People and ecosystems

Understanding of the links between coral reef ecosystems, the goods and services they provide to people, and the wellbeing of human societies.


Ecosystem dynamics: past, present and future

Examining the multi-scale dynamics of reefs, from population dynamics to macroevolution


Responding to a changing world

Advancing the fundamental understanding of the key processes underpinning reef resilience.

Coral Bleaching

Coral Bleaching

Coral Reef Studies

From 2005 to 2022, the main node of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies was headquartered at James Cook University in Townsville, Queensland (Australia)

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Meta-norm diffusion in natural resource governance


Tuesday, April 24th, 2018, 11:30 to 12:30 hrs

Building 19 (Kevin Stark Research Building) Room 106 (upstairs), JCU, Townsville
Sarah Lawless
Sarah Lawless


Increased attention to the social dimensions of environmental governance has led to the emergence of ‘social meta-norms’ that promote the best ways of governing for environmental and social outcomes. Social meta-norms in natural resource governance predominately refer to human rights, gender equality, equity, and justice. While collective efforts have been effective in establishing and promoting these meta-norms via goals, policies and agreements set at the global scale (e.g. the Sustainable Development Goals), few have led to substantial shifts in action at other scales of governance. Using small-scale fisheries governance in the Pacific Islands region as a case, I explore the diffusion of the meta-norm ‘gender-equality’ across and between multiple governance scales. I explore how gender-equality norms emerge and transfer, why they are resisted or internalized, and why they are perceived by many to have been unsuccessful in catalysing societal shifts towards greater equality. My research aims to inform scholars, policymakers and practitioners concerned with multi-scalar governance, diffusion and social-norm change within complex environmental settings.



Originally from country Victoria, Sarah completed a Bachelor of Social Science (Environment) at RMIT in 2012 and a Master of International and Community Development at Deakin University in 2016. She has spent several years working in Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea as a researcher and consultant for research and non-governmental organisations including WorldFish, Wildlife Conservation Society and the World Wide Fund for Nature. Her past research has been motivated around understanding the intersection between gender, natural resource management and livelihood development. Sarah is under the supervision of Assoc. Prof. Tiffany Morrison, Dr. Anne Stephens, Dr. Philippa Cohen and Dr. Andrew Song.


Australian Research Council Pandora

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