Professor Wendy Steele

Wendy's research focuses on the nature of cities in climate change with an emphasis on social and environmental equity and the implications for public policy and planning, and urban governance practices. Her recent books include 'Planning Wild Cities: Human-nature relationships in the urban age' (Routledge 2020), 'Quiet Activism: Climate action at the local scale' (Palgrave 2021), and 'The Sustainable Development Goals and Higher Education: A Transformative agenda?' (Palgrave-Macmillan 2021).

Wendy has led large cross-disciplinary Category 1 research projects including a National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility (NCCARF) SEI grant on ‘Climate Change Adaptation as a Cross-border Agenda; an ARC DECRA fellowship (DE 120102428) on ‘The Governance of Critical Infrastructure in Climate Change; and an ARC Discovery project (DP150100299) with Griffith, Macquarie and Curtin Universities and Uni of Tasmania on ‘Socially Innovative Climate Adaptation at the Local Scale’. 

She is the Co-convenor of the Australasian Cities Research Network (ACRN) which organises the State of Australasian Cities (SOAC) biennial conferences. She has been working to help support and promote the vital role of the social sciences, arts and humanities in addressing societies ‘grand challenges’, as well as critical engagement with the Sustainable Development Goals and the role of research impact as social innovation and ethical ethos.  

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Related Content


Rethinking Research Impact

2019 (ongoing)

Researchers and research institutions are increasingly required to demonstrate research impact, but what exactly is research impact and how should we approach it, given the complex challenges the world faces?

Planning for the 21st Century Municipal Markets in Victoria

2020 (ongoing)

The aim of this project is to draw on local and international expertise to develop and disseminate new models and planning guidelines for 21st century municipal markets in Victoria.

Climate Adaptation Australia


The project investigates the framings and practices of local governments, community groups and NGOs as they seek to create local adaptation strategies.

Social innovation for local climate adaptability


This research critically investigates tensions and potentialities between risk-based assessments by local governance agencies and innovations by local groups and NGOs.

News & Blog

CUR Stories

Ordinary people, extraordinary change: addressing the climate emergency through ‘quiet activism’

25 August 2021

Across the world, people worried about the impacts of climate change are seeking creative and meaningful ways to transform their urban environments. One such approach is known as “quiet activism”.

CUR Stories

Reform how our cities are governed to manage urgent urban challenges: report

17 March 2021

Local government collaboration with metropolitan governance in Australian cities must reform to better address urgent urban issues such as climate change action, population growth and urban sprawl, finds new AHURI research.

CUR Stories

How can urban and environmental planning shape a post-pandemic future?

04 October 2020

The adversities of COVID-19 have no doubt changed the way we think about our environments. Here, our teachers discuss the role urban, regional and environmental planning has in shaping a post-pandemic future.

CUR Stories

Churches have legal rights in Australia. Why not sacred trees?

07 November 2019

In Australia, corporations such as Coles and Westpac and even some churches operate as legal entities entitled to most of the rights and responsibilities that individuals possess. Why don’t the Djab Wurrung sacred trees have legal standing?

CUR Stories

Indonesia isn’t the only country planning new cities. Why not Australia?

02 May 2019

The announcement that President Joko Widodo’s government will move Indonesia’s capital to another location, due to the severity of human-induced degradation in Jakarta, highlights a key tension for cities today.

CUR Stories

Business as usual? The Sustainable Development Goals apply to Australian cities too

19 September 2018

We are still settling Australian cities on unceded Aboriginal lands. With the global agreement on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2015, development has finally come home to the developed world.

CUR Stories

What’s critical about critical infrastructure?

03 April 2017

This is the first article in our series Making Cities Work. It considers the problems of providing critical infrastructure and how we might produce the innovations and reforms needed to meet 21st-century needs and challenges.

CUR Stories

Global Forum for Urban and Regional Resilience

18 October 2016

Lauren Rickards, co-leader of the Climate Change and Resilience (CCR) research program, and Raven Cretney, PhD student, represented the CUR at a recent workshop at the Global Forum for Urban and Regional Resilience (GFURR) at Virginia Tech, in Arlington, Virginia.

CUR Stories

Cities in the sky: how do we decide where this urban journey is taking us?

02 October 2016

We shape the city and it shapes us. The idea of “the city” looms large. There are, it seems, no limits to the prospects and possibilities of technology and human entrepreneurship.

CUR Stories

How urban planners are creating cities for the future

22 August 2016

Well-planned cities can encourage people to spend more time outside, commute more sustainably and connect with their communities. Good planning is central to making cities liveable and sustainable.


Wild infrastructure

Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability

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The Sustainable Development Goals in higher education

This book explores the role universities play in fulfilling the Sustainable Development Goals

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Quiet Activism: Socially Innovative Climate Action

Professor Wendy Steele, Jean Hillier, Diana MacCallum, Donna Houston, Jason Byrne

Department of Geography and Planning

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Routledge Handbook of Climate Justice

Professor Wendy Steele, Jean Hillier, Donna Houston, Jason Byrne, Diana MacCallum

Taylor and Francis Group

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