Profile image for Karen Malone

Professor Karen Malone

Professor of Education, Environmental and Childhood Studies
Doctor of Philosophy , Deakin UNiversity , Australia; BEd (honours) , Edith Cowan University , Australia; BEd (Primary) , Monash Unversity , Australia


Dr. Karen Malone is Professor of Environmental and Childhood Studies in the  School of Social Sciences, Media, Film and Education, Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne.  In 2022 she was recognised in Stanford University Top 2% of Most Cited Scientist in the World in subfields education, geography and social sciences. Professor Malone researches in philosophy of education, environmental education, human geography, environmental humanities, and childhood studies. As a philosopher, pedagogue, geographer, environmental educator and higher education academic leader Professor Malone has successfully developed and coordinated a number of undergraduate and postgraduate programs. She has done this by establishing cross-disciplinary units in the disciplines of  environmental studies, the creative arts, environmental humanities, Indigenous studies, science and social sciences.  She has a broad teaching profile including cross disciplinary studies in social ecology, science, sustainability, sociology, geography, and the arts. She utilizes a posthumanist, vital/new materialist theorizing in her teaching and research that seeks to break binaries and build alliances between the Sciences, Social Sciences and the Arts.

Professor Malone's most recent grant  2022 ARC Linkage Curating Museum Collections for Climate Change Mitigation CI 1 Fiona Cameron (project Manager), CI 2 David Ellsworth (WSU) and CI 3 Karen Malone; Partner Investigators:  Dr Deborah Lawler-Dormer, Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences, Sydney (Museum led) Indigenous First Nations Investigator and Indigenous Reference Group Distinguished Professor Rosi Braidotti Partner Investigator, New Institute, Netherlands
The Project aims to investigate how Australia’s high emission sectors can be curated to support climate change mitigation. Drawing together disciplines of biogeochemistry, museology, environmental humanities, geography, Indigenous knowledge and education, the Project enhances MAAS capacity for innovative climate action programs.  Other recent grants include a 2019 a HORIZON QLD govt funded project “Mapping Scientific Concepts through Nature Play in Early Childhood Education” with researchers from Southern Cross University and RMIT and in 2020 “Citizens with Rats: From citizen science toward non-anthropocentric education with young people and difficult urban companions (CitiRats©)” funded by the Academy of Finland where she is an external research fellow with staff from University of Oulu and University of Helsinki. Throughout her 25-year academic career Malone has received research funds by government and international agencies including UNESCO, UNICEF, US Peacecorps, The Smith Family. Recently, her key focus has been on conducting research for UNICEF’s Child Friendly Cities and schools program in majority world nations.  She is founder and chair, UNICEF Child-Friendly Cities Asia Pacific Network and an advisory member of UNICEF’s Research Committee.  The United Nations research was supported by participatory research workshops with thousands of young children and their families from a variety of geographically diverse locations. Children she has engaged with include HIV AIDS orphans in South Africa, children living in rural and urban villages in the Cook Islands and Papua New Guinea, children living in poverty in cities and towns in Albania, Indonesia, Japan, Kazakhstan, Tanzania and South Africa. She has also conducted geographically place based research to support sustainability initiatives with children and their communities in slum and transitional villages in Asia including India, Nepal and children from South America living in Chile and Bolivia. In 2013 she won the prestigious Australian Planning Institute of Australia Presidential award for best urban planning project of the year for Dapto Dreaming, a project where school children designed with Stockland urban developers a new greenfield community. In 2014 she was recognized for her work with children, families and schools and kindergartens in polluted post-Soviet cities by receiving a Presidential award for outstanding service to country by Kazakhstan President, Mr. Nursultan Nazarbayev. A significant amount of her research has been conducted in majority and minority world nations funded by UNICEF and UNESCO. She is Director of the current global research project Children in the Anthropocene and Co-Director with Dr Tracy of the Swinburne research and education project Young Environmental Sustainability Education in the Anthropocene.  Her research and writing focues on posthuman and new materailist theories and approaches using postqualitative research methodologies with young children and their families in a variety of geographically diverse locations. Over her 25-year academic career she has been successfully obtained funding for three ARC grants and received research funds from a range of Industry, Government, and International Agencies including NGOs. She has a track record in category 2 & 3 grants including internationally grants with: UNESCO; UNICEF; UNDP; UK Ministry of Education; Ministry of Women’s Affairs and Presidential Committee, Kazakhstan; Ministry of Women’s Empowerment, Indonesia; US Peacecorps; and Nationally: DFAT; Australian Social Sciences Association; The Smith Family; Australian Financial Markets Foundation for Children; VicHealth; Envirogrants; Centennial Park Trust; GPT Urban Developers; and Stockland Developers. 

During her career she has published 12 Books, 42 Book chapters, 59 Journal articles (Q1-12; Q2-5; Q3-1; Q4-2) with Google Scholar Metrics revealing I have 8765 citations, an h-index of 45, and an i10-index of 90. She is currently contracted by Bloomsbury to edit the world-first international Encyclopedia of Environmental Education.   She is also series editor with Mark Tesar and Sonja Arndt of a Springer published book series Children: Global Posthumanist perspectives and materialist theories (2016-2023), with 11 books published, and another 3 books commissioned in the series.  My most recent co-authored book Theorising Posthuman Childhood Studies (2020) with 13,000 downloads is the capstone reading for a series and provides a mapping of new childhood studies theoretical frame. In 2020 she became an Associate Editor Routledge Book Series (2020-2024) Postqualitative, New Materialist and Critical Posthumanist Research and was an author in the published edited book A Glossary for Doing Postqualitative, New Materialist and Critical Posthumanist Research Across DisciplinesI am co-editor of the International Research Handbook on Childhoodnature (2019). The handbook has 9 sections, 81 chapters and over 200 authors. It is the most comprehensive and significant handbook on childhood and nature ever published and has been downloaded 133,000 times. I am editor of the handbook section theoretical approaches to environmental education. My most recent edited book is Urban Nature and Childhoods with Professor Iris Duhn and Professor Marek Tesar was published in 2019.  Her most recent sole-authored book Children in the Anthropocene (2018) has been downloaded over 5000 times, this book explores my research interest in urban childhood ecologies in South America and Asia. Children in the Anthropocene informs this project application as it engages and applies posthuman and new materialist analysis methods to education and the arts and humanities.  The book explores the importance of transdisciplinary knowledge and draws across the fields of ecological and earth sciences, technology, climate change sciences, geography, and the creative arts. Based on twenty years of research developing child focused participatory research methods and arts/place-based research tools (including photography, ecological mapping, behavior observations, drawing, focus groups, walking as method, poetry), this book illustrates the importance of having an ecological approach to research and knowledge production, one which brings sciences and social sciences in conversation with each other. The research methods supported have been replicated in research studies with children and educators, by me and others in the environmental, science education and sustainability field for the past 20 years. To continue to bring this research visibility she edited a special issue of the Environmental Education Researcher (Q1) in 2017 Troubling and re-thinking the intersections of urban/childhood/nature with Professor Duhn and A/Professor Tesar, this special issue was then expanded and published as a Routledge book in 2019. She is first named author of an edited collection titled Reimagining Sustainability in Precarious Times (2017), that has been downloaded 36,000 times. Furthermore, in 2023 she will become Commissioning editor for Asia for journal Children Geographies. She is recent co-editor of Australian Journal of Environmental Education and associate editor of the Journal for Environmental Education (Q1 Impact Factor: 1.513) and recent past Editor of the journal Children and Society. I was also a member of the editorial board for Child, Youth and Environments; and reviewed for Environmental Education Researcher (Q1 Impact Factor: 1.295); Children’s Geographies; Childhood; and Australian Education Researcher.

 In 2022 she was nominated to represent Swinburne University of Technology in this year’s Australia Council of Graduate Research (ACGR) Excellence in Graduate Research Education Awards under the category of ACGR Award for Excellence in Graduate Research Supervision. This National Award Programme is a considerable achievement to acknowledge, formally recognise and reward excellence in research supervision, leadership and industry engagement. Professor Malone currently has 4 HDR students, 18 HDR completions and examined 19 doctoral theses. 

Professor Malone is an affliate researcher of the National Centre for Reconciliation Practice. She has over her career conducted over 20 research projects with First Nation and Indigenous people from around the world. 


Research interests

Environmental Education; Childhood Philosophy; science education; nature play; childhoodnature; Anthropocene; climate change; environmental sustainability

PhD candidate and honours supervision

Higher degrees by research

Accredited to supervise Masters & Doctoral students as Principal Supervisor.


Available to supervise honours students.

Fields of Research

  • Environmental Education Curriculum And Pedagogy - 390105
  • Geography Education curriculum and pedagogy - 390106
  • Human Geography - 440600

Teaching areas

Philosophy;environmental education;geography;research methods;sustainability


  • 2022, International, Top 2% Most Cited Ccientist in the world , Stanford University
  • 2021, International, Adjunct Reserach Professor , OSLOMET UnIversity
  • 2017, Other, Professorial Fellow Adjunct, Southern Cross University
  • 2015, International, Kazakh Presidential Award for Service to Country , Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev
  • 2014, International, Presidential award outstanding service to country, Kazakhstan President, Kazazkastan
  • 2013, National, Finalist Planning Project of the Year, National Planning Institute of Australia
  • 2006, Other, Vice Chancellors Teaching Award, University of Wollongong
  • 2005, Other, Vice Chancellors Teaching Award, University of Wollongong
  • 2002, Other, Vice Chancellors Teaching Award, Monash University
  • 2001, International, Winner Award Best Research Project , Environmental Design Research Association
  • 1999, National, Finalist, National Eureka Allen Strom Research in Environmental Education Award, CSIRO, Australian Government


Also published as: Malone, Karen; Malone, K.
This publication listing is provided by Swinburne Research Bank. If you are the owner of this profile, you can update your publications using our online form.

Recent research grants awarded

  • 2019: Mapping Scientific Concepts through Nature Play in Early Childhood Education: Achieving Excellence in STEM through Evidence-Based Pedagogies *; Department of Education and Training, Queensland

* Chief Investigator