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 in Mainland Southeast Asia. By listening to the different development aspirations of governments, businesses, non-profit organisations and everyday communities, Kearrin offers new insights on how China’s growing social, political and economic presence in Mainland Southeast Asia is transforming the livelihoods and wellbeing of impoverished communities.

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.

3. Kearrin is exploring new ways of thinking about development studies pedagogy. At a time when the international 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 field 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.


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 


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

  • EV5911: Development Practice Project Proposal and Literature Review (Level 5; CNS)
  • EV5955: Contemporary Issues in Development Practice (Level 5; CNS)
  • EV5956: Tropical Landscapes and Livelihoods (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"
  • 2017 - Australian Council for International Development (ACFID) Affiliate Member Representative for JCU
  • 2017 - Association of Mainland Southeast Asian Studies (AMSEAS) Treasurer and founding member.
  • 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 20+ research outputs authored by Dr Kearrin Sims from 2011 onwards.


Advisory Accreditation: I can be on your Advisory Panel as a 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.

  • Evidence-to-Action to Reduce Impacts of Criminalisation in Communities with Alcohol Management Plans (AMPS): Effective Policies and Programs need Sound Evidence for Considered Decisions (PhD , Secondary Advisor)

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