Dr Rebecca Colvin


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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’s research interest is in how groups of people interact with each other - especially in settings of social and political conflict - with regard to climate and environmental issues. In particular, she studies the role of social-political identity in shaping these interactions. Much of this work has a focus on the dynamics and interplay of formalised processes for including citizens and stakeholders in decision-making and informal processes of interaction in the public sphere.

Bec’s recent research has included: a social identity analysis of the “Stop Adani Convoy”, and what this means for social relations in the context of climate and energy policy; experimental work on how framing land use change as social conflict affects public opinion, and implications for understanding public preferences; the drivers of social-political polarization on climate change, and how this can be avoided in emergent climate policy arenas; the role of social identity in exacerbating community conflict about wind energy development, and lessons for community engagement practice. Current research in progress, but as yet unpublished, includes: analysis of Australian voters’ attitudes toward climate change in the context of the 2019 federal election; local attitudes toward the future of coal in the Hunter Valley, and the role of identity and climate politics in shaping attitudes; processes of identity and social change among Australian farmers who have mobilized on climate change; how ‘following the script’ of our social identity groups on climate change affects social-political polarization and conflict.

At the Crawford School of Public Policy, Bec teaches courses on environmental communication, quantitative social research methods, independent research on climate change, and is Co-Convener of the Master of Climate Change. Prior to joining the Crawford School, Bec was Knowledge Exchange Specialist for the ANU Climate Change Institute and Associate Lecturer for The University of Queensland.

For an up-to-date list of publication, please see my Crawford School profile at the following URL: https://crawford.anu.edu.au/people/academic/rebecca-colvin?tb=publication

Current student projects

Primary supervision:

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

Sharni Goldman, ‘A ‘just transition’, not just a transition: coal community agency and the governance of energy transitions in Australia’, ANU Crawford School of Public Policy

Angela Merriam, 'Reconsidering justice in the energy transition', ANU Crawford School of Public Policy

Associate supervision:

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

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


BEnvMan (Hons 1, Valedictorian) 2012, PhD 2017, The University of Queensland

Expertise Areas

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


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