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)
  • AN2013: Culture, Knowledge and Environment (Level 2; CNS & 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)
  • AN3008: Myth, Ritual and Religion (Level 3; TSV)
  • AN5006: Asia Pacific Development: Culture and Globalisation (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
Socio-Economic Objectives
  • 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
Book Chapters

ResearchOnline@JCU stores 64+ 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 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

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.

  • Moana Perspectives on the Ocean and Climate Change: Using Ta Va Theory to Represent Pasifika Voices (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)
  • Investigating corruption in Papua New Guinea through the patron-client structure: The citizens' perception (PhD , Primary Advisor/AM/Adv)
  • Practice-led research in creative writing: exploring the power of nature to alleviate feelings of homesickness through life writing. (PhD , Advisor Mentor)
  • Sharks & Culture: Exploring Culture to Bridge the Gap between Conservation and Livelihoods (Masters , Primary Advisor)
  • Global Governance in the era of COVID-19: Application of regime theory in the comparative study of the global response to SARS in 2003 and COVID-19 in 2020 (PhD , Advisor Mentor)

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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