My undergraduate training was in zoology and marine science, but my PhD work, conducted in the Solomon Islands, explored the relationship between local environmental knowledge, customary marine tenure, and coastal fishery management. My interest in the relationship between Western science and environmental knowledge in other cultures has led me steadily towards what I do now, which is continuing to research the interface between different knowledges and resource management, while teaching anthropology.

Having worked for several large conservation NGOs, I have also developed an interest in the relationship between power, science and transnational conservation projects, and have written a number of papers on this topic. I have also become increasingly interested in the use of secrecy jurisdictions by transnational resource extracting corporations, and the extent to which this faclitates enormous flows of wealth out of resource rich but economically poor countries in the tropics, stymying both economic and human development.

I have been engaged in a large number, and wide variety of consultancies over the past twenty years, from measuring the social and economic impact of mining in PNG, to monitoring the impact of governance interventions such as the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI), to assessing the effectiveness of conservation programs all over the Pacific.

  • AN1001: Anthropology: Cultural Diversity in Global Perspective (Level 1; TSV)
  • AN2004: Medical Anthropology: Health, Science and Biopolitics (Level 2; TSV)
  • AN2106: Anthropology of Violence: The State, Politics and Citizens (Level 2; TSV)
  • AN3006: Anthropology and Development: Critical Perspectives on Globalisation and Inequality (Level 3; CNS & TSV)
  • AN5006: Asia Pacific Development: Culture and Globalisation (Level 5; CNS & TSV)
  • EV3020: Human Dimensions of Nature, Environment and Conservation (Level 3; TSV)
  • EV5020: Human Dimensions of Nature, Environment and Conservation (Level 5; TSV)
  • SC1101: Science, Technology and Truth (Level 1; TSV)
  • The relationship between Western environmentalism and marine science.
  • Local environmental knowledge and Western conservation projects in the Pacific.
  • Small pelagic fisheries in the tropics.
  • The political ecology of catchment dynamics and coastal fishery production in the tropics.
  • The political ecology of coral reefs and fishery-based protein security.
  • Transnational corporations, capital flight and poverty in the global South.
  • Markets, economic development and food security in Lao PDR.
  • 'Culture, Knowledge and Environment', 'Asia Pacific Development' and Introductory Anthropology.
  • 2006 to 2011 - Principal Research Fellow and Program 7 Leader, James Cook University (ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies)
  • 2002 to 2006 - Research Fellow, Australian National University (Resource Management In Asia Pacific Program)
  • 1999 to 2001 - Senior Technical Advisor, World Wide Fund for Nature (Gizo, Solomon Islands)
  • 1991 to 1993 - Marine Scientist, Marine Studies Group (Environment Protection Authority, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia)
Research Disciplines
  • 2015 - Community Engaged Research Award, Southern Cross University "For engaging rural Pacific Island artisanal fishers in capacity building through postharvest processing and testing livelihood impacts". Southern Cross University.
  • 2015 - Fellow of the Society for Applied Anthropology
  • 2004 - Australian Anthropological Society
  • 1999 - Association for Social Anthropology in Oceania

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

ResearchOnline@JCU stores 58+ research outputs authored by A/Prof Simon Foale from 2004 onwards.

Current Funding

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

United Nation Development Programme - Micro-Capital Grant

Sustainable Livelihoods and Protected Area Planning in PNG

Indicative Funding
$204,000 over 1 year
The Nakanai Ranges have been identified as a Key "Biodiversity Area due to their high density of endemic and range-restricted species of high conservation concern due to pressures of industrial logging and oil palm development. We aim to engage local communities in stewardship of world heritage through tangible conservation and livelihood benefits, acknowledging the causal relationship between heritage, local people and their well-being. Protection of primary rainforest in Nakanai will enable the continued flow of ecosystem services, such as the provision of clean water and the protection of soil resources.
Jennifer Gabriel, Simon Foale and Michael Wood (College of Arts, Society & Education and College of Healthcare Sciences)
sustainable livelihoods; Papua New Guinea; protected area planning; Biodiversity Conservation; World Heritage; Poverty Alleviation

Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research - Research Grant

Improving technical and institutional capacity to support development of mariculture based livelihoods and industry in New Ireland, Papua New Guinea

Indicative Funding
$33,600 over 4 years (administered by University of the Sunshine Coast)
The overall aim of this project is to provide a sustainable basis for the further development of a mariculture sector in PNG and to further build capacity within country partner organisations and coastal communities to support this development. Specific research objectives are: * to further develop culture and husbandry protocols for target species; * to develop community-based sea cucumber culture methodology to a level potentially supporting income generation; and * to continue building long term institutional mariculture capacity in PNG. Given the significant community benefits expected from this project, detailed economic and socio-economic assessments will be undertaken to describe project impacts.
Paul Southgate, Simon Foale and Catherine Hair (University of the Sunshine Coast, College of Arts, Society & Education and College of Science & Engineering)
Mariculture; Sea Cucumber; Fishery management; marine tenure; Economic Development; benefit distribution

Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research - Research Grant

Improving food security in the northern uplands of Lao PDR: Identifying drivers and overcoming barriers

Indicative Funding
$140,021 over 5 years (administered by Monash University)
Despite strong economic growth in the last decade, food insecurity in Lao PDR remains high (around 22%) and more or less unchanged. The drivers of food insecurity are largely unknown. This project asks: 1) What are the past drivers, and current constraints and enhancers, of food security status, and 2) What are the impacts of interventions to address food insecurity, in the Northern Uplands of Lao PDR? The project will use a variety of mixed methods to produce an analysis of household strategies towards income generation and stabilisation under a range of market conditions.
Paulo Santos, Damien Field, Budiman Minasny, Simon Foale, Roy Murray-Prior and Sillinthone Sacklokham (Monash University, The University of Sydney, College of Arts, Society & Education and National University of Laos)
Development anthropology; household economy; Food Security; Agriculture; Markets; proverty alleviation

Australian Research Council - Linkage - Projects

The Nakanai Caves Cultural Heritage Project

Indicative Funding
$228,000 over 5 years, in partnership with Archaeloogical & Heritage Management Solutions ($68,100)
This project will document and integrate the natural and cultural values of the Nakanai Caves in East New Britain, Papua New Guinea, in preparation for a cultural landscape World Heritage nomination. Our novel methodology incorporates community knowledge with archaeological and anthropological evidence to link natural and cultural values and define the landscape from local perspectives. Local input into the research will be prioritised. By emphasizing local participation and management of World Heritage listing processes we address an identified gap in World Heritage methodologies. Our approach allows for a subtle, nuanced definition of cultural landscapes under the World Heritage Convention.
Simon Foale, Michael Wood, Susan McIntyre-Tamwoy, Colin Filer, Matthew Leavesley, Matthew Kelly and Jim Specht in collaboration with Kenn Mondiai (College of Arts, Society & Education, Archaeological & Heritage Management Solutions, Australian National University, The University of Sydney and Partners with Melanesians Inc)
Papua New Guinea; World Heritage; Cultural Heritage

International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, IUCN - Contract Research

IUCN MACBIO Project 00801: Arnavon Islands Marine Reserve Review

Indicative Funding
The consultant will conduct a review of lessons learned from the establishment of the Arnavon Islands Community Marine Reserve Solomon Islands. The review will entail al literature review as well as interviews with key stakeholders and participants in the establishment and management of the reserve. The outputs from the review will include a technical report, one or more video products and one or more information posters. The project will involve travel to the Solomon Islands, including to the reserve and the adjacent communities.
Simon Foale in collaboration with Leanne Fernandes (College of Arts, Society & Education and International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources)
Environmental Values; Marine Protected Areas; Fishery management; Turtles; Natural Heritage; Solomon Islands

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.

  • Living Nature: Western Thinking and the Experience of Nature in the United States and in Australia in the 21st Century (PhD , Secondary Advisor/AM)
  • Investigating corruption in Papua New Guinea through the patron-client structure: The citizens' perception (PhD , Secondary Advisor/AM)
  • Contemplating Camel: Exploring Ecological sustainability in Inland Australia (PhD , Secondary Advisor)
  • Community development in villages of PNG: Evaluating empowerment of young, educated women for community development and social change. (PhD , Primary Advisor/AM/Adv)
  • Impacts of Chinese Tourism on the Infrastructure of Fiji (PhD , Primary Advisor/AM/Adv)
  • Political imaginaries of resistance and the possibilities for nonviolent re-existence:;;Australian decolonial practices in a global context – an ethnographic approach (PhD , Advisor Mentor)
  • Structuring Access and Empowerment: Exploring the Curriculum Ideologies of an Award Winning Alternative Pathway Program in an Australian Regional University (Masters , Primary Advisor)
  • The Dwelling in Contemporary New Caledonia: Implications of Low Cost Housing Architecture (Masters , Primary Advisor/AM/Adv)

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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