Charles Sturt University
Charles Sturt University


Research Overview

The School of Humanities and Social Sciences is where scholarly, rigorous research intersects with creativity, social justice and human rights. The research culture that we embrace is unique, vibrant and progressive. The cross-disciplinary nature of our research environment provides us with opportunities to grapple with societies enduring questions while responding to new and emerging challenges.

Our focus is sociocultural, humanistic and praxis – we study humanity at the level of the individual, local and global communities, major institutions and how society interacts with the natural world. We explore the vibrancy of art, literature, recreation and sport in the social world as well as social development and the wellbeing of the whole population. And because we are a school that engages with big ideas with practical outcomes, we study the intersections between human needs and social well-being, the arts and political processes.

Researchers in our school are committed to a study of humanity that is leading edge and innovative. What this means is that we confront problems that will ultimately lead to new knowledge and make a contribution to a better world, regionally, nationally and globally. In this way the school’s research augments Charles Sturt’s ethos of yindyamarra winhanganha – the wisdom of respectfully knowing how to live well in a world worth living in. Research in the school is current, topical and impactful, and involves our researchers in social action, public debate on government policy, political participation and representation.

We demonstrate engagement with a commitment to collaborate with communities and industry, and through significant participation in local and national media, high quality publications in peer reviewed journals and books. As we seek social transformation and change at individual and structural levels, our researchers explore these processes across time and space and a broad spectrum of research methods to discover and disseminate knowledge for the public good.

Two internationally recognised journals are part of the schools commitment to scholarly, cross-disciplinary, relevant research. ‘The International Journal of Community and Social Development’ is established and edited by Professor of Social Work Manohar Pawar and the ‘Rural Society’ Journal is edited by senior lecturer of sociology Angela Ragusa:


Research quality in the School of Humanities and Social Science excels at a world standard level as measured by the Australian Research Council's (ARC) Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA) 2018 results. The 2018 results showed excellence in our fields of research. We achieved strong rankings (above world standard) for Applied Ethics. And were evaluated at world standard or above for:

  • Studies in Human Society (ERA 3)
  • Applied Ethics (ERA 4)
  • Philosophy and Religious Studies (ERA 3)
  • Sociology (ERA 3).
  • English
  • History and Politics
  • Philosophy & Applied Ethics
  • Social Work and Human Services
  • Sociology


Our strengths are diverse and interdisciplinary. Both individually and as a group, our interests and areas of expertise range from what might be thought of as more traditional literary studies through various forms of textual and cultural analysis to creative writing.  These include children's and young adult literature, semiotics, continental philosophy, Australian, American and English Literature, Film and Television Studies, Critical Theory, Popular Culture, Children's Literature, Young Adult Literature, colonial and post-colonial studies, Pedagogies, Creative Writing, Poetry and Poetic, Literature and Theology, Asian-Australian Writing, Literature and the Suburbs, and Literature and Computer Games.

Staff Members:

Dr Ruth Bacchus

Dr Lachlan Brown

Dr Russell Daylight

Dr Suzie Gibson

Dr Joy Wallace

History and Politics

The history/politics academics at Charles Sturt University have a diverse range of research and postgraduate supervision interests and expertise; more details of which can be found in the individual academic profiles. Our research specialisations include:

  • Social History
  • Imperial and Colonial History
  • Political and Public Policy History
  • International Relations
  • Indigenous Politics
  • Cultural History
  • Biographical History

The history/politics academics publish in a wide variety of media and academic journals. They also serve on many professional committees, journals and editorial boards, actively contribute to local, national and international organisations and make valuable contributions to the rural and regional communities and professions Charles Sturt University serves. Our research continues to attract a wide range of research partnerships and Higher Degree Research students and we welcome opportunities to discuss future research collaborations and postgraduate supervision in any of the above fields.

For more information about pursuing postgraduate studies by research in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, see the Faculty of Arts and Education's Research web pages.

Staff Members:

Associate Professor Dominic O'Sullivan

Dr Jared Van Duinen

Dr Oliver Villar

Philosophy & Applied Ethics

Philosophers at CSU conduct research in a broad range of fields. Please see our individual webpages for details concerning current projects.  We have specific expertise in the following areas:

Philosophy of religion
Philosophy of Science
Professional and applied ethics, including environmental ethics
Moral Psychology
Ethical Theory
Applied philosophy

Applied Ethics and Philosophy are well-established areas of research excellence at CSU.  Research in these areas is mainly conducted by philosophers within the School of Humanities and Social Sciences.  However, researchers with expertise in these areas are located in more than one School and Faculty.

Ethics is a branch of philosophy concerned with moral concepts and principles of conduct, and with critical evaluations of moral right and wrong.  Applied ethics brings the methods of philosophical inquiry to bear on issues of practical concern with the aim of providing insight into these issues and to how they might best be resolved. Every area of philosophy can be concerned with practical issues and with questions that are relevant to global and national affairs, to law, to the professions, to education, to literature and art, and to everyday life.

Research at CSU in applied ethics is grounded in the methodology and intellectual standards of academic philosophy and interacts with philosophical research.  It is appropriately informed by relevant research in science, social science, and the humanities and includes external collaborations, and engagement with the professions and the community.

Research in applied ethics and philosophy make a distinctive and important contribution to each of the three overlapping interdisciplinary research spheres of CSU's research narrative:

Resilient People:  Areas of research include the ethics of procreation; procrastination and practical irrationality; the ethics of medical treatment of vulnerable groups such as children; ethics and human enhancement; and ethical issues in research and in health care, including moral and regulatory challenges of experimental therapies, difficulties facing medical research ethics committees, and conscientious objection in the delivery of health care.

Sustainable Environments: Research examines a range of issues arising from the nature and value of the natural and the artificial environment and our relationship with them.  These include issues of justice and responsibility in relation to possession of, access to, and exploitation of land, water, and other (renewable and non-renewable) natural resources; examination of the virtues relevant to our interaction with the natural environment; and ethical issues in climate change mitigation and adaptation.

Flourishing Communities:  Research includes conceptual and ethical issues generated by the phenomena of war, terrorism, crime, civil disobedience, corruption, and technology.  These include the nature and application of Just War Theory; morality and self-defence; the principles of criminal liability; the ethics of punishment and civil disobedience; the justification of the use of force; the ethics of terrorism and counter-terrorism; and ethical issues of anti-corruption systems and cyber-security and IT use.  Research also includes philosophical issues of belief, intention, language and individual and collective action and responsibility, and their relevance and application in a range of practical contexts.

Staff Members:

Associate Professor Steven Clarke

Dr Daniel Cohen

Dr Morgan Luck

Dr Emma Rush

Social Work and Human Services

Guided by the Charles Sturt research strategy 2020- 2026, and research narrative, the Social Work and Human Services discipline aims to undertake a broad range of interdisciplinary and collaborative research activities that contribute to social justice, human rights and wellbeing; and be a leading and impactful researcher in the social work and human services sector, as reflected in our vision statement: Informed action for social justice and human rights.

Charles Sturt Social Work and Human Services research scholars are committed to discovery and dissemination of knowledge that:

  • Engages with communities and industry, and enhances the well-being of individuals, families, communities at local, regional, national and international levels by focusing on human dignity and worth, human relationships, social and economic equalities and community and environmental sustainability;
  • Helps to understand and address complex human needs and problems, with a human rights perspective, in dynamic contemporary contexts – local-global, societal and ecological;
  • Influences the formulation and implementation of effective and efficient policies, plans and programs that address social, economic and environmental inequalities at local and global levels;
  • Informs and improves their educational approaches/models, learning and teaching and professional practice and development.

Staff Members:

Associate Professor Karen Bell

Dr Heather Boetto

Professor Wendy Bowles

Suzanne Callander

Dr Belinda Cash

Ignatius Chida

Jozette Dellemain

Rohena Duncombe

Katrina Gersbach

Robin Harvey

Dr John Healy

Associate Professor Susan Mlcek

Dr Bernadette Moorhead

Dr Ndungi Wa Mungai

Professor Manohar Pawar

Rachel Sandford

Monica Short

Dr Fredrik Velander

Sabine Wardle


Sociologists at Charles Sturt University work on a diverse range of research projects, consultancies, postgraduate supervision and publications. Collectively, we specialise in qualitative social research that is theoretically informed by a range of theoretical approaches - including critical theory, gender studies, feminism, Marxism and post-structuralism – and quantitative methods, such as content analysis and social survey research. Sociology in the School of Humanities and Social Science aligns with the CSU research narrative of ‘Resilient People’, ‘Flourishing Communities’ and ‘Sustainable Environments’ – our research strengths are grouped into the following thematic specialisations:

Environmental sociology – critical animal studies; environmental justice; sustainability; governance; water sustainability.

Gender and sexuality studies – utilising gender theories, masculinity and feminist theories; GLBTQ & alternative lifestyles; gendered institutions; women and men in non-traditional work; gender inequality; military sociology and gender; women, peace and security.

Health and rural sociology community well-being; mental health and human rights; mental health and service provision; rural and regional eMental Health; rural and regional disability mobility; marginality and social exclusion/inclusion; health literacy; health professions; amenity migration; social inclusion; drought and endurance.

Social justice, social action, social change – social class and other inequalities – utilising Marxist, Weberian, feminist and other critical theoretical frameworks; political economy and democracy; cultural studies and social movements; communities; revolutions; globalisation and media; labour struggles and working poverty; political organisations; service provision for traditionally excluded/isolated/vulnerable people.

CSU sociologists serve on many professional committees, journals and editorial boards, actively contribute to local, national and international organisations and make valuable contributions to the rural and regional communities and professions CSU serves. Our research continues to attract a wide range of research partnerships, grants, fellowships, and awards and we welcome opportunities to discuss future research collaborations.  You may contact us individually using the email addresses listed in our staff profiles. For more information about pursuing postgraduate studies by research in the School of Humanities & Social Sciences, see the Faculty of Arts and Education Research webpage.

Staff Members:

Dr Donna Bridges

Dr Merrilyn Crichton

Dr Helen Masterman-Smith

Associate Professor Dominic O'Sullivan

Dr Angela Ragusa

Dr Oliver Villar