JCU researcher awarded prestigious Fulbright Fellowship

A James Cook University scientist has won a prestigious fellowship that will allow her to examine how environmental management can lead to positive outcomes for people and nature.

Environmental social scientist Dr Georgina Gurney has been awarded a Fulbright Postdoctoral Fellowship that will allow her to spend five months in the United States collaborating with leading researchers and practitioners in sustainability and environmental governance.

Dr Gurney’s research focuses on understanding how communities, government agencies and non-government organisations work together or co-manage environmental resources in the Asia-Pacific region. She is based at the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University.

“Achieving global sustainability is one of the most pressing challenges of our time,” Dr Gurney said.

“We need to find ways in which environmental co-management and other forms of environmental governance can deliver outcomes across the three pillars of sustainability: society, the environment, and the economy.”

Dr Gurney’s project involves working with Professor Arun Agrawal at the University of Michigan, where they will investigate the trade-offs and benefits among the multiple social, environmental and economic outcomes of co-management.

“We will be examining the similarities and differences that lead to successful outcomes in managing coral reef fisheries and tropical forests in multiple countries,” Dr Gurney said.

She will also be spending time at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, where she will collaborate with Professor Bill Clark and the international non-profit the Wildlife Conservation Society to develop a decision-support tool to guide co-management for multiple outcomes.

“Although compromises are inevitable in co-management, this project aims to develop ways to mitigate severe trade-offs between outcomes,” Dr Gurney said.

“In a nutshell, the research seeks to understand what co-management practices work, where to contribute to sustainability and to foster the incorporation of this knowledge in real-world co-management practice.”

In 2018, Dr Gurney was recognised as a Young Tall Poppy Science award winner by the Queensland Government.

Read more about Dr Gurney’s research here.

The Fulbright Program is the flagship foreign exchange scholarship program of the United States of America, aimed at increasing bi-national collaboration, cultural understanding, and the exchange of ideas.

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