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Conducting interviews in Morrelganj, Bangladesh. Photo © Amio Ascension/World Vision

Listening — picking up the signals

“The first duty of love is to listen.”
(Paul Tillich, German-American Theologian and Philosopher, 1886-1965)

This page details my research interests, selected global fieldwork and major completed international projects. My research development engagements entail editorial board memberships, invited peer reviewer activity for academic journals, and postgraduate research supervision. Selected encounters with individual interview respondents are documented on my weblog.

Poor people are particularly exposed to many impacts of climate change. Listening to their views and experiences can be the beginning of a mutually enlightening partnership for sustainable development. Listening is the beginning of learning. It enjoys a long and enduring legacy which writers and thinkers have highlighted over centuries: “Let the wise listen and add to their learning” (King Solomon, 1011-931 BC, Holy Bible Proverbs 1:5); “To listen well is as powerful a means of communication and influence as to talk well” (John Marshall, American Statesman and Chief Justice, 1755-1835); “Most of the successful people I’ve known are the ones who do more listening than talking” (Bernard M. Baruch, American Economist and Presidential Advisor, 1870-1965); “A good listener is not only popular everywhere, but after a while he gets to know something” (Wilson Mizner, American Playwright, 1876-1933). In the simplest of terms, research is careful listening. No listening, no learning. Listening is the beginning of wisdom.


I am a social scientist with an interdisciplinary profile. My research typically aims to highlight key social issues for attention so that humans are in a better position to take appropriate action and avert or mitigate crises, prevent humanitarian-scale suffering, promote preparedness, reduce poverty, redress inequalities, foster social resilience and advance sustainable human development, environmental care and the planetary common good.

My multidisciplinary research interests include:

• Human behaviour • Holistic education • Human well-being research (“happiness”) • Social change, environmental change, climate change • Human rights, abortion, justice issues • Policy analysis and development • Global poverty reduction • Studies in human society • Theology of Earth care • Change management and social transformation • Human development, community development, sustainable development • Globalisation, intercultural competency • Leadership • Society, inequality, social class, interfaith, religion, ethics • Humanitarianism, emergency response, disaster risk reduction, disaster preparedness • Environmental sustainability • Community based climate change adaptation • Climate change induced forced human migration and disaster displacement • Climate change adaptation and mitigation • Transformation towards low-carbon global society • Interdisciplinary conceptual and empirical research • Science-faith and science-policy research • Research development initiatives •

I am open to supervise research projects for HDR and Honours students in these areas.


My interdisciplinary research interests at the science-faith and science-policy interface have given rise to international research collaborations with seasoned academics and senior professors. This is a shortlist of selected high-impact global engagements.


  • Philippines • Manila/Luzon (8–15 Jan 2012); Cagayan de Oro/Mindanao (15–20 Jan); Manila (20–22 Jan): Typhoon induced displacement and resettlement related Ph.D. field research. (Reflections on this research by Chris Pforr)
  • Singapore • (6 Jan 2012): Earth Observatory of Singapore (EOS), Nanyang Technological University (NTU): Ph.D. research visit and expert interview on GIS mapping and disaster induced displacement.
  • Maldives • Malé (19–24 Dec 2011); Hanimaadhoo (24 Dec 2011–1 Jan 2012); Malé/Hulhumalé (1–3 Jan): Ph.D. field research into climate change and non-climate change related human migration and resettlement. (The Guardian video; Springer Nature publication)
  • Sri Lanka • Colombo (19 Dec 2011): Scoping visit to explore existing Maldives-Sri Lanka migration links.
  • India • Kolkata (8–11 Dec 2011); Basanti/Sundarbans (12–13 Dec); Kolkata (14 Dec); Chennai (15–19 Dec): Ph.D. field research engaging Kolkata street dwellers; cyclone related rural-urban migration from Sundarbans areas following Cyclone Aila (2009); Chennai slum clearance and tenement housing development.
  • Bangladesh • Dhaka (27 Nov 2011); Bhola Island (28–30 Nov); Chittagong (1–3 Dec); Dhaka (4–8 Dec): Ph.D. field research into migration push / pull factors (distinguishing between environment and/or climate related issues and non-environment and/or non-climate related issues) with a view to informing relevant stakeholders of the perspectives, experiences, felt needs, aspirations and preferred solutions of forced migrant communities. (UNSW-TV video; Springer Nature publication)
  • Bolivia • Santa Cruz (24 Nov–5 Dec 2010); Camiri / Chaco communities (6–18 Dec); Santa Cruz (19 Dec 2010–6 Jan 2011); La Paz (7–12 Jan); Santa Cruz (13–20 Jan): Ph.D. field research into drought induced / enhanced forced rural-urban migration (UNSW-TV video)
  • Papua New Guinea / Bougainville • Port Moresby (20–22 Oct 2010); Buka (23–25 Oct); Carteret Atoll (26–28 Oct); Buka/Tinputz/Maran Village (28–30 Oct); Nissan Atoll (31 Oct–3 Nov); Buka (4–5 Nov); Port Moresby (6 Nov): Ph.D. research (pilot study) into climate/ environment and non-climate/ non-environment related migration push factors. (Associated arising publications: Springer Nature;; (Arabic); Podcast: MP3 Download)
  • Bolivia • Santa Cruz, La Paz (14 Dec 2009–12 Jan 2010): Ph.D. field research scoping visit into drought induced / enhanced forced rural-urban migration (UNSW-TV video)
  • Maldives • (May 2009): Self-funded Ph.D. research scoping visit conducted in conjunction with NGO Bluepeace Maldives to explore tsunami induced displacement from the Island of Kandholudhoo to Dhuvaafaru following the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami (Bluepeace Maldives guest article)
  • Cambodia • Phnom Penh (8–13 Jul 2008): Disaster report related field work into microfinance and microinsurance mechanisms for enhanced disaster preparedness.
  • Bangladesh • Dhaka (19–20 Apr 2008); Bhola Island (21–22 Apr); Khulna/Sundarbans (23 Apr); Morrelganj (24 Apr); Dhaka (25–26 Apr): Disaster preparedness related field research after Cyclone Sidr (2007). (World Vision Asia Pacific Disaster Report 2008; Disaster Monitor Bangladesh fact sheet)
  • Papua New Guinea / Bougainville • Port Moresby (12–13 Mar 2008); Buka (13–18 Mar); Lae (18–20 Mar); Port Moresby (20–21 Mar): Disaster report related field research. (World Vision Asia Pacific Disaster Report 2008; Disaster Monitor PNG fact sheet)
  • Indonesia • Jakarta (13 Jan 2008); Aceh (14–16 Jan), Jakarta (17–19 Jan): Disaster report related field research. (World Vision Asia Pacific Disaster Report 2008; Disaster Monitor Indonesia fact sheet)
  • Singapore • (28 Nov 2007–23 Sep 2008): World Vision International regional communications advisor for Asia Pacific. (World Vision Asia Pacific Disaster Report 2008; Planet Prepare report launch events in Bangkok, Singapore and Germany (18/19 Sep 2008). World Vision International Press Releases: English; German; Interview/Podcast)
  • Philippines • (Feb–Mar 2006): World Vision emergency aid distribution to survivors of Leyte landslide in St. Bernard with more than 1,000 casualties. Documentation and media coverage of relief operations. (Disaster Monitor Philippines fact sheet; Springer Nature peer reviewed publication Disaster-Resistant Schools for Disaster-Resilient Education)
  • Singapore • (23 Jan–7 Apr 2006): World Vision MBA corporate internship: Developed donor retention and acquisition strategy. Promoted donor care, child sponsorship (excerpted from my book on poverty reduction) and disaster relief communications.
  • South Africa • (Sep–Dec 1998): Completed 12-week Leadership Training School (LTS) module with focus on pioneering non-profit ventures in Africa at University of the Nations (UOFN) training base in Worcester. This field-based trilingual (English, Spanish, Portuguese) LTS focussed on equipping non-Western background leaders in areas of pioneering leadership, management, communication, organisation, and social development.
  • Estonia • (Apr–Jun 1996): Completed University of the Nations (UOFN) Youth Leaders Training School (YLTS) field placement, promoting reconciliation and development initiatives through social services in the wake of the country’s recent independence.
  • Sierra Leone, West Africa • (Oct 1994–Jan 1995): German Government Civilian Servant secondment to the European Baptist Mission (EBM). This youth leadership development programme was offered in conjunction with the Baptist Convention of Sierra Leone (BCSL) to advance youth work in the context of building civil war tensions.
  • Costa Rica • (Dec 1993–Mar 1994): Completed Youth With A Mission (YWAM) social services field assignment training in Heredia / San José, and Turrialba. Studied Spanish in Costa Rican host family.

Research Development


I am Deputy Editor at the International Journal of Climate Change Strategies and Management (IJCCSM) [Emerald OA journal] and Member of the Editorial Board at Discover Sustainability [Springer Nature OA journal].

My editorial responsibilities involve handling submissions, recruiting peer reviewers in relevant areas of expertise and processing scientific papers through the various peer review cycles through to acceptance and publication, major revision, minor revision, or rejection.


I am regularly invited by scientific journals to review research paper submissions. This is a selection of verified recent peer reviewer activity (‘community service’).


I am currently supervising postgraduate research at AQF Levels 9 (Master) and 10 (Ph.D.).

I am open to supervise research projects for HDR and Honours students that align with my research interests.

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