Kearrin is a critical development scholar trained in sociology and international relations. Broadly speaking, his research interests in social justice and social change have coalesced around three primary themes. 

First, is an interest in equitable development. Through ethnographic research methods and extensive in-country fieldwork, Kearrin examines the uneven ways in which development projects and interventions are encountered and experienced by vulnerable communities. This includes a focus on knowledge-power relations between development stakeholders, and an analysis of how processes of development produce new forms of marginalization and disadvantage. In particular, his research in this domain has interrogated development-induced displacement, human rights abuses (including enforced disappearances), and the complex community level transformations that result from national and transnational development initiatives.

Second, is a focus on Asian regionalism and the intensification of south-south cooperation within the region. Here, his interests emanate around both expanding transnational infrastructure connectivity’s and the geopolitics of development – particularly within the Mekong region. Kearrin is examining the consequences of China’s growing presence in Mainland Southeast Asia, and its role in shaping global development norms, priorities and practices.

Third is his exploration of 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. To this end, Kearrin was a founding executive committee member of the Development Studies Association of Australia (DSAA) and the Association of Mainland Southeast Asia Scholars (AMSEAS). He is also an executive committee member of the Research for Development Impact (RDI) Network, a Review Editor for Asian Studies Review, and Chair of JCU’s Sustainable Development Working Group.

Kearrin welcomes applications from prospective PhD candidates interested in any of the above research themes. He is also the program convenor of JCU's Master of Global Development:  https://www.jcu.edu.au/courses/master-of-global-development, and JCU's Master of Social Science https://www.jcu.edu.au/courses/master-of-social-science 

  • 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)
  • EV5957: Equitable Development and Social Change (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)
  • SY3018: Power and Protest in a Globalising World (Level 3; TSV)
  • 2019 to 2022 - Review Editor, Asian Studies Review
  • 2017 to 2022 - 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"
  • 2020 - Research for Development Impact (RDI) Network, Executive Committee Member
  • 2019 - Development Studies Association of Australia Executive Committee Member
  • 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 - 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

ResearchOnline@JCU stores 41+ research outputs authored by Dr Kearrin Sims from 2011 onwards.

Current Funding

Current and recent Research Funding to JCU is shown by funding source and project.

JUTE Theatre Company - Contract Research

JUTE Theatre Company Build Back Better Monitoring and Evaluation

Indicative Funding
$10,000 over 2 years
The research will undertake monitoring and evaluation (M&E) of JUTE Theatre Company's Build Back Better project, deploying the Most Significant Change (MSC) Methodology, and using interviewing, surveys and focus group workshops as its primary methods. This contract research will seek to improve program delivery for the end user, demonstrate project impact, and produce scholarly outputs.
Kearrin Sims (College of Arts and Society & Education)
Theatre; Regional Economies; Impact Assessment; Creative Arts; Monitoring And Evaluation

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.

  • Children's Perceptions of Hope for our Future World (PhD , Secondary Advisor)
  • Failing Feminism: Culture, Female Empowerment and Agricultural Development (PhD , Primary Advisor)
  • Global Governance in the area of COVID-19: Challenges and Implications for International Organisations (PhD , Secondary Advisor)

The map shows research collaborations by institution from the past 7 years.
Note: Map points are indicative of the countries or states that institutions are associated with.

  • 5+ collaborations
  • 4 collaborations
  • 3 collaborations
  • 2 collaborations
  • 1 collaboration
  • Indicates the Tropics (Torrid Zone)

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  • D3.130, The Cairns Institute (Cairns campus)
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