Profile image for Karen Malone

Professor Karen Malone

Professor of Environmental 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 Sustainability and Childhood Studies in the  School of Social Sciences, Media, Film and Education, Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne.  Professor Malone researches in urban ecologies, environmental sustainability education, environmental humanities,  and childhood studies with a specific focus on damaged urban landscapes. 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.

Her most recent funded grant was in 2021 ARC Linkage Curating Museum Collections for Climate Change Mitigation CI Malone, CI Cameron & CI Ellsworth (WSU); Partner Investigator Professor Rosi Braidotti Utrecht University, Industry Partner: Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences (MAAS), Sydney Australia. 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. Her most recent ARC application was a 2022 ARC Discovery Building climate ambition: Museums, non-modern knowledges, forests, and climate change mitigation. CI Fiona Cameron (WSU), CI Karen Malone (Swinburne) Currently Under Final Review.

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. 

During her career Professor Malone has authored 12 books, and over 100 peer reviewed articles (Q1-10; Q2-5; Q3-1; Q4-2) and 37 NTROs. . She is co-author of the International Research Handbook on Childhoodnature, first named editor of the book series Children: Global Posthumanist Perspectives and Materialist Theories and on the editorial board for the Routledge series Postqualitative, New Materialists and Posthumanist Research.  Her most recent sole-authored book Children in the Anthropocene explores her research interest in child/hoods entangled in messy urban ecologies in South America and Asia. The book was published in early 2018 and has already been downloaded over 2000 times. She is also first named author of an edited collection titled Reimaginging Sustainability in Precarious Times (2017) this book has been downloaded over 30000 times in just over 3 years. Her latest book Theorising Posthuman Childhood Studies published in November 2020 is the touchstone book to her Springer book series.Her Scopus Goggle Scholar Metrics reveals she has 7330 citations, h-index 41, and i10-index 75.

As a philosopher, pedagogue, geographer, environmental sustainability 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 and the social sciences.

 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 6 HDR students, 16 HDR completions and examined 18 doctoral theses. In the three years Professor Malone has been at Swinburne she has attracted 6 new doctoral students and kept them all to their milestones and completion dates. 

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


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
  • History And Philosophy Of Education - 390202
  • Geography Education curriculum and pedagogy - 390106

Teaching areas

Philosophy;environmental education;early childhood;science education;geography;research methods;sustainability


  • 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