Ms Elizabeth Boulton

Elizabeth Boulton
PhD Student



MEnviron (Climate Policy) – University of Melbourne (2007)


Elizabeth is completing a PhD at the Fenner School of Environment and society at the Australian National University, Canberra. Her research considers the issue of how ‘climate and environment change’ is framed. It seeks to apply humanities based approaches to the task of meaning making and conceptualisation of the problem, with a focus upon risk and security dimensions.

Her professional background is almost equally divided between work in emergency logistics (as an Australian Army Officer and with NGOs in Africa) and in the climate science and policy sector. Here she worked as a consultant on sustainable logistics; and in stakeholder engagement, liaison and project management roles with CSIRO and the Bureau of Meteorology. This was mostly in their ‘Pacific Climate Change Science Program’ and the National Climate Centre.


Research interests

Thesis title

If climate and environmental change is perceived as a threat, can military strategy inform a response? 

Thesis description

The way in which a problem is framed has conceptual and practical implications. At the conceptual level, cognitive science informs us that human’s ability to perceive problems is limited by our ‘deep frames’ - that is – our worldviews which are effectively hard-wired into our brains through neuron pathways developed over a lifetime. At a practical level, framing also influences which methods and disciplines are marshaled to solve discrete aspects of the problem.

While Climate Change is often described as a ‘Wicked Problem’, it increasingly emerges that it has not been addressed as a ‘Wicked Problem’ but rather, when it comes to research funding and institutional structures, it has been approach using scientific and economic heavy problem solving methods, inadvertently framing the problem as a type of ‘techno-management issue’. Yet is wicked problem the 'right frame'? Is 'threat' a better frame? If Climate and environmental change represents  a 'threat', can military strategy, long designed around the notion of responding to chaotic threats, offer insights into how to respond? This thesis draws upon extant methods of conducting a threat analysis, used within modern day Defence Forces, to see if this offers insights into how to craft an effective response to climate and environmental change.  



Boulton, E. G. (2017). Teaming: An introduction to gender studies, unshackling human talent and optimising military capability for the coming Era of Equality: 2020 to 2050. Canberra, Australia, Australian Army.

Boulton, E. (2016) "How Climate Scientists Cut Through a Political log-jam of Gigantic Proportions” The Interpreter Blog; Lowy Institute. (

Boulton, E. (2016). "Climate change as a ‘hyperobject’: a critical review of Timothy Morton's reframing narrative." Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change

Boulton, E. (2016) "It’s time for a new age of Enlightenment: why climate change needs 60,000 artists to tell its story." The Conversation. 8th June 2016

Boulton, E., A. Watkins and D. Perry (2012). “A user-centred design approach to the Seasonal Climate Outlook.” Climate Exchange. World Meteorological Organization, F. Lúcio and T. Avellán. U.K., Tudor Rose: 232-235.

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