Ms Elizabeth Boulton

MEnviron (Climate Policy) – University of Melbourne (2007); Masters Business Management (HR/Logistics) UNSW, 2001; BaArts (Hons) UNSW, 1994
PhD Student

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.

She maintains a professional interest in leadership theory, equity and diversity, and the creation of work environments which support individual flourishing and the creation of high performing teams. 

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. (2018)  'Climate Change as a Hyperthreat', in Australian Contributions to Strategic and Military Geography, Springer, pp. 69-90.

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

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.


Boulton, E.G. (2019) 'Telling the story of climate change: threat or emergency, and does it matter?' The Power to Persuade website, Canberra, Australia, 29 October 2019 

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

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

Australian Army related - research paper; blogs, podcast etc:

8 March 2018, (Blog) The new socio-cultural world of 2020-2050: What might it mean for militaries?, The Wavell Room, UK

27 July 2017, (Blog) A Case Study: the Liberian Wars, The Cove

19 July 2017, (Interview) Gender equality in the Army: Q&A with Major Elizabeth Boulton, BroadAgendaBlog, University of Canberra

10 July 2017, (Blog) Teaming: An Orientation, The Cove

23 June 2017, (Podcast) ‘Why I Named My Daughter After Nancy Wake AC, GM’: Wyatt Frazer discusses Australia’s most famous war heroine and reflects upon fatherhood in the modern Army, The Cove

4 July 2016, (Blog) Teaming: Get Ready, Land Power Forum

4 July 2017,  (Research/Discussion Paper)Teaming: An introduction to gender studies, unshackling human talent and optimising military capability for the coming Era of Equality: 2020 to 2050.  

11 July 2016,  (Blog)The New Era of Human Performance: Bulletproofing; Brains and Bravery, Land Power Forum

2016, (Blog) More on Cognitive Edge: A Response to Warren Croaker, Land Power Forum

2015, (Blog) Obtaining the Cognitive Edge, Start with Brain Science, Land Power Forum

31 December 2012, (News Opinion Piece) In defence of true leadership, Sydney Morning Herald