Biography

Allan Curtis holds a strategic research chair as the Professor of Integrated Environmental Management at Charles Sturt University. He was previously the Foundation Director of CSU’s Institute for Land, Water and Society between 2004 and 2007 and Head of Campus at CSU’s Albury Wodonga campus from 2009 to 2011. Prior to his current appointment he was (from 2002-2004) the Social Sciences Program (SSP) Leader in the Australian Government’s Bureau of Rural Sciences (BRS). Allan previously (1992-2002) worked at Charles Sturt University (CSU).

Allan’s research examines the social dimensions of regional natural resource management. He has specific expertise in the role of local organisations in rural development, understanding rural landholder adoption of conservation practices, the policy and institutional arrangements supporting catchment management and in the evaluation of natural resource management programs. Recent experience has included work exploring landholder adaptation to climate change, the social acceptability of managed aquifer recovery, public perceptions of the sustainability of the wild catch commercial fishing sector, preparing socio-economic profiles of catchment communities, and assessments of the socio-economic impact of changes in land use (forestry) and resource access (irrigation water).

Allan has gained in excess of $8.290 million in research grants, including $6.89 million over the past 10 years. He has been awarded Australian Research Council funding through the SPIRT and Large Grant programs and has been successful through the general calls by the Rural Industries R&D Corporations, including RIRDC, LWA and FRDC.

Allan leads a substantial team of social researchers, that currently includes 9 PhD students, 1 Post Doctoral Fellow and 4 Research Fellows. Allan has been the supervisor for 9 PhD completions in the past 3 years.

He is a Principal Investigator in the ARC National Centre for Groundwater Research and Training (NCGRT). His recent experience includes leading social research in the Landscape Logic CERF hub; and as a research partner in the Future Farm Industries and Cotton Catchment Communities CRC’s, the Australian Government’s National Environmental Research Program, Landscapes and Policy hub; and the University of Canberra's, Murray-Darling Futures, Collaborative Research Network.

Allan has authored/co-authored in excess of 250 academic publications. His publications include 4 refereed books, 86 refereed journal articles, 25 refereed book chapters, 103 technical research reports and 110 major conference papers.

Drawing on theory of program evaluation, rural development and extension, Allan’s research has been at the forefront of international efforts to assess and sustain the contribution of local organisations to natural resource management. His research into landcare and catchment management is the largest and most comprehensive body of work on these organisations in Australia and of similar organisations in any developed economy. In Australia, these research findings have contributed to major national reviews, including State of the Environment 1996 (C’wealth of Aust. 1996) and Australians and the environment (ABS 1996); and the refinement of state and national programs, including the National Landcare Program. His evaluation methodology formed the basis of the $1.5 million 2004/2007 Monitoring and Evaluation Project (MEP) for the $120 million National Landcare Program (NLP) managed by the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF).

Allan has also established an international reputation for his work integrating social and economic data with biophysical data to improve decision making by Catchment Management Authorities (CMA). This work has moved beyond the typical use of census data that has limited relevance to catchment managers, to collect spatially referenced data from landholders that provide insights into their values, knowledge, skills, confidence in and adoption of recommended practices, and their long-term plans. This research employs mail surveys developed in collaboration with regional CMA that consistently achieve response rates in excess of 50%. This research has been adopted by the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry as best-practice and projects based on this approach have been undertaken in 9 catchments in Australia.

Allan has/is undertaking nationally significant research projects related to the management of ground water, assessment of regional NRM governance, landholder adaptation to climate change, dryland salinity, landcare, river frontages and wetlands, farm forestry, aquaculture and providing social data to underpin catchment management.

Allan has over 30 years experience as a teacher at tertiary and secondary school levels. In 1990 he was awarded the ABC/Greening Australia National Tree Care award for the landcare education program that he initiated and coordinated for ten years.

Born and raised in Orbost, East Gippsland in Victoria, Allan was directly involved in farming, fishing and forestry before leaving Gippsland to attend Melbourne University. From an early age he was aware of the issues facing rural communities dependent on natural resources. After completing his undergraduate degree, Allan moved to North East Victoria, teaching geography and politics to country high school students. His interest in natural resource management led to a long term involvement in landcare and catchment management, including initiating the first secondary education landcare program in Australia, which was awarded the Greening Australia/ ABC TV National Tree Care Award in 1990. Allan has represented North East Victoria as a Ministerial appointee to the Murray Darling Basin Ministerial Council's Community Advisory Council, and served on the North East Catchment Management Board for five years.

Previous appointments

  • Allan was the foundation Director of the Institute for Land, Water and Society (CSU) from 2004 - 2007.
  • Leader of the Social Sciences Program in the Bureau of Rural Sciences (BRS) 2002 - 2004. BRS is the scientific bureau of the Commonwealth Department of Agriculture, Fisheries & Forestry – Australia (DAFF).
  • Allan previously (1992-2002) worked at Charles Sturt University (CSU) where his most recent appointments were as a Key Researcher and the Associate Director of the Johnstone Centre.