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Professor Geoff Syme

Geoff Syme is an Adjunct Professor in the School of Business and Law. Geoff is a Member of the School Board and its Research and Higher Degrees Committee.


By appointment

Current teaching

Postgraduate supervision


Geoff has a multidiscplinary background in planning related research with particular emphasis on the incpororation of social analysis with economic and biophysical research. Much of his work has been centred around the development and application of social psychological theory, psychological economics, and social justice theory as a Lecturer in Psychology at the University of Western Australia. Geoff joined ECU aftermore than 30 years in applied research and consulting (he was Chief Research Scientist at the CSIRO's Land and Water division). Geoff is the Editor in Chief for the Journal of Hydrology. He now resides in Tasmania where he continues to collaborate in research with ECU staff.

Staff qualifications

  • PhD (Cant)
  • BSc (Hons)

Professional memberships

  • Environmental Institute of Australia and New Zealand
  • Australian Water Association.
  • International Association of Social Justice research
  • Judgment and decision Making

Awards and recognition

  • 1996 - Robin Winkler Award (Australian Psychological Society) for a pioneering contribution in the development of community psychological theory in applied research.
  • 1995 - CSIRO Medal for contributions in the designing of methodologies to measure community risk/benefit trade-offs; defining perceived “fairness” in water allocation and advancing economic psychological theory.
  • 1993 - Co-winner of the Inaugural AWWA Peter Hughes Water Award for research to promote water conservation in Australia.


Research areas and interests

  • Integrated assessment of catchment management policy.
  • Evaluation of small scale groundwater supply systems.
  • Monitoring community behavioural modification in response to climate change.
  • Planning for inter-generational equity.
  • Incorporation of social justice, equity and fairness in planning processes.
  • Systems (and complex systems) approaches to planning.
  • Interdisciplinary psychological and economic approaches to policy evaluation.

Recent research grants

  • Assessment of the Brighton Dual Pipe and Water Management Scheme: PhD Scholarship, Water Corporation, 2011, $9,625.
  • Impacts of Meso-Scale Watershed Development in Adhra Pradesh (India) and Comparative Catchments in Australia, Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research,  R&D Programs grant, 2011, $1,771,141.
  • Assessment of the Brighton Dual Pipe and Water Management Scheme: PhD Scholarship, Water Corporation, 2010, $50,000.
  • Justice and Scale i Water Allocation, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, Scholarship, 2009, $11,000.
  • Evaluation of Training Techniques in Systems Thinking, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation grant, 2009, $3,000.
  • Assessment of the Brighton Dual Pipe and Water Management Scheme: PhD Scholarship, Water Corporation, 2009,  $25,000.
  • Longitudinal Study into Western Australian's Attitudes and Behaviours with Respect to Existing and Potential Climate Change Mitigation and Adaption Policies and Programs, Department of Environment & Conservation WA, grant, 2008, $140,300.

Recent publications (within the last 5 years)


  • Reddy, V.R. & Syme, G. (Eds) (2014). Integrated Assessment of Scale Impacts of Watershed Intervention: Assessing Hydrological and Biophysical Influences on Livelihoods. Elsevier, Amsterdam.

Book chapters

  • Fulton, E., Fiinigan, J., Adams, P., Bradbury, R., Pearman, G., Sewell, R., Steffen, W. & Syme, G. (2012). Exploring Futures with Quantitative Methods. Negotiating Our Future: Living Scenarios for Australia 2050, 1(6), 152-187, Canberra.
  • Syme, G.J, (2012). Justice and Environmental Decision Making. Justice and Conflicts: Theoretical and Empirical Contributions, 283-295, Heidelberg.
  • Syme, G.J, Nancarrow, B.E., (2012). Justice in the Allocation of Natural Resources: Current Concepts and Future Directions. Handbook of Environmental and Conservation Psychology, 93-112, New York.
  • Syme, G.J & Nancarrow, B.E. (2011). Overcoming water scarcity in Perth, Western Australia. Water Resources Planning and Management, 355-366, Cambridge.
  • Syme, G.J, (2008), Sustainability in Urban Water Futures. Troubled Waters: Confronting the Water Crisis in Australia's Cities, 99-113, Canberra.
  • Syme, G.J, Nancarrow, B.E. (2008). The Social and Cultural Aspects of Sustainable Water Use. Water Policy in Australia: The Impact of Change and Uncertainty, 230-247, Washington DC.
  • Syme, G.J, Nancarrow, B. (2008). Changing Attitudes to Urban Water Use and Consumption. Transitions: Pathways Towards Sustainable Urban Development in Australia, 507-517, Victoria, Australia.

Refereed journal articles

  • Syme, G. J. & Nancarrow, B.E. (2013). Incorporating community and multiple perspectives in the development of acceptable drinking water source protection in catchments facing recreation demands. Journal of Environmental Management, 129, 112-123.
  • Croke, B., Herron, N., Pavelic, P., Ahmed, S., Reddy, VR., Ranjan, R., Syme, G., Samad, M. & Rao, KV. (2012). Impacts of meso-scale Watershed Development in Andhra Pradesh (India) and their implications for designing and implementing improved WSD policies and programs. Water Practice and Technology, 7(1), n/a, DOI: 10.2166/wpt.2012.025.
  • Syme, G., Dzidic, P. & Dambacher, JM. (2012). Enhancing science in coastal management through understanding its role in the decision making network. Ocean and Coastal Management 69(1), 92-101, DOI: 10.1016/j.ocecoaman.2012.08.012.
  • Hofmeester, C., Bishop, B., Stocker, L. & Syme, G.J. (2012). Social cultural influences on current and future coastal governance. Futures, 44(8), 719-729, DOI: 10.1016/j.futures.2012.04.002.
  • Syme, G.J., Reddy, VR., Pavelic, P., Croke, B. & Ranjan, R. (2012). Confronting scale in watershed development in India. Hydrogeology Journal, 20(5), 985-993.
  • Poddar, R., Qureshi, ME. & Syme, G.J. (2011). Comparing irrigation management reforms in Australia and India - a special reference to participatory irrigation management. Irrigation and Drainage, 60(2), 139-150, DOI: 10.1002/ird.551.
  • Syme, G.J. (2010). Psychology and the rhetoric of sustainability. Psychology Aotearoa, 2(2), 112-114, Wellington.
  • Trainer, MA., Baveya, P. & Syme, G. (2010). Goals, Gaps and Governance:The holy grail in preserving Canada's hidden liquid gold. Journal of Hydrology, 380(1-2), 1-3, Netherlands, DOI: 10.1016/j.jhydrol.2009.09.031.
  • Syme, G.J., Poddar, R. & Qureshi, ME. (2009). Comparing Irrigation Management Reforms in Australia and India - A Special Reference to Participatory Irrigation Management. Irrigation and Drainage, 60(2), 14, online, DOI: 10.1002/ird.55.
  • Syme, G.J. & Nancarrow, B. (2008). Justice and the Allocation of Benefits from Water. Social Alternatives, 27(3), 21-25, Australia.
  • Syme, G.J. (2008). Urban Water: Is Efficiency Enough?. The Australian Economic Review, 41(4), 435-440, Australia.
  • Syme, G.J., Porter, NB., Goeft, U. & Kington, EA. (2008). Integrating social well being into assessments of water policy: meeting the challenge for decision makers. Water Policy, 10(4), 323-343, London.

Conference publications

Research student supervision

Principal Supervisor

  • (2013 - In progress) - Doctor of Philosophy, Household resilience to fuel price rises in Perth, Western Australia: A geographical perspective.
  • Doctor of Philosophy, Justice and Scale in Water Allocation.
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