Dr Rebecca Colvin


Research activity per year

Personal profile


Bec Colvin is a social scientist and senior lecturer with the Resources, Environment & Development Group at the ANU Crawford School of Public Policy. Bec researches the social and political dimensions of contentious issues associated with climate policy and energy transition. Her research is focused on understanding the complexity of how different people and groups engage with social, policy, and political conflict about climate and energy issues, particularly through the theoretical lens of the social identity approach. She has explored conflict about wind energy, coal seam gas, coal, and climate policy and energy transition more broadly, in settings ranging from the public sphere through to local communities.

Bec is lead investigator on a 2022-2025 Australian Research Council funded Discovery Project that that seeks to understand the influence of ‘unconventional advocates’ – like farmers, business people, and political conservatives – on public opinion about climate policy, and holds a 2023-2026 Australian Research Council Discovery Early Career Researcher Award that aims to identify ways to establish constructive and community-led dialogue on regional futures in coal-producing areas.

At the Crawford School of Public Policy, Bec teaches courses on the role and practice of communication in climate and environmental policy, quantitative social research methods, independent research on climate policy, and is Co-Convener of the Master of Climate Change and Convenor of the Graduate Certificate of Climate Policy. Bec is on the editorial board of leading journal Environmental Research Letters, and is a regular contributor to the media on issues to do with climate and energy.  

Current student projects

Primary supervision:

Dr Nic Badullovich, ‘Towards effective climate communication: understanding the framing of climate change in an Australian context’, ANU Crawford School of Public Policy

Sarah Boddington, 'Everyday Experiences of Australians Reducing Carbon Emissions', ANU Crawford School of Public Policy

Tanja Russell, 'The role of educational experiences in empowering young people to take meaningful climate action', ANU Crawford School of Public Policy

Sally Wilson, 'The mandatory use of prepaid electricity in remote First Nations communities in Australia in the context of energy system transition and climate change', ANU Crawford School of Public Policy 

Associate supervision:

Dr Inez Harker-Schuch, ‘Using 3D serious gaming interventions to promote climate science literacy in the 12-13-year age group’, ANU Fenner School of Environment & Society

Denis Karcher, ‘Connecting marine science with policy and practice: Lessons from science-policy ‘bright-spots’’, ANU Centre for the Public Awareness of Science

Ella McNiece, Identity, emotions and climate change. ANU Research School of Psychology

Eliza Murray, ‘Multi-level governance of carbon markets: the institutional foundations of international emissions trading’, ANU Crawford School of Public Policy

Mikayla Novak, ‘Ideas, Discourses, Actions: Social Network Perspectives on Contentious Online Engagement’, ANU School of Sociology

Phaothai Sin-Ampol, ‘Community-based Adaptation of Repeated Flooding Communities in the Yom River Basin’, ANU Fenner School of Environment & Society

Aaron Tang, ‘The Politics and Governance of Geoengineering’, ANU Fenner School of Environment & Society

Bronwyn Wilkes, ‘Cultivating support for a biosensitive food system’, ANU Fenner School of Environment & Society

Research interests

  • Social & political conflict about climate and environmental issues.
  • Interactions between identity, values, and ideology, in shaping attitudes toward climate and environmental issues.
  • Social experiences of energy transition & development, with a focus on wind, coal, and unconventional gas.
  • Effective communication on climate change and environmental issues.
  • Community and stakeholder engagement process dynamics.

Available student projects

Please get in touch if you are interested in undertaking a PhD exploring the intersection of some or all of:

  • Environment & climate change 
  • Identity, values & ideology
  • Social & political conflict 
  • Communication & participation 

Researcher's projects

The effect of unconventional advocates on public support for climate policy, ARC Discovery Project (2022-2024)

Harnessing social norms to find a socially acceptable energy transition, ARC Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (2023-2025)


Bachelor of Environmental Management (Hons 1, Valedictorian) 2012, The University of Queensland

PhD 2017, The University of Queensland

Expertise Areas

  • Environmental Management
  • Environment Policy
  • Environmental Politics
  • Environmental Sociology
  • Social and Community Psychology


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