Dr Catherine Gross



BSc (Hons) (London), MSc, PhD


As a Visiting Fellow at the Fenner School Catherine has a broad range of research interests including fairness and justice in environmental decision-making, the social and equity implications of adaptation to climate change, and the bigger picture of the human place in nature.

Catherine's most recent publication is her book ‘Fairness and Justice in Environmental Decision Making’ (published by Routledge) which connects theories of justice with peoples lived experience within social conflicts over resource sharing.

Catherine's career has spanned three continents taking her from a farming background in Yorkshire to executive management in the information technology and healthcare industry in the USA and then to environmental research in Australia. Catherine enjoys working at the interface between ideas and theories and the practical problems faced by society. She enjoys giving guest lectures and seminars and talking to people in rural Australia.


Research interests

Applying justice frameworks to environmental decision-making

Perceptions and beliefs about sharing, fairness and a just social order have been discussed for millennia. Yet still the allocation and sharing of natural resources remains a societal problem. In both theory and practice, these topics can generate intense debate, from the breakfast table to the boardroom. Conflicts and disagreements within communities and between stakeholders and decision-makers have become commonplace where decisions concerning natural resources such as wind-power or water are made. At the heart of these conflicts are complex problems involving issues of equity and justice. Although there is a substantial body of research and theory on justice much of this has been abstract or external to a social context. The lack of contextually applied justice research is recognized as a significant gap in environmental resource allocation research. The aim of my PhD was to find out how people interpret and react to perceived fairness, or the lack of fairness, in natural resource decision-making. An important objective will be to create practical tools and guidelines for use by natural resource management practitioners. The research is primarily concerned with decision-making regarding water allocation and use.


Gross, C., 2015. Perspectives on population policy in Australia, In Rural and Regional Futures (Eds Hogan, A. and Young, M.) Routledge, Abingdon, UK. pp 101-114http://www.routledge.com/books/details/9781138025073/

Gross, C., 2015. Understanding the aspirations of people living in rural and regional Australia, In Rural and Regional Futures (Eds Hogan, A. and Young, M.) Routledge, Abingdon, UK. pp 299 - 317http://www.routledge.com/books/details/9781138025073/

Gross, C. and Dumaresq, D. 2014. Taking the longer view: Timescales, fairness and a forgotten story of irrigation in Australia, Journal of Hydrology, 519 (Part C) 2483-2492.http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0022169414006660

Gross, C., 2014. Calling people NIMBYs won't stop development arguments, The Conversation, http://theconversation.com/calling-people-nimbys-wont-stop-development-a...

Gross, C., 2014. Fairness and Justice in Environmental Decision Making: Water under the bridge, Routledge, Abingdon, UK. http://www.routledge.com/books/details/9780415833899/

Fischer, J., Dyball, R., Fazey, I., Gross, C., Dovers, S., Ehrlich P., Brulle, R., Christensen, C., Borden, R., (2012), Human Behavior and Sustainability, Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, 10 (3), 153 – 160.

Gross, C., 2012. Practical realities of adaptation to climate variability in the Coorong wetland region, in Conference Proceedings, Practical Responses to Climate Change National Conference 2012, Canberra, ACT

Gross, C. 2011. Why justice is important, In Basin Futures: Water reform in the Murray-Darling Basin (Eds, Connell, D. and Grafton, Q.) ANU E Press, Canberra, pp 149-162.

Gross, C., Pittock, J., Finlayson, M., Geddes, M., 2011. Climate Change Adaptation in the Coorong, Murray Mouth and Lakes Alexandrina and Albert, NCCARF Synthesis and Integrative Research Program, The Limits to Adaptation. http://www.nccarf.edu.au/publications/limits-adaptation-coorong-murray-alexandrina-albert

Gross, C. 2010. Water under the Bridge: Fairness and Justice in Environmental Decision-Making, PhD Thesis, ANU, Canberra.

Gross, C. 2008. A Measure of Fairness: An investigative framework to explore perceptions of fairness and justice in a real-life social conflict, Human Ecology Review 15 (2), 130-140.

Gross, C. 2007. Community perspectives of wind energy in Australia: The application of a justice and community fairness framework to increase social acceptance, Energy Policy 35 (5), 2727-2736.

Updated:  26 February 2017/Responsible Officer:  Director Fenner School/Page Contact:  Webmaster Fenner School