Fellows Detail

Professor Rebekah Brown

BEng (Civil) (Hons) (Monash), PhD (Environmental Studies) (UNSW)

Elected: 2017

Discipline: Geography

Specialisation: Integrated urban water management, institutional analysis, urban water governance, natural resource management, urban sustainability, sustainable development, socio-technical, urban water management, cities, capacity building, transition, extreme events, past climates of Australia, climate change policy, drought, fire and flood, adaptive governance


As a Professor of Social Science with a background as a practising and award-winning civil engineer, Brown is internationally recognised for having introduced a social science perspective to urban water management, challenging the dominant engineering paradigm in scholarship, policy and practice.

She pioneered a sociotechnical model to water management, a highly influential model in the development of urban water policy in Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, in a major UNESCO analysis of 33 cities, and in UN-Habitat’s current formulation of policy on urban drainage. Brown’s socio-technical water management framework is used extensively to inform public policy and strategy across Australian water and land development sectors, and by international organisations such as the Asian Development Bank, UN Habitat, UNESCO and the European Union. It also underpinned the OECD’s water policy and South Australia’s Water for Good strategy.

Brown co-created the scholarly concept of Water Sensitive Cities, contributing new understandings of the relational dynamics amongst green technology development, community receptivity, institutional change and governance practices for greater sustainable development outcomes. The language of Water Sensitive Cities is now widely adopted in scholarship and urban water policy and the impact of Rebekah’s achievements is in facilitating the adoption and diffusion of water sensitive technologies and approaches in industry and government.

Her work in integrating the HASS and STEM disciplines has also had a profound impact on research and practice globally. Rebekah has led a number of major interdisciplinary research projects, including the successful application for the A$120M Cooperative Research Centre for Water Sensitive Cities, a national research centre to implement water-sensitive approaches in Australia. As the Centre’s former Chief Research Officer she successfully led the integration of research outcomes from over 170 researchers and 40 doctoral students from multiple institutions and 20 disciplines.

Rebekah has been awarded multiple research grants including from the Australian Research Council. She now leads an international research consortium undertaking a water sensitive revitalisation of informal settlements across Asia-Pacific. The Wellcome Trust funded project will provide an evidence-based assessment of the efficacy of water sensitive technologies in developing country contexts, particularly in relation to improving fundamental human health outcomes.

As a research and practice leader at the interface of water technologies and their diffusion, Rebekah frequently gives keynote speeches, most recently at 2016 Singapore Water Week. Rebekah has published in premier journals in her field, including Nature, Science, Global Environmental Change and Water Research, and is on a number of international Editorial Boards. Rebekah recently completed a 3 year term on the Governing Council of Monash University, and joined the Board of Victorian Environment Protection Authority in January 2017.


2015– Current    Director & Professor, Monash Sustainable Development Institute

2017 – Current   Board Member Environment Protection Authority, Victoria

2013– 2016         Councilor, Monash University

2011– 2014         Chief Research Officer (CRO), CRC for Water Sensitive Cities

2010 –2014        Associate Director Monash Water for Liveability Centre, Monash University

2010 – 2014       Professor School of Social Sciences, Monash University

2005-2010         Associate Professor, Senior Lecturer School of Geography and Environmental Science, Monash University

2003-2005        Lecturer Institute of Environmental Studies, The University of New South Wales

1999-2004        Director and Owner ARK Partners

1994-2000        Engineer / Senior Engineer Ove Arup & Partners


Finalist, 2010 Australian Museum Eureka Prize in Water Research and Innovation

Named as a national leader for Urban + Industrial Water on the 2010 WME Environment and Business Leaders List

Recipient, 2010 Monash University, Faculty of Arts, Dean’s Award for Excellence in Innovation and External Collaboration

Recipient, 2007 Monash University Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Research by an Early Career Researcher

Recipient, 2006 Australian Stormwater Industry Association, Award for Excellence in Stormwater Community Education, 2006

Recipient, 1995 Australian Ove Arup and Partners, Award for Excellence in Engineering Studies

Recipient, 1991-1994, Melbourne Water Corporation’s Scholarship for Outstanding Performance in Engineering Studies


Website: https://www.monash.edu/sustainable-development/sustainability-institute
Email: rebekah.brown [at] monash.edu
Work Phone: 03 9905 0124

Contact Information

Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia

    ABN: 59 957 839 703
  • Location: 26 Balmain Crescent, Acton, ACT 2601
  • Postal: GPO Box 1956, Canberra, ACT 2601
  • +61 .2 62491788
  • +61 .2 62474335
  • secretariat@assa.edu.au