Associate Professor Cassandra Star

Associate Professor

College of Business, Government and Law

place Social Science South (331)
GPO Box 2100, Adelaide 5001, South Australia

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, the majority 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.

  • PhD Monash University
  • Graduate Certificate in Tertiary Teaching and Learning University of Southern Queensland
  • Bachelor of Science (Australian Environmental Studies) Hons (I) Griffith University
  • Bachelor of Science (Australian Environmental Studies) Griffith University
Honours, awards and grants


  • Award, College of Business, Government and Law, Outstanding Achievement in Research (2021)
  • Award, College of Business, Government and Law, Excellence in HDR Supervision (2020).
  • Office of Learning and Teaching Citation (2014) For empowering and supporting individuals to develop their political identity and engage with the political world, enabling active global citizens.
  • Australian Learning and Teaching Council Citation (2009) For Institutional Leadership in Creating and Sustaining a University-wide Situated Professional Development Initiative to Improve Learning and Teaching Quality by Empowering Academic Teaching Staff.

Selected Grants

  • P Tangney, C Star & B Clarke. 2021. Force Exploration Hub/Department of Defence, Sub‐national Crisis Coordination and Governance $76302
  • C Star & J Holloway. 2021. Extreme event attribution in media reporting of wildfires in the US, Australia and Canada: Anti-reflexivity and the climate countermovement. Climate Social Science Network $USD44151
  • C Star, P Tangney, M Jones, H McLaren & C Nettle. 2020. Ensuring effective outcomes and implementation for climate adaptation policy: reviewing a co-designed, stakeholder-engaged, evidence-based approach to decision-making. Flinders Climate Response Seed Grant $43000

  • B Clarke, C Star & P Tangney. 2020. Integrated assessment of local governments’ coastal adaptation planning and practice. Department for Environment and Water Coastal Research and Development Grant $74300

  • H McLaren & C Star. 2020. Women's Interdisciplinary Round Table: COVID-19 and the Future of Sustainable Development Goals. DFAT/Australia–Indonesia Institute $21013

  • C Star, P Tangney, B Clarke & J Newman. 2019. Developing policy expertise and a toolkit for evidence-based coordination of national climate resilience using a co-design professional development approach. Department of Defence, Strategic Policy Grants $125877
  • C Leuprecht & C Star. 2019. Geostrategic Futures in the Southern Ocean and Antarctica. Department of Defence, Strategic Policy Grants $122409
  • C Star & H McLaren, 2018. (Australia Indonesia Institute / DFAT). Women's public sector leadership. $30000.
Key responsibilities
Teaching interests

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.

Topic coordinator
POAD9129 Environmental Policy and Governance
Supervisory interests
Australian government and politics
Australian politics
Climate change
Climate policy
Climate resilience
Comparative politics, Australia, Canada, USA
Environment movements
Environment policy
Environmental politics
Natural resource management
New social movements
Non-government organisations
Policy Formation
Politics of energy policy debate
Public policy
Public policy development
Public policy evaluation and development
Social movement activism
Higher degree by research supervision
Principal supervisor: Climate Change Policy (2), Feminist organisations and domestic violence (1)
Associate supervisor: Child health policy (1), Retirement planning (1)
Principal supervisor: Young people and violence (1), Climate change policy (3), Global justice (1)
Associate supervisor: Federalism and International Relations (1), Food policy and public health (1), Decentralization in Indonesia (1)
Higher degree by research student achievements
Ben Lohmeyer

Winner, Flinders University 3MT Competition - AUG 2014

Han Lin

Higher Degree Publication Prize - NOV 2016

Ben Lohmeyer

Deputy Vice-Chancellor’s Best Higher Degree by Research Student Publication, Flinders University ($1000 prize) - NOV 2018

Ben Lohmeyer

Student Publication Prize (x2), School of Social and Policy Studies, Flinders University ($300 prize) - NOV 2017