Honorary Associate Professor Val Brown

BSc (Qld) DipAdultEd (UCan) MEd (Endicott, Mass) PhD (ANU)
Honorary Associate Professor

Valerie A. Brown AO, BSc MEd PhD, Professorial Fellow, Human Ecology, Fenner School of Environment and Society, Australian National University.  Director of the Local Sustainability Project, a collaborative research program working with whole-of-community change in Australia and overseas, 1995 -2017.  

Emeritus Professor of the University of Western Sydney after being its Foundation Chair of Environmental Health 1996-2002. Awarded an Officer of the Order of Australia for national and international advocacy for sustainable development.  Author of eight books and over 50 papers on socio-environmental issues and social change. 

Valerie was a member of the National Health and Medical Research Council 1984-92, and CSIRO Council 1986-2004.  In 1999 she was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia for national and international research, policy development, and advocacy for sustainable development.

She was inaugural Professor of Environmental Health at the University of Western Sydney 1995-2002.  

Valerie is currently working on collective learning as a tool for transformational change.  Over 300 collective learning workshops have been delivered across Australia and in Nepal, Europe, Malaysia, Fiji and China. Her 100 research papers and 10 books explore the human capacity for transformational change.

Professional activities

I work with collaborative action research teams on locally sustainable responses to global social and environmental pressures. Past research programs have addressed the capacity for collective decision-making in the Local Government, community development, public health, and environmental management sectors; and establishing the Indigenous communities' environmental health workforce development program. My recent projects include principles for whole-of-community engagement in the Murray-Darling Basin; an interactive collective knowledge framework; and transformational change in regional collaboration for natural resource management.

PhD supervision includes theses on collective responses to complex socio-environmental issues in public health, environmental management, indigenous and community-based natural resource management, and urban planning.

During my time as a Fenner associate I have published six books (2005), (2005), 2008), (20010) (2012), (20014) with international publishers; 15 book chapters; and 17 journal papers; with a total of over 2500 citations. I have given lectures and workshops in Human Ecology, Integrated Studies, and Human Futures, and acted as primary supervisor for eleven ANU PhD students with Robert Dyball as Chair of the panels.

In 2017 I am supervising 2 PhDs, submissions due in 2018, (one co-supervised with Lorrae Van Kirkhoff), and finalising two invited chapters for international publications on collective learning. I am currently writing two books, one on Collective Thinking with Dr. John Harris, and one on Cooperative Evolution with Emeritus Professor Chris Bryant. Estimated publication dates 2019.  

Research interests

Managing for local sustainability, collective decision-making, sustainability and health

Valerie Brown holds an undergraduate degree in Ecology from Queensland University, a Graduate Diploma in Adult Learning from the University of Canberra, a Master of Education Degree in Integrative Studies from Endicott College, USA and the inaugural PhD in the University's Human Sciences Program, thesis topic "Holism in the University Curriculum". During 1979-84 she helped established the B.App.Sc.(Health Education) now B.Ed (Community Development) at the University of Canberra. From1984-89 she established and directed the Health Advancement Services of the ACT, and has since worked in projects to link public health and environmental governance in Australia, Malaysia, Fiji, and China, including setting up the National Local Government Environmental Research Network1989-95. Foundation Professor of Environmental Health at the University of Western Sydney 1996-2002, she is now Emeritus Professor from that University and Visiting Fellow and Director, Local Sustainability Project, at the Fenner School of Environment and Society, The Australian National University. In 1999 she was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia for international and national contributions to public health and environmental health, and advocacy for and contributions to, sustainable development.

The human capacity for transformational change: harnessing the collective mind Routledge 2014

Tackling wicked problems through the transdisciplinary imagination. (Ed.)  Earthscan 2010

Leonardo's vision: A guide to collective thinking and action. SENSE 2008

Sustainability and health: supporting global integrity in public health. Allen and Unwin 2005

Social learning and environmental management: towards a sustainable future. (Ed. )Earthscan 2005