Dr Maxine Newlands (BA (Hons), MA, PhD, FHEA) is a political scientist working to understand how and why environmental politics and networks of communication transform policymaking. Maxine combines her passion for restoration, adaptation, governance and social and communication networks to identified improvements in governance, a community of practice and social justice

Max is a multidisciplinary social science scholar who advises government ( federal and state) and various industries on world-leading projects. Max's most recent work includes


Max is currently the lead/principal investigator on several Great Barrier Reef social science projects: 

  • Queensland Department of Environment and Science - (Tender): Understanding the influence of media and community narratives on Great Barrier Reef water quality management.
  • Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority - Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority: Reef 2050 stakeholder network analysis
  • Journalism Education and Research Association of Australia - Research Grant: How has journalistic practice shaped public knowledge of the Great Barrier Reef: A discourse analysis of the media clippings 2007-2017

Additionally, Maxine holds several leadership roles:

 Maxine currently supervises six full-time postgraduate candidates. If you are interested in studying for a Master or PhD with Maxine, she specialises in the following areas: 

  • Reefs, governance, and policy with a focus on Coral Reef Restoration
  • Advocacy, global environmental governance and policy development
  • Social media analysis and policy network analysis
  • Political, Environmental and Science communication
  • Politics of gender representation in the developing world with a focus on the Pacific region.
  • EV2100: International Environmental Policy and Governance (Level 2; TSV)
  • EV5107: International Environmental Policy and Governance (Level 5; TSV)
  • PL1001: The Political World: An Introduction to Political Science (Level 1; TSV)
  • PL2006: Political Communication in the Global Environment (Level 2; TSV)
  • PL3003: Democracy and the State (Level 3; TSV)
  • PL4002: Theory and Method in Political Science (Level 4; CNS & TSV)
  • PL5006: Political Communication; Ecology and Environmentalism (Level 5; TSV)
  • Maxine was the Project Manager and lead investigator for the Townsville 150 Old and the News exhibition (Feb 2016 - Jan 2017) at the Museum of Tropical Queensland.
  • Environmental politics and the Great Barrier Reef; environmental governance, policy in ecosystem restoration.
  • Maxine's research focuses -Political Ecology -Political Communciation -Environmental journalism -environmental politics and governance - radical politics and protest movements ; and Media discourse and the Great Barrier Reef. - Gender disparity in the developing world. Maxine's methodological approaches centers on critical discourse analysis, discourse analysis, focus groups, content analysis and empirical research. Maxine's monograph 'Environmental Activism and the Media: the Politics of Protest' (Peter Lang Publishers, forthcoming)
  • 2019 to 2022 - Management committee member, Australian Citizen Science Association (NSW / national)
  • 2018 to 2022 - Research Associate, Centre for Policy Futures (University of Queensland)
  • 2015 to 2022 - Research Fellow, Cairns Institute (Cairns, Qld.)
  • 2016 to 2020 - Editor (Reviews), Journal of Environmental Education (Aus.)
  • 2015 - Visiting Academic, National University of Samoa (Apia, Samoa)
  • 2010 to 2014 - Fellow, London East Research Institue (London, UK)
Research Disciplines
  • 2014 - Overall Winner - TropECO Excellence award for Outstanding contribution to sustainability at JCU and in the wider community
  • 2019 to 2020 - Journalism Educators and Research Association of Australia (JERAA) Annual Research award
  • 2016 to 2017 - Scholarship- Australian Higher Education Sector Leadership Colloquium; Australian School of Applied Management.
  • 2014 to 2017 - 2014 Winner: Division of Tropical Environment & Societies: Three Minute Thesis Competition 2017 Runner up - ECR dtes 3 MT Competition
  • 2016 - New Colombo Plan Mobility Grant ($110,000) over two years, working with colleagues in Samoa.
  • 2010 - Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, UK.
  • 2018 to 2023 - Research Associate at the University of Queensland's Centre for Policy Futures
  • 2015 to 2018 - Visiting Fellow, Media and Journalism, National University of Samoa
  • 2010 to 2014 - London East Research Institute (LERI)
  • 2018 - International Political Science Association (IPSA)
  • 2018 to 2022 - Australian Coral Reef Society
  • 2018 - Mentor for ECR at the Australian Political Studies Association (APSA) and APSA Environmental Politics and Policy Standing Research Group.
  • 2018 to 2021 - Management Board Member for the Australian Citizen Science Association (ACSA)

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 60+ research outputs authored by Dr Maxine Newlands from 2008 onwards.

Current Funding

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

Great Barrier Reef Foundation - Reef Trust Partnership

Reef Restoration and Adaptation ?Regulatory and Policy Environment

Indicative Funding
$215,000 over 3 years
The existing regulatory and policy frameworks have originally been designed as part of the conventional approach to reef management. As such, they are not entirely fit for purpose to address unconventional technological interventions for reef restoration and adaptation. These interventions, given their innovative and emerging nature, challenge existing regulatory frameworks to address novel risks and impacts and make decisions based on information with relatively high levels of uncertainty. Critical to the feasibility and viability of RRAP R&D programs is, therefore, an enabling regulatory environment that can effectively and timely assess the range of risks and impacts associated with unconventional reef restoration and adaptation interventions. In this context, the objectives of this project are to: (i) Investigate the capacity of the existing regulatory and policy frameworks to address R&D and deployment of RRAP interventions (ii) Scope which interventions are permitted and under what conditions (e.g., scale, location and timing) with the aim to inform the R&D programs (iii) Help enhance the capacity of the regulatory system to assess the range of risks and impacts associated with R&D and deployment of interventions
Maxine Newlands in collaboration with Pedro Fidelman (College of Arts, Society & Education and The University of Queensland)
Regulation; Policy; Governance; Regulatory and policy analysis; Reef Restoration; Great Barrier Reef

Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority - Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority

Reef 2050 stakeholder network analysis.

Indicative Funding
$43,476 over 1 year
Applying a Small World Theory (Watts,1999; Crossley, 2008) this project will generate data for analysis that will identify within the marine and GBR space, the existing highly connected yet geographical distant networks. Small World Theory data can then be used to support adaptive management practices within RIMReP and wider Reef related agencies. The project will assess the current landscape and provide an initial interface network map to show the multilayered nature of existing stakeholders.
Maxine Newlands in collaboration with Pedro Fidelman (College of Arts, Society & Education and The University of Queensland)
Barrier Reef; Marine Parks; Human Dimension; Monitoring; Governance; Evaluation

Queensland Department of Environment and Science - Tender

Understanding the influence of media and community narratives on Great Barrier Reef water quality management

Indicative Funding
$249,546 over 1 year
News media play a key role in communicating knowledge about the Great Barrier Reef and the risks it faces (Foxwell-Norton and Lester 2017). While media influence on community responses in contested marine protected areas has been demonstrated (Voyer et al. 2013), the multiple pathways through which media can influence outcomes for the GBR are not well understood. This project will map the GBR media landscape - the sources of mainstream and social media, the communication networks and the narratives, values and behaviours in water quality decision-making and practice that media both shape and reflect. Ultimately, the analysis will deliver practical outputs through collaboration with GBR water quality management end users.
Maxine Newlands, Tracey Mahony, Rachel Hay and Erin Bohensky (College of Arts, Society & Education, College of Business, Law & Governance and Commonwealth Scientific & Industrial Research Organisation)
Water Quality; Media; Governance; Social Media; Networks; behavioural

Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority - Reef 2050 Integrated Monitoring and Reporting Program (RIMReP) - Contract Research

Great Barrier Reef stewardship classification review

Indicative Funding
This project aims to conduct a systematic review that will led to a classification system for understanding ?stewardship? and how to evaluate outcomes of ?stewardship activities? in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.
Maxine Newlands (College of Arts and Society & Education)
Stewardship; Management; Governance; Marine Parks; Human; Etymology

Journalism Education and Research Association of Australia - Research Grant

How has journalistic practice shaped public knowledge of the Great Barrier Reef: A discourse analysis of the media clippings 2003-2018

Indicative Funding
The Great Barrier Reef (GBR) is a national and global icon, yet only in the past five years have journalism scholars (c.f Lester and Foxwell-Norton (2018), Lankaster, Newlands, Bohenski, (2015 & 2020); Lloyd, Newlands, Petray, (2014;) begun to study the media reporting of GBR related issues. The decline of the GBR?s health in 2016/17 from back-to-back bleaching means there is a growing sense of urgency to better understand the journalistic practices of how such events and wider issues (such as mining and port expansions) frames Australia?s cultural understanding of this endangered ecosystem. This project with the digitalising of newspapers archives will benefit current and future journalism scholars and educators, add to an emerging field, and contribute towards better public understanding of what drives our understand of the GBR especially during and after catastrophic events such as bleaching.
Maxine Newlands (College of Arts and Society & Education)
Journalism; Barrier Reef; Governance; Marine Parks; Central Queensland; Discourse

Great Barrier Reef Foundation - Reef Trust Partnership

Regulatory and Permitting Planning for RRAP Program

Indicative Funding
$27,000 (administered by University of Queensland)
The Reef Restoration and Adaptation Program brings together Australia?s leading experts to help preserve and restore the Great Barrier Reef. RRAP is a long-term research project to investigate the best science and technology options to help the Great Barrier Reef resist, repair and recover. This project focuses on research with RRAP scientists and regulators; in regulator and policy research space.
Maxine Newlands (College of Arts and Society & Education)
Barrier Reef; Restoration; Governance; Regulation; Adaptation

Department of Industry - Contract Research

Reef Restoration and Adaptation Program Design Phase

Indicative Funding
$286,500 over 2 years (administered by AIMS)
The RRAP Design Phase seeks to deliver a business case for government, industry and private investment, the primary objective of which is to develop reef restoration and adaptation technologies that can be applied at scale, within affordability and practicality limits, to retain key functional attributes of the Great Barrier Reef. This project will contribute JCU expertise to evaluating coral restoration methods, undertaking regulatory and institutional environment mapping required for restoration to occur and an analysis of the viewpoints and engagement of stakeholders in reef restoration.
Ian McLeod, Maxine Newlands and Stewart Lockie (TropWATER, College of Arts, Society & Education and Cairns Institute)
Great Barrier Reef; Reef Restoration

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.

  • When do Scientists become Advocates? The Blurred line between Science and Advocacy and the Role of Social Media (PhD , Secondary Advisor)
  • Media Representation and Social Acceptance of Reef restoration and Adaptation Science (PhD , Secondary Advisor)
  • Detecting Bias, #fakenews and Infoganda in Digital Science Communication: Does Engagement with Scientific Misinformation Impact Environmental Policy? A Case Study of Great Barrier Reef Stakeholders (Masters , Primary Advisor)
  • Living Nature: Western Thinking and the Experience of Nature in the United States and in Australia in the 21st Century (PhD , Primary Advisor)
  • Investigating corruption in Papua New Guinea through the patron-client structure: The citizens' perception (PhD , Primary Advisor)
  • Researching Nannagogy: A Case Study Celebrating Women in Their Prime Crafting Eco-activism (PhD , Primary Advisor)

These are the most recent metadata records associated with this researcher. To see a detailed description of all dataset records, visit Research Data Australia.


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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  • 4.104, Social Sciences (Townsville campus)
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