Research improving regional sustainability

The Advancing Rural, Regional Culture and Society (ARRCS) group investigates opportunities, resilience and future sustainability of rural and regional environments and communities. The regions we study encompass geographies, environments, infrastructures, cultural and governmental forms, and spatialised and digital networks.

We analyse the capacity of local communities to flourish – or not – through socio-cultural, environmental, educational, economic and political lenses.

Our research areas

Our research is informed by regional voices and experiences and is sensitive to the specific geographies and contexts that shape life in diverse local places. Multidisciplinary in nature, our research focuses on six areas:

  • Communicating climate and environmental challenges in contested regional environments
  • Securing media and information networks and infrastructures
  • Exploring media, creative industries and place-making
  • Understanding place-based knowledge and narratives
  • Promoting secure and safe regions
  • Critically analysing issues, perceptions, contestations around regions and notions of rurality

Opportunities for rural and regional communities

When you study a PhD or postdoctoral research with the Advancing Rural, Regional Culture and Society group, you'll be supported by renowned researchers.

Explore our research degrees

Featured projects

Our partnerships with government, community and industry allow us to deliver research with impact. We lead bold initiatives that seek solutions beyond traditional research and organisational boundaries.

The literary past and future of an Australian region

The literary past and future of an Australian region

Reading in the Mallee, led by Professor Emily Potter, is an Australian Research Council-funded project exploring the literary history of the Mallee region in collaboration with Mallee readers. Putting readers at its centre, the project investigates how reading in place generates diverse and new understandings of the region, its environment, community, history and future. The project creates vital spaces of sociality and connection through shared reading practices.

Media innovation and the civic future of Australia’s country press

Media innovation and the civic future of Australia’s country press

At a time when the future of news and public interest journalism are facing unprecedented challenges, this research project provides a comprehensive assessment of the civic value of small independent newspapers in rural, regional and suburban Australia. Led by Professor Kristy Hess, this project offers urgently needed evidence and strategies to rethink media innovation, inform industry practice and federal communication policy.

Our researchers

Our research group brings a range of disciplinary expertise to deliver projects that have a real impact on regional sustainability. Our group is led by co-convenors:

Professor Emily Potter is the Associate Head of School, Research in the School of Communication and Creative Arts. Her research sits in an interdisciplinary space, focusing on the intersections of cultural production and environments.

Professor Kristy Hess is a professor in the School of Communication and Creative Arts. Her research focuses on the relationship between journalism, place-making and social order, especially in local and digital settings.

Dr Gabi Mocatta is a lecturer in communication, journalism in the School of Communication and Creative Arts. Her research and teaching focuses on environmental and climate change communication, including the ways that environmental conflicts play out in the media.

Research team

Dr Richie Barker, Senior Lecturer, Communication

Dr Adam Cardilini, Lecturer, Environmental Science

Associate Professor Rea Dennis, Associate Professor, Art and Performance

Dr Rachel Fetherston, Lecturer

Dr Julie Freeman, Senior Lecturer, Communication

Professor Gabrielle Fletcher, Director, NIKERI Institute

Professor Kristy Hess, Professor of Communication

Dr Erin Hawley, Senior Lecturer, Communication

Associate Professor Linda Hobbs, Associate Head of School, Research

Associate Professor Max Kelly, Associate Professor, International and Community Development

Associate Professor Julieanne Lynch, Associate Professor of Education (Pedagogy and Curriculum)

Dr Gabi Mocatta, Lecturer in Communication, Journalism

Alison McAdam, Lecturer in Professional Practice (Communication)

Dr Tebeje Molla Mekonnen, ARC Future Fellow

Associate Professor Trace Ollis, Associate Professor in Education (Applied Learning)

Professor Emily Potter, Associate Head of School, Research

Professor Matthew Ricketson, Professor of Communication

Dr Maria Rae, Senior Lecturer in Politics and Policy Studies

Dr Ian Warren, Senior Lecturer in Criminology

Our partners

Our strong and active ties to external partners ensure our research has a real-world impact. Our partners include:

  • Public Libraries Victoria
  • Australian Broadcasting Corporation
  • Country Press Australia
  • Natural Hazards Research Australia
  • Mildura Rural City Council Libraries
  • Gunnawarra Shire Libraries
  • Elliot News Group
  • Mparntwe Alice Springs Community Foundation
  • Victorian Drought and Innovation Hub (with Deakin’s Centre for Rural and Regional Futures)
  • Brophy Youth and Family Services (with Deakin’s Centre for Rural Health)
  • Barwon Community Legal Centre
  • Australian Communications Consumer Action Network
  • Geelong and Warrnambool Magistrate’s Courts
  • Victorian Department of Education
  • The Invergowrie Foundation.

Contact us

Our team is here to answer your questions and help you learn more about the Advancing Rural, Regional Culture and Society group.