Dr Kearrin Sims is a critical development scholar trained in sociology and international relations.

Kearrin’s diverse research interests are built around three central themes.

1. Kearrin is advancing our understanding of how Chinese development cooperation is changing lives and reshaping geopolitics in Mainland Southeast Asia. By listening to the different development aspirations of governments, businesses, non-profit organisations and localised residents, Kearrin offers new insights on how China’s growing global social, political and economic significance is reworking the livelihoods and wellbeing of impoverished communities. He is particularly interested in the geopolitics of transnational infrastructure connectivity and expanding forms of South-South development cooperation. 

2. Kearrin is expanding knowledge on urban inclusion and sustainability. By studying the politics of urban development and design within the global South, Kearrin seeks to advance the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goal 11 ‘Sustainable Cities and Communities’, and UN-Habitat’s New Urban Agenda to foster ‘Cities for All’. Kearrin is Chair of JCU's Sustainable Development Working Group and a member of JCU's Tropical Urban Design Lab.

3. Kearrin is exploring new ways of thinking about development studies pedagogy and global citizenship education. At a time when the global development sector is undergoing profound change, Kearrin’s research looks for improved methods of teaching and learning in the field of development. His work in this domain includes a focus on both tertiary and secondary education, as well as industry partnerships with service-based learning organisations.

Kearrin’s approach to academia is centered on finding creative and collaborative mechanisms for bringing together teaching, research and community engagement activities. He has taught at multiple universities and has served in a number of volunteering positions for non-profit organisations both in Australia and abroad. To date, much of Kearrin’s research and community outreach has been focused within Southeast Asia. In particular, he has had a strong interest in transnational connectivity programs and the geopolitics of development in Laos.

By approaching the field of development as a highly politicised arena of resource struggles and competing value-systems that are entered from different positions of power, Kearrin has sought to uncover how processes of social and economic power redistribution might lead to greater representation and accountability for the poor.

Kearrin welcomes applications from prospective PhD candidates interested in each of the above three themes.


In 2015 Kearrin was shortlisted for best graduate student paper in the Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography.

In 2017 Kearrin was awarded the Willam L. Holland prize for best paper in Pacific Affairs. 

He has also published, on invitation, for Stanford University's Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Centre and recieved numerous funding invitations to present on his work, including visits South Korea, Sweden, Germany, Thailand and Hong Kong.

Kearrin was a founding Executive Committee member of the Association of Mainland Southeast Asia Scholars. He is a standing Executive Committee member of the Development Studies Assocation of Australia and the Research for Development Network.

Kearrin is also a Review Editor for Asian Studies Review and is currently editing a Routledge Handbook of Global Development.



  • EV5911: Development Practice Project Proposal and Literature Review (Level 5; CNS)
  • EV5951: Development in Practice (Level 5; CNS)
  • EV5952: Critical Issues in Global Development (Level 5; CNS)
  • EV5953: Research Methods for Global Development (Level 5; CNS)
  • SC5900: Special Topic (Level 5; CNS)
  • SC5901: Special Topic 1 (Level 5; CNS)
  • SC5902: Special Topic 2 (Level 5; CNS)
  • SC5903: Literature Review (Level 5; CNS)
  • SC5909: Minor Project and Seminar (Level 5; CNS)
  • SC5912: Minor Project, Seminar and Literature Review (1 of 2) (Level 5; CNS)
  • SC5913: Minor Project, Seminar and Literature Review (2 of 2) (Level 5; CNS)
  • 2017 to 2019 - Research Fellow, Cairns Institute (James Cook University)
  • 2016 to 2017 - Adjunct Fellow, Humanitarian and Development Relief Initiative (HADRI), School of Social Sciences and Psychology (Western Sydney University)
  • 2015 to 2017 - Research Associate, Institute for Culture and Society (Western Sydney University)
Research Disciplines
Socio-Economic Objectives
  • 2017 - Pacific Affairs 2017 William L. Holland Prize. Article: "Gambling on the Future: Casino Enclaves, Development, and Poverty Alleviation in Laos"
  • 2015 - Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography Shortlist - Best Graduate Student Paper - "The Asian Development Bank and the production of poverty: Neoliberalism, technocratic modernization and land dispossession in the Greater Mekong Subregion"
  • 2019 - Development Studies Association of Australia Executive Committee Member
  • 2017 - Association of Mainland Southeast Asian Studies (AMSEAS) Treasurer and founding member.
  • 2017 - Australian Council for International Development (ACFID) Affiliate Member Representative for JCU
  • 2015 to 2018 - Asian Studies Association of Australia (ASAA)

These are the most recent publications associated with this author. To see a detailed profile of all publications stored at JCU, visit ResearchOnline@JCU. Hover over Altmetrics badges to see social impact.

Journal Articles
Book Chapters
Other research outputs

ResearchOnline@JCU stores 24+ research outputs authored by Dr Kearrin Sims from 2011 onwards.


Advisory Accreditation: I can be on your Advisory Panel as a Primary or Secondary Advisor.

These Higher Degree Research projects are either current or by students who have completed their studies within the past 5 years at JCU. Linked titles show theses available within ResearchOnline@JCU.

  • Education for Sustainability in a Difficult Political Climate: A Social Learning Model (PhD , Secondary Advisor)

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