Associate Professor Paul Brown

Associate Professor Paul Brown

Associate Professor Paul Brown

Honorary Associate Professor

Contact details

Phone: (02) 9385 5730


Room 413,  Level 4
Electrical Engineering Building (G17)
Kensington Campus, UNSW

The best way to contact me is via email.


Paul Brown is an academic and author based in Sydney and affiliated to the IES. He holds a PhD in earth sciences (UNSW), a Masters in Science and Society, and a Bachelor of Applied Science (Hons). His current research takes in social, political and cultural dimensions of environmental policy and management. He specialises in waste and water issues, nuclear controversy and the linkage between arts and environment (See His research at IES also gives focus to the methods and evolution of environmental education. Paul is also a playwright and filmmaker, and uses oral history and community development approaches (including verbatim theatre) within his research projects. Paul is a member of an international 'Waterways' study group comprising academics and community members in Thailand, Bangladesh, India and Australia. In 2013 Paul held an Asialink fellowship for cultural exchange with India. He is currently a member of the project team that is developing Learning and Teaching Academic Standards for Environment and Sustainability. (See

Environmental issues, communications and public participation have always been central to Paul's career. Originally trained as a geologist in Sydney, from 1980 he began working in community development contexts, through cultural activities, research, creative writing (theatre and film) and work on environmental controversies. With twenty years experience in academia, Paul has been a key contributor to interdisciplinary activities across the UNSW campus through the Institute of Environmental Studies. He joined UNSW staff in 1994, in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences as a specialist in Environmental Policy, and was Research Fellow at the Institute of Environmental Studies in 1996-97. He was a member of the School of Science and Technology Studies from 1998-2006. Paul devised and taught courses within the Masters of Environmental Management and played a co-ordinating role in the Environmental Studies Program for the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. In 2007 he was foundational Head of the School of History and Philosophy at UNSW, a position he held until 2012. That school, now School of Humanities, hosts the new UNSW Environmental Humanities program, and Paul remains affiliated with that program.

Other background includes: In the 1980s Paul gained four years’ management experience in government, and small business know-how in the film and theatre industries. For two years, in the early 1990s, Paul was Campaign Manager for Greenpeace Australia, responsible for co-ordinating campaigns across fields such as climate change, toxics, nuclear industry, oceans and forests. He then served for three years as a Board member of Greenpeace Australia. Paul has held Ministerial appointments to several government committees and served on a number of other environmental decision-making bodies, including the Australian government's Hazardous Waste Technical Group. He served 10 years as Chair of the Community Participation and Review Committee, which monitors toxic waste management, specifically hexachlorobenzene, in Botany Bay’s industrial areas. He has authored major reports for government on environmental education, and emergency management. As a creative writer and producer, Paul is the author of Aftershocks, verbatim theatre about the Newcastle earthquake. He co-founded Urban Theatre Projects in 1980, one of Australia's foremost community theatre companies. Paul is the author of the documentary film Sixty Thousand Barrels, and of the verbatim play Half a Life, which documents the experience of veterans who served at the British Nuclear Testing ground at Maralinga. 

  • Associate Professor Paul Brown
  • Associate Professor Paul Brown


Paul Brown teaches within courses in the Masters of Environmental Management (Institute of Environmental Studies) and Environmental Humanities (Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences). In 2014, he will contribute to the undergraduate 'Waste and Society' course taught through Scool of Humanities, and the Social Science Fundamental Kowledge course within the MEM.

Research Interests

  • Community responses to climate change in estuarine environments (see below the 'Waterways' project)
  • Environmental Education: analysis of methods and evolving models
  • Hazardous waste management; waste and society
  • Relationships between industry and community; public partiicpation in environmental controversies
  • Nuclear waste issues and atomic survivor communities; legacies of British nuclear bomb tests (see below)
  • Botany Bay: cultural context for decision making about waste and water issues
  • Creative arts and environmental issues; ecological theatre; theatre and environmental protest
  • Relationships between science, society and environment; history and philosophy of science

"Waterways":  In 2013-15, a key research project is an international collaboration and comparative study by academics, postgraduate students, NGOs and community members in Thailand, India, Bangladesh and Australia. The program explores processes of adaptation, community capacity building and environmental protection in estuarine waterways affected by climate change and other human impacts. Understanding the limits to adaptation is a key objective. Case study areas include Vembanad Lake in Kerala India, the Ganges and its tributaries in West Bengal and Bangladesh, and Songkhla Lake in southern Thailand. The Australian examples under study include Botany Bay and its catchment. Paul is co-convenor of the Waterways program.

"Nuclear Futures":Paul is the creative producer of the multi-platform Nuclear Futures Creative Communities Partnership Initiative, a three-year multi-arts and cultural program running from 2014-2016. Grounded in linked community projects, the initiative is a collaboration between atomic survivor communities and a community of researchers and arts workers who wish to address global concerns about weapons testing and nuclear industry, while asserting the resilience of survivor communities. The program is supported by partnerships between communities, arts organisations, individual creative artists, government agencies and academic institutions, and features international collaborations across Australia, Japan, UK and India.

Academic Publications and Reports


  • Merson, J., Cooney R. and Brown PF (eds) (2012) Conservation in a Crowded World: case studies from the Asia Pacific, University of New South Wales Press, Sydney.
  • Badyopadhay DN, Brown PF and Conti C (eds.) (2011) Landscape, Place and Culture: linkages between Australia and India, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, Newcastle Upon Tyne.
  • Brown PF (ed.) (2010) Verbatim: staging memory and community, Currency Press, Sydney.
  • Mills D and Brown PF (2004) Art and Wellbeing: Confirming the connections between Community Cultural Development and Health, Ecologically Sustainable development, Public Housing and Place, Rural Revitalisation, Community Strengthening, Active Citizenship, Social Inclusion and Cultural Diversity. Australia Council for the Arts, Sydney. 
  • Brown PF and Workers Cultural Action Committee, (revised edition 2001) Aftershocks. Published playscript, Currency Press, Sydney. 

Chapters in books

  • Arvanitakis, J. and Brown PF. (2013) “Scarce Water and the Australian Progress Trap: a commentary”, in Badyopadhay DN and Francis R. (eds.) Remapping the Future: History, Culture and Environment in Australia and India
Cambridge Scholars Publishing, Newcastle Upon Tyne
  • Brown PF, Cooney R., and Merson, J. (2012) Introduction and Conclusion, in Merson, J., Cooney R. and Brown PF (eds) (2012) Conservation in a Crowded World: case studies from the Asia Pacific, University of New South Wales Press, Sydney.
  • Arvanitakis, J. and Brown PF. (2012) “Scarce Water and the Australian Progress Trap: a commentary”, in Badyopadhay DN and Francis R. (eds.) TITLE Cambridge Scholars Publishing, Newcastle Upon Tyne.
  • Brown PF, Preface, in Badyopadhay DN, Brown PF and Conti C (eds.) (2011) Landscape, Place and Culture: linkages between Australia and India, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, Newcastle Upon Tyne. ppxi-xv.
  • Brown PF, Minefields and Miniskirts: Oral History, Womens Voices, and Staging the Vietnam War, in Brown PF (ed.) (2010) Verbatim Theatre: the art  of authenticity, Currency Press, Sydney.
  • Brown PF, Ethics, Ownership, Authorship, in Brown PF (ed.) (2010) Verbatim Theatre: the art  of authenticity, Currency Press, Sydney.
  • Brown PF (2008) Knowledge Power and Cultural Policy: social understanding through the Arts, in Anderson, L and Oakley K (eds), Making Meaning Making Money: Directions for the Arts and Cultural Industries in the Creative Age, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, Newcastle Upon Tyne.
  • Brown PF (2006) Maralinga: Theatre from a Place of War, in McAuley, G. (ed), Unstable Ground: The Politics of Place and Performance. Peter Lang, Berne.
  • Brown PF based on an interview with Nancy Hillier, (2002) The Ratbag of Botany, in McPhillips K, Local Heroes: Australian Crusades from the Environmental Frontline. Pluto Press, Sydney.
  • Brown PF (2001) Aftershocks: ten years in the making, Introduction to the second edition playscript, in Aftershocks, Currency Press, Sydney.

Journal articles

  • Barnes R, Ashbolt N, Roser D and Brown PF (2014) Implementing sustainable water and sanitation projects in rural, developing communities. Waterlines, 33, 1, 71-88
  • Davison A, Brown PF, Pharo E, Warr K, McGregor H, Terkes S, Boyd D, Abuodha P, (2014) "Distributed leadership: Building capacity for interdisciplinary climate change teaching at four universities", International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, Vol. 15 Iss: 1, pp.98 - 110 PDF
  • Pharo, E., Davison, A., McGregor H.V., Warr, K.and Brown, PF. (2013), “Using communities of practice to enhance interdisciplinary teaching: Lessons from four Australian institutions” Higher Education Research and Development.  DOI: 10.1080/07294360.3013.832168, 1-14
  • Brown PF (2009) Toxic Waste in our midst: towards an interdisciplinary analysis. Journal of Environmental Management 90, 1559-1566.
  • Brown PF and Benn S (2009) Toxic Risk and Governance: the case of hexachlorobenzene. Journal of Environmental Management 90, 1557-1558.
  • Benn S, Brown PF and North-Samadzic A (2009) Decision making in the risk society: challenges for organisational legitimacy. Journal of Environmental Management, 90, 1655-1662.
  • Rae I and Brown PF (2009) Managing the Intractable: communicative structures for management of HCB and other scheduled wastes. Journal of Environmental Management, 90, 1583-1592.
  • Brown PF Hillier N, Gennissen J, Pickering B and Smolenski R (2009) Our Battle with Hexachlorobenzene: Resident perspectives on toxic waste in Botany. Journal of Environmental Management, 90, 1605-1612.
  • Brown PF and Crittenden XR (2007) Nature Moves Centre Stage: Eco-centrism in Community Theatre. About Performance, 7, 99-116.
  • Brown PF (2006) British Nuclear Testing: Communicating Maralinga in Performance. Journal Royal Society of New South Wales, 139 (1/2), 39-50.
  • Brown PF (1995) Aftershocks: Local stories, national culture. Meanjin, 54 (3), 449-460.
  • Brown PF (1994) How should we approach the history of Australian science, in Morrison J, Geraghty P, and Crowl L (eds), Science of Pacific Island Peoples Volume 4 Education Language Patterns and Policy, Figi, Institute of Pacific Studies University of the South Pacific, 13-24.
  • Brown, P.F. (1991) Aftershocks:  Verbatim Theatre about the 1989 Newcastle Earthquake, Oral History Association of Australia Journal, 13, 49-55.
  • Brown, P.F. (1987) Making "Coal Town".  Meanjin, 46 (4), 477-486.
  • Brown, P.F.  (1979) A sheeted dyke complex within the Coolac Ophiolite, south eastern NSW. J.Geol Soc Aust., 26, 411-417.
  • Ashley P.M., Brown, P.F. et al. (1979) Field and geochemical characteristics of the Coolac Ophiolite Suite and its possible origin in a marginal sea. J. Geol Soc. Aust., 26, 45-60.

Conference publications

  • Brown P, Hudson A, Barkley E, Arvanitakis J (2013) 'Arts and the deep Nuclear Future: a prospectus'. Eco-Arts Conference, Wollongong 12-13 May. 
  • Brown PF (2005) Culture and Sustainability: The Role of the Arts in Social Change for Environmental Protection in Poiner, G. (ed) Proceedings of Seminar: Looking for Forests Seeing Trees: A Continent at Risk, Sydney, August, Independent Scholars Association of Australia, 27 August, 23-30.
  • Brown PF (2000) Rebellions in the Neighbourhood: Techniques for developing performance and new knowledge in the community sector, in Bolitho, A. and Hutchinson, M. (eds) Proceedings of  ‘Stories writing and publishing for Cultural Action’ Centre for Popular Education University of Technology, Sydney 1 September.
  • Brown PF (1999) Our affair with Hexachlorobenzene: a case study in Australian chemicals management, Conference paper for The Environment: Risks and Opportunities Third annual international public policy and social science conference, St Catherine’s College, Oxford, 28-30 June.
  • Brown PF Cavanaugh L Harding HR Moore S and Mostyn G (1996) Environmental education for engineers: explaining the relationship between professional, contextual and citizenship objectives, in Proceedings of the 8th AAEE Annual Convention and Conference Sydney, Australia, 15-18 December, 292-295.
  • Brown, P.F. (1992)  New precautions, in Thomas, I. (ed) Proceedings of Ecopolitics VI, Melbourne September, Melbourne, Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology.


  • Brown PF, (2012) Learning for Sustainability (LfS) Research Synthesis, a report for the New South Wales Office of Environment and Heritage: Sydney, 69 pages.
  • Brown PF, Arvanitakis, J., Chapple, R., Rammelt, C. and Merson, J. (2012) Disaster Management Community Engagement and Education: Environmental Scan and Options Analysis: Research Findings. A report for Emergency Management Queensland,Queensland Department of Community Safety: Brisbane, 85 pages.
  • Brown PF and Terkes S, (2011) 'University of New South Wales', in Davison, A., Pharo, E., Warr, K, with contributions from Abuodha, P., Boyd, D., Brown, P., Devereux, P., Egan A., Hart, G., McGregor, H., Rooney, M. and Terkes, S. (2011): Demonstrating Distributed Leadership Through Cross-Disciplinary Peer Networks: Responding to Climate Change Complexity. Final Report to the Australian Learning and Teaching Council: Sydney. pp38-47. 
  • Macleod D, Macoun T, Brown PF et al (2005) Environmental Engineering: A review by an industry advisory committee of the Environmental Engineering Program. Brown PF as a member of the Hazardous Waste Technical Group, (1998) Information Paper No 2: Distinguishing wastes from non-wastes under Australia's Hazardous Waste Act, Environment Australia, Canberra. 
  • Brown PF as a member of the Hazardous Waste Technical Group, (1998) Information Paper No 5: Setting concentration cut-off levels for metal-bearing wastes under Australia's Hazardous Waste Act. Environment Australia, Canberra.
  • Brown PF (1998) Key informants study undertaken to establish priority concerns related to chemical production, import, export and use. Appendix 4 in Environment Protection Group, National Profile of Chemicals Management in Australia, Environment Australia, Canberra, 135-155.
  • Brown PF (1995) Copyright and the Arts:  Report and public advice document, Australia Council for the Arts.
  • Brown PF (1998) Report on environmental education at UNSW, Institute of Environmental Studies, UNSW.


Creative Works


  • Brown PF and the Maralinga Research Group (2006) Half a Life: Stage Play based on testimonies of Australia’s nuclear veterans seasons, a collaboration with the Australian Nuclear Veterans Association and British Nuclear Test Veterans Association,  Performances at Leeds, Central Coast and Sydney.
  • Brown PF (2004) Room 207 Nikola Tesla, Stage Performance and Installation of electrical experiments. Producer Thor Blomfield; seasons at Newtown Theatre and Canberra Theatre, X-Ray Theatre, Sydney.
  • Brown PF Romeril J et al. (2000-2001) Landmines: an international writing and performance project involving writers from eight Southeast Asian countries, workshops, documentation and scripts, Japan Playwrights Association and Australian National Playwrights Conference. 
  • Brown PF and the Newcastle Workers Cultural Action Committee (1991) Aftershocks: documentary theatre about the Newcastle Earthquake.
  • Brown PF and people of Auburn (1991) Kahkwa Hakawati: a play about Arab Australians and the Gulf War, set in Sydney's western suburbs, Death Defying Theatre, Sydney.
  • Brown PF and residents of Killara House Drug and Alcohol Rehabilitation Centre, (1991) The Fears: a play on drugs, language and putting out fires, Murray River Performing Group, Albury.
  • Brown PF and people of Albury-Wodonga (1990) Two Cities: a musical play for performance at Albury's Memorial Bowl, about the politics of decentralisation, the Albury Wodonga Growth Centre, and competitive games, Murray River Performing Group, Albury.
  • Brown PF and people of Albury-Wodonga (1988) Murray River Story: an environmentalist play for performance in, across and beside the Murray River: about engineering and ecology, Murray River Performing Group, Albury.
  • Brown PF and people of Collinsville (1985) Coal Town: a comic trilogy with music, concerning new technology and social and political struggle in coal mining communities in Queensland, Death Defying Theatre and the Miner's Federation of Australia Collinsville Branch, Collinsville.
  • Brown PF and citizens of Camberwell, (1985) Days of Empire and Sly Grog: a musical comedy celebrating and commenting on the history of the Camberwell Municipality, Theatre Works, Melbourne.
  • Brown PF and Death Defying Theatre (1984) Riff Raffle: a comedy about gambling culture in Australia, Death Defying Theatre, Sydney, 1984.
  • Brown PF and Death Defying Theatre (1983) Living Newspaper: new technology and freedom of the press, Death Defying Theatre, Sydney.
  • Brown PF and Death Defying Theatre,(1982) Discipline and Punish: experimental theatre concerning the technologies of punishment and imprisonment, based on Michel Foucault’s Discipline and Punish, Death Defying Theatre, Sydney.
  • Brown PF and Death Defying Theatre,(1982) Dr Floyd’s Fly by Night Medicine Show: a comic critique of health care in Australia, Death Defying Theatre, Sydney.

Film, television and radio

  • Brown PF (2003) Sixty Thousand Barrels, Documentary film about toxic waste and community participation in Botany. SBS Independent, Film Finance Corporation and Alphaville Pty Ltd, Sydney.Brown PF (2000) Ten Million Wild Cats, Documentary film about feral cats in Australia. Wild Visuals, Sydney. (Script Editor)
  • Brown PF (1998) Aftershocks: feature film based on the play Aftershocks  by Paul Brown and the Workers Cultural Action Committee, Aftershocks Films, (first screened on SBS Television 29 December).
  • Brown PF (1997) Down the Slot, Episode of Big Sky, Southern Star Productions, Sydney.
  • Brown PF (1996) Blindside Breakaway, Episode 3 of Naked: Stories of Men, ABC Television and Jan Chapman Productions.
  • Brown PF (1996) Social Justice, Video segment for the Indigenous Australia Gallery, Australian Museum, Sydney.
  • Tiley D and Brown PF (1989) Murphy was an Optimist: 50 minute documentary about technology and chaos on the Melbourne Metropolitan Railways, Jolimont Productions, Melbourne. 
  • Brown PF and Sammers C, (1987) Arguing the Toss of a Cat: television drama about Melbourne dockside culture, Film Victoria, Melbourne.
  • Bull P, Spinks,K and Brown PF (1985) Coal Town: documentary film about Collinsville, a mining town in North Queensland, Death Defying Theatre, Sydney.
  • Brown PF (1985) Off Beat Investigations: 21 two minute episodes of a Detective musical comedy, ABC Educational Radio, Melbourne.
  • Brown PF and Cartwheel Theatre (1976) Our Style of Theatre: Ten 30 minute episodes on theatre practice, for Channel Seven's TV Tutorial, Sydney.