Honours in Environmental Sociology


Are you interested in exploring issues of water and sustainability in Melbourne?


Diagnosing transitions in Melbourne’s urban water system

In the context of sustainability challenges, such as climate change, resource limitations, population growth and degraded aquatic ecosystems, there is growing international acceptance that traditional approaches to planning and managing urban water systems are inadequate to deliver the services society requires. Instead, scholars and practitioners are calling for a socio-technical transition towards approaches that increase a system’s liveability, sustainability and resilience. This requires significant shifts in the way urban water systems are planned, designed and managed. However, there is limited understanding of how people and organisations in the water sector can more actively facilitate these transitions.

The aim of the project is to diagnose critical changes in Melbourne’s water system to enhance understanding of how socio-technical change can be deliberately enabled for achieving transitions towards sustainable future infrastructure. This involves two key objectives:

  1. Construct a qualitative chronological narrative of changes in Melbourne’s water system to identify socio-political drivers and socio-technical responses during key periods of transition. This will be done in two phases: (1) Analyse documentation on Melbourne’s water context over time, including historic reference books, policy documents and organisational reports; (2) Analyse primary data, collected from historic and/or archival collections and through interviews with water sector professionals.
  2. Map this narrative to reveal analytic insights about the patterns of socio-institutional change in the water system. This will be done by: (1) Distilling the empirical indicators of system constraints, societal needs, institutional structures and technological uptake from the narrative; and (2) Producing a quantitative representation of the qualitative data to enable pattern analysis from a socio-technical transitions perspective.

There is potential for flexibility in the scope of the project depending on students’ personal interests.

Student(s) involved in this project will work with an interdisciplinary team from across Monash, including environmental sociologists, transition theoreticians, civil engineers and system modellers. This team is collaborating to provide a socio-technical understanding of urban water transitions to inform real-world practice on how shifts towards liveable, sustainable and resilient outcomes can be facilitated.

For more information, please contact Briony Ferguson or Fjalar de Haan.

briony.ferguson@monash.edu                                     fjalar.dehaan@monash.edu

03 9905 2581                                                          03 9905 2616