the politics of climate change and climate change has been the constant thread throughout my career. When I was a naïve 18-year-old studying a Bachelor of Science I thought I could become an atmospheric chemist and solve climate change.
In the third year of my degree, studying a topic on environmental policy, I had a light bulb moment. I realised that the climate change problem isn’t a scientific one. You can come up with a solution or a fix, but it doesn’t mean anything if you can’t convince people to do something. That moment re-framed climate change as political for me. I then moved into the politics and policy side of academia.
All policy outcomes are shaped by political forces, so it is necessary to understand that process. My work is at the intersection between politics and policy and how we formulate effective policy, including investigation of influences on the formulation of policy. The purpose of my research is to bring attention to strategies, processes and tools that can improve the effectiveness of climate policy.
I lead the Climate and Sustainability Policy Research (CASPR) group. We focus on policy research to enable better outcomes on climate and environmental policy. Our current projects include work on climate adaptation in South Australia and climate security in the Indo-Pacific. My research has attracted over $1m in funding including Category 1 funding. I have been awarded visiting appointments and esteemed fellowships, including by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
I believe in the power of education for social and political change and value the opportunity to work with public sector leaders and emerging social change agents to identify ways to ensure a safer climate future.
Honours and Awards
Cassandra Star, Peter Tangney, Michelle Jones, Helen McLaren & Claire Nettle. 2020. Ensuring effective outcomes and implementation for climate adaptation policy: reviewing a co-designed, stakeholder-engaged, evidence-based approach to decision-making. Flinders University Climate Response Seed Grant/Resilient South $43000
Beverley Clarke, Cassandra Star & Peter Tangney. 2020. Integrated assessment of local governments’ coastal adaptation planning and practice. Department for Environment and Water (SA) Coastal Research and Development Grant $74300
Helen McLaren & Cassandra Star. 2020. Women's Interdisciplinary Round Table: COVID-19 and the Future of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). DFAT/Australia–Indonesia Institute $21013
As a tertiary educator of over twenty years’ standing, I have made a significant contribution to the transition of students from diverse backgrounds and pathways into tertiary education. I have also engaged students in reflecting about their place in the social and political world, introduced them to the ways in which their personal choices are political, and demonstrated how political events affect them personally.
I have taught students across a range of contexts and from a diversity of backgrounds: international students, students from rural backgrounds, distance learning students, first-in-family students, those from lower SES backgrounds, students from alternative entry pathways, Indigenous students and incarcerated students studying externally.
My personal philosophy of teaching is to place the development of the individual learner at the centre of all I do. My approach to teaching diverse cohorts of undergraduate and postgraduate students centres on dialogue, investigation and making connections between politics and daily life. I emphasise communication and a supportive learning environment. I recognise each student’s particular learning interests and needs, and provide individual help, feedback and engagement as needed to support their development.
In my current role, I teach postgraduate students in a vocationally-focused program. I aim to provide an appreciation and understanding of theory and scholarly practice, especially in relation to environmental policy and research skills. I do this via my teaching in two specialised topics (POAD9129 Environmental policy and governance and POLI9004 The politics of climate change), and my coordination of our capstone experience topics (POAD9140 Public policy internship, POAD9057 Professional research project and POAD9150/9050 Masters project/dissertation). I bring to this context significant experience and expertise, and a scholarly approach to teaching that has been recognised by a Graduate Certificate in Tertiary Teaching and Learning with Dean’s commendation.
Winner, Flinders University 3MT Competition - AUG 2014
Higher Degree Publication Prize - NOV 2016
Deputy Vice-Chancellor’s Best Higher Degree by Research Student Publication, Flinders University ($1000 prize) - NOV 2018
Student Publication Prize (x2), School of Social and Policy Studies, Flinders University ($300 prize) - NOV 2017
I have a significant commitment to engagement with the community on policy formulation and climate issues. I regularly provide professional development services to state and Federal government agencies, as well as for other governments in the Asia-Pacific. This professional development is co-designed with the agencies I work with and is always rated as excellent. I served as the academic coordinator of the Public Sector Management Program for the Australian Public Service Commission from 2013-2015 and managed the team that delivered this $1.6m dollar project from Flinders University.
I have chaired government boards. For example, I was the chair of the Outer Southern Innovative Community Action Network for DECD. The focus of the committee was on support, capacity building and innovative solutions for youth disengaged from education. I am a member of the Institute of Public Administration, South Australian branch’s Strategic Advisory Committee. We provide strategic advice to IPAA’s executive on public sector engagement and development.
I have a long running leadership role in the international environmental politics and policy academic community. I was an inaugural member of the Ecopolitics Association of Australasia – an association committed to bring together academic, activist and practitioner voices on environmental politics. I served as online officer and then President, as well as convening two conferences during the Association’s life. The Ecopolitics Association then became The Environmental Politics and Policy Standing Committee of the Australian Political Studies Association. I am currently co-convenor of the standing committee.
I am currently a member of the Editorial Collective for Social Alternatives, and a memberof the Editorial Boards of Journal of Teaching and Learning for Graduate Employability and Politics and Governance.
I am a member of The Flinders College of Distinguished Educators, the University of Southern Queensland Teaching Academy and Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia.
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