STAR on World Environment Day

During a period of leave from her PhD, Associate Professor Cassandra Star spent time confronting a tricky career choice while backpacking in Central America.

Cassandra’s journey into higher education was driven by her interest and concern over the emerging issue of climate change. An undergraduate degree in science, and a lightbulb moment during a class on environmental policy, led her to a PhD on global environmental cooperation problems, including climate change.

“My motivation was always about contributing to solutions to climate change and to improving people’s lives, ensuring more sustainable communities and futures” says Cassandra.
Spending time in Mexico with a group of activists and environmental practitioners had Cassandra wondering if an academic career would provide enough opportunities to contribute to change and to building sustainable communities to meet her passion. In the end, this question has helped shape the type of work that she does.

These days Cassandra has embedded her passion for the environment and sustainability into her academic career at Flinders. The focus of Cassandra’s teaching and research is on environmental politics and policy, specifically focused on climate change.

Since 2019 Cassandra has been the Lead of the Climate and Sustainability Policy Research (CASPR) group at Flinders. The work of the CASPR team is centred on improving policy to achieve solutions to secure a sustainable future for our communities. Sustainability requires a focus not just on the natural environment, but on the just and equitable meeting of people’s needs, on the liveability of places where they reside, on participation and partnerships for shared governance and on the long term viability of economic opportunities for communities.

The current work of CASPR is concentrated on projects funded by stakeholders across local, state and federal government in Australia and overseas. These projects include ones investigating coastal adaptation planning, climate resilience in the Indo-Pacific, cross-government disaster preparation and recovery, and the obstacles to securing sustainable development goals post-Covid. Addressing these challenges and informing more effective policy and practice is critical to ensuring community resilience and stronger, more sustainable societies.

As part of the CASPR team, Cassandra supervises a number of PhD students from Australia and overseas. In 2020 she received a research excellence award from the College of Business, Government and Law for her PhD student supervision. The students work on research questions that contribute to the broader CASPR sustainability mission. Their projects include ones that investigate how non-government organisations can be more effective in their advocacy, whether farmers markets contribute to the creation of more sustainable food systems, how effective policy implementation for zero waste can be achieved, overcoming the limitations of corporate-led sustainability and how democratic innovations can produce stronger policy and societies.

Cassandra also teaches both undergraduate and postgraduate students critical insights in environmental politics and policy. She believes teaching plays a key role in the transformation of societies along more sustainable pathways, and has been nationally awarded for her approach. The topics she teaches help shape these pathways to a sustainable future, through the learning and future work lives of her students. Cassandra’s previous students have gone onto pivotal roles in this process, including ones working in the environment movement, in non-government organisations and in the public sector in Australia and all over the world.

It is in these ways that Associate Professor Star continues to contribute to changing the world for the better each day in her work as an academic at Flinders.

You can follow your passions

Flinders Bachelor of International Relations and Political Science has been designed for people like you. People who have a passion for the environment, making change, government and politics, and who want to progress their careers as far as they can.

Flinders Master of Public Policy or the Master of Public Sector Management enables policy analysts and managers to become expert on the fundamentals of public policy making and take the next step into more demanding roles as a senior executive.

The Climate and Sustainability Policy Research Group or CASPR is committed to advancing evidence-based policymaking for issues concerning the environment and sustainability. Our work assists government and private sector stakeholders to achieve greater accountability, effectiveness and innovation local, national and globally.

Graduate ready to shape the world. Gain the skills to drive political, social and economic change. Follow your passions. You will study with SA’s largest group of international relations and political science experts.

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International Relations & Political Science