Green economy transitions in tourism in the Margaret River region (WA, Australia)

   Department of Geography and Environment

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  Dr P Niewiadomski, Dr Tod Jones  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

The green economy (GE) is defined by UNEP (2011: 1) as ‘an engine for growth’ that will improve human well-being, foster social equity, reduce environmental risks, generate new jobs and eradicate poverty. However, despite the optimism associated with this concept, little is known on how GE transitions are realised in different places, and how politics and power shape GE transitions in different industries. Although UNEP (2011) lists tourism as one of the ten key sectors in which GE transitions should be pursued, the potential of tourism to contribute to GE transitions and address the challenges of climate change remains largely under-researched. The aim of this project will be to address this gap and explore how GE transitions are realised in tourist destinations.

The focus will be on the Margaret River region (WA, Australia) – a famous tourist destination known for its warm summers and a variety of attractions, including wineries, restaurants, beaches, Aboriginal heritage, locally-grown produce, national parks, and various other natural attractions. Given that the region is pursuing cleaner and greener tourism, and that it simultaneously faces various risks caused by a warming climate (e.g. agriculture is threatened by bushfires whereas coastlines are endangered by sea level rise), Margaret River is an important example of GE transitions in tourism at the regional level.

The research will be grounded in economic and tourism geographies. Key concepts will be drawn from Evolutionary Economic Geography (EEG), a paradigm that is concerned with how the economic landscape is transformed over time and how novelty and technological innovations can foster regional transitions and economic growth (Boschma and Martin, 2007, 2010; Martin and Sunley, 2006), and the multi-level perspective (MLP), a framework for analysing the role of multi-scalar institutional and socio-technical systems in fostering GE transitions (Essletzbichler, 2012).

The project will rely on qualitative research methods. It will begin with three research questions:
1. How sustainable is the tourism industry in the Margaret River region, and how advanced is the region’s transition to greener forms of tourism in the context of the state and regional environmental policies?
2. How path-dependent is the green economy transition in tourism in the Margaret River region, and how is it linked to different historical, political, economic, social, and institutional factors?
3. What developmental (path-shaping) potential, in economic and social terms, is the transition to greener forms of tourism in the region generating?

Applicants should have (or expect to obtain) a UK honours degree (or equivalent) at 2.1 or above (and preferably a Master degree) in Human Geography or any cognate discipline with a strong social scientific orientation (e.g. Business Studies, Strategic Management, Sociology, Political Sciences, Environmental Studies, Tourism & Hospitality).

If English is not your first language please visit the link for details of the requirements

This scholarship is offered through the Aberdeen-Curtin Alliance. This is a unique opportunity to draw from the Geography departments at the University of Aberdeen and Curtin University, as well as the Tourism Research Cluster at Curtin, which has close links to tourism organisations in Margaret River. Years 1 and 3 will be based at Aberdeen University, whereas the data collection stage (year 2) will take place in Perth and the beautiful Margaret River region (Western Australia). Piotr Niewiadomski and Tod Jones are experienced supervisors who are already supervising a PhD student on a similar topic. Please get in touch with Piotr or Tod if you have any questions.

The start date of the project is April 2019.


Formal applications can be completed online: You should apply for Degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Geography and mention Curtin University in your application, to ensure that your application is passed to the correct person for processing. NOTE CLEARLY THE NAME OF THE SUPERVISOR and EXACT PROJECT TITLE ON THE APPLICATION FORM.

Informal inquiries can be made to Dr P Niewiadomski ([Email Address Removed]) or Dr T Jones ([Email Address Removed]) with a copy of your curriculum vitae and cover letter. All general enquiries should be directed to the Postgraduate Research School ([Email Address Removed])

Funding Notes

Fully funded studentship that includes an (international) tuition fee scholarship and stipend of £14,777 per annum in the UK (the first and third years) and AU$27,082 per annum in Australia (the second year). £1,500 will also be provided for travel between the UK and Australia, students will be responsible for their own visa costs.


Boschma, R., Martin, R. (2007). Editorial: Constructing an evolutionary economic geography, Journal of Economic Geography, 7, 537-548
Boschma, R., Martin, M. (2010) The aims and scope of evolutionary economic geography, in: R. Boschma, R. Martin (eds.) The Handbook of Evolutionary Economic Geography, Cheltenham: Edward Elgar, 3-39
Essletzbichler, J. (2012) Renewable energy technology and path creation: a multi-scalar approach to energy transition in the UK, European Planning, 20, 5, 791-816
Martin, R., Sunley, P. (2006) Path dependence and regional economic evolution, Journal of Economic Geography, 6, 395-437
UNEP (2011) Towards a Green Economy: Pathways to Sustainable Development and Poverty Eradication. A Synthesis for Policy Makers, United Nations Environment Programme, Nairobi
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