Charles Sturt University
Charles Sturt University

Dr John Rafferty

Dr John Rafferty

EdD M.Ed Grad Dip App Sci Dip Teaching (Primary)

Dr John Rafferty is a nationally, and increasing internationally, recognised teaching and research scholar at the School of Environmental Sciences, Charles Sturt University (CSU). His teaching is directed toward Science Education (SE), Education for Sustainability Development (EfSD) and Community Engagement (CE). A substantial body of his research is directed toward institutional and education responses to climate change and the role of science education in future environments.

John has long championed the value of new technologies and natural environments as both a stimulus and site for teaching and learning. John is working on several projects and initiatives concerning, science education outreach programs, teacher's environmental attitudes and educational responses to sustainability.

Regional Centre of Expertise – Murray Darling (RCE-MD)

The cumulative value of John's extensive networking was recognised with CSU receiving designation from the United Nations University (UNU) as a Regional Centre of Expertise in Education for Sustainable Development, Murray Darling (RCE-MD) in December 2012. The RCE-MD represents an internationally recognised consortium of EfS stakeholders across the region that uniquely undertakes integrated research, educational and community engagement projects. John led and coordinated the establishment of the RCE-MD in collaboration with partnerships with several educational institutions, industry, government authorities and community groups. There are approximately 133 RCE designations around the world, with only four in Australia.

This rare designation provided by the United Nations University positions John strategically within a global network of EfS leaders. The Environmental Justice and Governance for Social Change (EJGSC), an SRA within the ILWS, has been developed as the research arm of the RCE-MD. This multi-disciplinary EJGSC is unique within Australia and will serve as a stimulus for several research programs involving a mix of early career to established researchers. I was awarded an ILWS Research Fellowship to steer the RCE-MD and the EJGSC through this formative period.

As an educator, John has spent nearly 25 years working with very young primary student through to undergraduate, postgraduate and RHD students. His approach to education and philosophy of teaching make him popular among his students and demand as a speaker across the tertiary sector.


EdD Australian Catholic University, Melbourne (2008). Thesis: The emergence of a dominant discourse associated with school programs: A study of CLaSS. Supervisors: Dr W.M. Stephens & Dr Lyn Carter

M.Ed (Educational Leadership), Australian Catholic University, Ballarat (1997).

Grad. Dip. App. Sci. (Teacher Librarianship) Edith Cowan University, Perth (1992).

Dip. Teach (Primary) Australian Catholic University, Canberra (1987).

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Summary of Research foci

The evolutionary nature and impact of neo-liberal ideology

Social, institutional and educational responses to climate change

Impact of education for sustainability within primary secondary and tertiary teaching

Summary of major contribution to foci

The evolutionary nature of neoliberal ideology and the effects of managerialism. Developed a methodology that offers critical perspective on many accepted institutional practices.

Effects of neoliberal ideology in schools (literacy, science education). Debunk myths associated with school reform and opened discussions regarding hidden dangers of reforms.

Effects of neoliberal ideology in university teaching. Developed a new and contentious model for determining university engagement with sustainability.

Develop teaching strategies from alternative education discourses (Science Ed). Challenge existing teaching practices within schools and universities at local, national and international levels.

Contribute new knowledge relevant to the pressing concerns of industry, government and employee organisations about barriers to, and strategies for, effective climate change mitigation and adaptation.

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Learning Communities Project – HEPPP (Component B funding) Commonwealth of Australia $827 083 August 2014 – December 2015

Lead by Dr Rafferty, The Learning Communities project will develop, implement and evaluate a 'partnership program' for students in years 5, 6, 10 and 11 in ten LSES schools across the Southern Riverina and north-east Victoria region.

Operationally, the project comprises 7 components:

  • Design and evaluation of a 'model of engagement'
  • Partnership Advisory Group engagement
  • Professional Development program
  • School Activity program
  • University Outreach program
  • Educational Event program
Our Place Riverina and Murray Project - NSW Office of Environment and Heritage $90,000 May 2013 - Dec 2014

Lead by Dr Rafferty, Our Place is an OEH regional initiative in collaboration with the RCE-MD to help communities to protect their local natural environment and to live more sustainably. Regional partners, such as community organisations and local councils engage with communities around environmental issues that matter to people locally. The Inspired Communities program will involve 3 focus sites; Albury, Holbrook and Deniliquin. The program will operate from May 2013 to December 2014. Program Partners will be funded to deliver the Forums. Program partners are those that have direct links into local communities. OEH will facilitate the initiative, through user friendly website links, online collaboration space and tailored capacity building for needs identified by local groups. Project Team includes Dr Helen Masterman-Smith, Dr Shelby Laird, and Dr Jillian Dunphy. Through a series of forums at each focus site educators and communities have opportunities to network, share resources, showcase local services and providers, identify local priority issues, learn new skills and recognise local achievements. Community leaders, community organisations and local councils will be able to provide feedback to the government on their local priorities and OEH and other Government agencies and organisations are able to respond to, and support local environmental actions.

Recently Completed Projects

The Environmental World View of Teachers: An Exploratory Study of the Environmental Attitudes of Teachers in Australian schools, $12 000- Faculty of Education Small Competitive Grant

This project provided an analysis of the environmental attitudes of Australian schoolteachers. The study utilized mixed methods to probe some of the similarities and differences in environmental attitudes amongst Australian teachers. Information and insights coming from this project are proving to be of critical value to educational policy makers, researchers, practitioners and others committed to preparing families and individuals to live healthy, productive and fulfilling lives in the context of climate change.

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John has been a leader in the use of flexible and blended approaches to tertiary education at CSU. His significant influence on the scholarship of teaching has been recognised and celebrated. He was awarded the Faculty of Education Award for Teaching Excellence – Team Teaching, 2002 with Dr Jenni Munday and Yalmambirra. This award was based on how we developed an assessment item that incorporated Indigenous content, technology and science education. John's influence on best practice teaching and learning within CSU continued as a co-scholarship holder in a 2008 Competitive CELT Teaching and Learning Scholarship ($8500). This scholarship enabled John to research effective pedagogies and practices within blended learning spaces. Through successive presentations and workshops at CSUEd (2010, 2011, 2012) John has been able to promote blended and flexible approaches to teaching and learning. His national and internal contribution to teaching scholarship is further demonstrated through his Teaching Fellowship at the Flexible Learning Institute (FLI) in 2011. In 2014 John was an invited Keynote to James Cook University's Learning and Teaching Week conference.

John welcomes enquiries from potential honours, Masters and PhD students interested in aspects of science education, environmental education and community engagement.

Selected RHD and honours students (past and present):

  • Robert (Dick) Green: cross-cultural understandings of connecting with and belonging to country (multiple methods);
  • Jeanette Carroll: animal activism of the poor (multiple methods);
  • Suzanne Blyth: historical analysis of thermal comfort practices (social history);
  • Rachael Jefferson- Buchanan: the exploration of the commodification of physical education through critical analysis of selected program;
  • Karina Maloney: green roofs/walls; the impact on urban dwellers;
  • Sean Scott;
  • Sheena Elwick;
  • Rhys Longfield.

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Preceding the RCE-MD, John was the Faculty Leader in EfS and established the Inland Living Experience (ILE) with funding from the Faculty ($20 000 over 5 years). As a localised version of the RCE-MD, the ILE provided a platform to initiate diverse activities with various groups internal and external to CSU to develop a suite of campus wide innovations. The innovations were directed at promoting EfS and SE within CSU.

As Chair of and member of numerous University and School committees, John creatively re-combined existing and new resources to maximise the potential of the AW campus as both a site and stimulus for EfS and SE. He has played a leading role in the conversion of campus agricultural land and wetlands to create innovative learning spaces, promotion of world-leading environmentally sustainable campus infrastructure, and several other internally funded projects (exceeding $120k). As a member of the CSU Green Grant Evaluation Committee, John has had direct involvement with the distribution of over $300k within CSU for sustainability projects (2009-13) through the CSU Green Grants Program across all campuses.

While the innovations are diverse, they all share the common characteristics of enhancing the student experience in regard to EfS and SE, augmenting teaching and learning generally, promoting genuine community engagement and facilitating research opportunities. As detailed in his curriculum vitae, the projects John has developed situate students within an integrated and unique environment that provides opportunities to learn from multi-sensory outdoor experiences. Many of the projects mentioned above have changed the physical aspects of the campus to create outdoor learning environments known learningscapes. All the interventions John has initiated provide a suite of exceptional resources for EfS and SE subjects.

Indigenous perspective on EfS and Science

Underpinning all of John's teaching and research is a deep commitment to incorporating Indigenous content within EfS and SE. As a scholarly activist, John made significant contributions to Indigenous education through conceptualising and facilitating two projects: The Indigenous Gathering Site on the Albury Wodonga campus and the Indigenous Concepts of Country and Sustainability (ICCS) mobile app project. The Faculty of Education funded both projects ($50k). As well as designing the projects, John provided leadership and management of the projects with internal and external partners. The Indigenous Gathering Site ($25k) was developed in collaboration with the Wiradjuri Council of Elders and offers an active and authentic cultural exchange between indigenous perspectives and the dominant discourse on a wide variety of issues. The ICCS ($25k) project is nearing completion and will provide a universally unique, creative and important resource for CSU and the sector more generally.

John is honoured to have been given the traditional name, Tharri mayi - which means 'expert teacher' in Ngiyeempaa, from Aunty Beryl Carmichael, a Ngiyeempaa elder. His cross-disciplinary approach and networks have been "vital in enhancing Indigenous issues and education across the University" (personal comments, Dr Barbara Hill). As well as demonstrating his commitment to Indigenous content, both projects highlight how John's extensive skills and experiences in EfS, SE and blended approaches to teaching and learning can be combined.

External competitive:

$2500 Australian Museum Research Grant: Resulted in Science based interventions; A case study of Bugwise. Chief Investigator, Dr John Rafferty

2009: $2 500 Australian Museum Research Grant: Science in the Bush; the role of science-based interventions

2009: $2 700 Albury City Community and Cultural Grant Permablitz; CSU based community engagement program

Internal competitive

2013: $14 950 Capturing the Campus Charles Sturt University's Green Initiatives Grants. Leader, Dr John Rafferty

2012: $14 500 Bio Film Festival. Charles Sturt University's Green Initiatives Grants. Leader, Dr John Rafferty

2012: $32 500 Indigenous gathering and ceremonial site on AW campus. Faculty of Education. Leader, Dr John Rafferty

2012: $30 000 Indigenous Concepts of Country and Sustainability Mobile App project. Faculty of Education. Leader, Dr John Rafferty

2011: $13 500 Bio Cup Project. Charles Sturt University's Green Initiatives Grants. Leader, Dr John Rafferty

2011: $13 500 Bio-Film Festival Charles Sturt University's Green Initiatives Grants. Leader, Dr John Rafferty

2010: $14 000 Information Kiosks Charles Sturt University's Green Initiatives Grants. Leader, Dr John Rafferty

2010: $15 000 Charles Sturt University's Green Initiatives Grants, David Mitchell Wetlands Walking Trail. Leader, Dr John Rafferty

2009: $2 500 Images of sustainability; as study of the Albury Wodonga. CSU Visiting Artist Grant. Campus (8 commissioned creative works capturing the flora, fauna, buildings, spaces and people of the campus)

2007: $20 000 Developing the Inland Living Experience. Faculty Of Education Special Project Grant. Leader, Dr John Rafferty</p> <h3>



2012 Member of the Graduate Learning Outcomes Working Party (Invited by the Dean of Students) ongoing

2011 Member of the CSU Sustainability Advisory Group (Invited by the VC) ongoing

2010 - 2011 Chair of the CSU Degree Initiative Sustainability Advisory Group

2010 Chair of the MSE Research Committee

2009-2011 Board member of Murray Arts (representing the Head of Campus)

2009-2011 Member of NTEU Charles Sturt University Branch Executive

2009-2010 Academic Chair MSE Teaching and Learning Committee

2008-2010 NTEU Delegate to the Charles Sturt University Faculty of Education

2008 Member of Murray School of Education Assessment Committee (ongoing)

2007-12 Chair of the Albury Wodonga Campus Environmental Committee


Australian Campuses Towards Sustainability (ACTS) Vice President (Campus Learning)

Victorian Association of Environmental Education (VAEE)

Australian Association of Environmental Education (AAEE)

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Books, monographs:

Rafferty, J.M. (2010) The Realities of School Reform; The effects of managerial discourse on the work of teachers, principals, and on school improvement LAP Publishing, Germany.

Chapters in Books

Rafferty, J.M. (2012) Design of outdoor and environmentally integrated learning spaces. In Keppel, M, Souter, K, ; Riddle, M. (2010) (Eds.) Physical and virtual learning spaces in higher education: Concepts for the modern learning environment. IGI Global Publications. Hershey, PA.

Rafferty, J.M.; Munday, J.; Buchan, J., (2013) An Investigation into the Enhancement of Blended Learning Environments; toward an effective pedagogy and practice. In Willems, J; Tynan, B. (2012) (Eds) Research in distance and flexible learning. Volume 2: Micro Level Research in Distance and Flexible Learning. IGI Global Publications. Hershey, PA

Journal articles

Rafferty, J.M; Laird, S.G. (2013) Children's observations of place-Based environmental education: Projects worlds apart highlight education for sustainability inherent in many programs. Journal of Sustainability Education

Turunen, T.A.; Rafferty, J.M. (2013) Insights beyond neo-liberal educational practices: The value of discourse analysis. Educational Research for Policy and Practice: Volume 12, Issue 1 (2013), Page 43-56.

Rafferty, J.M. (2010) Critical choices in school reform. International Journal of Critical Pedagogy (IJCP)—Critical Educators at Work: Perils and Promise. Special edition.

Rafferty, J.M.; Munday, J. (2006) Engaging the tensions: democracy in education. Snapshots: The Specialist Schools and Academies Trust Journal in Innovation in Education. Online International Journal: Primary Edition, Vol 3, issue 2, September

Hard, L.M.; Rafferty, J.M. (2004) Reality Bites. Tension and challenges in redefining transitional education. Refereed proceedings. Transition and Change. Transitions in Education. An international conference sponsored by the University of Western Sydney. November 2003 Sydney

Conference papers

Masterman-Smith, H. ; Rafferty, J.M. (2013) Rural 'education for sustainability' through the Australian vocational education sector. The Australian Sociological Association Conference.

Rafferty, J.M. (2013) The Environmental World View of Australian Teachers, World Environmental Educators Congress, Morocco.

Rafferty, J.M. (2012) Locally appropriate Pedagogies: Learningscapes, Australasian Campuses Towards Sustainability, Brisbane

Rafferty, J.M. (2012) Australian Universities and the Green Ceiling, Australian Association of Environmental Educators, Melbourne

Rafferty, J.M. (2011) Australian Discourse, Power, Resistance (DPR) conference, Association for Qualitative Research, Cairns

Rafferty, J.M. (2010) Researching Educational Change Australian Association for Research in Education International Education Research Conference, Melbourne

Rafferty, J.M. (2009) Making the most of your environment. University-Community Engagement for Sustainability, Penang Malaysia

Rafferty, J.M. (2009) The reality of the lived experience: the unanticipated effects of school reform. Australian Teacher Education Association, Albury

Rafferty, J.M. (2007) Beyond progressive education: Democracy in education. Co-authored with J. Munday. Australian Association for Research in Education International Education Research Conference, Fremantle

Rafferty, J.M. (2007) The continuing myth of educational reform. Australian Association for Research in Education International Education Research Conference, Fremantle

Rafferty, J.M. (2004) Tension and challenges in redefining transitional education. Transition and Change. Transitions in Education. An international conference sponsored by the University of Western Sydney.

Rafferty, J.M. (2004) Meeting the challenges of establishing a new teaching degree. Australian Teacher Educators Association Conference, Bathurst

Rafferty, J.M. (2003) School Reform - Programs or Packages? An exploration of one program for whole school literacy reform. Australian Curriculum Studies Association Conference, Adelaide

Rafferty, J.M. (2001) Perspectives for examining a schools' charter for improvement. Australian Curriculum Studies Association Conference, Canberra

Non-refereed Conference papers – sole author, joint author

2008 Buchan, Jenni Munday &amp; Dr John Rafferty - Investigating the enhancement of blended learning environments: all that glitters is not gold. CSUEd Conference

2011 Learning Spaces - Find a new dimensions to static environments. CSUEd Conference. Dr John Rafferty and James Brann

2011 Exploring the Affordances of Student Personal Learning Environments (PLE). CSUEd Conference. Dr John Rafferty

2012 The connected university: Opportunities and challenges for educators and students. CSUEd Conference. Dr John Rafferty; Sharon Laver


Rafferty, J.M., Keppell, M. K.,; Hard, N. (2012). The nexus between space, time, teaching and learning. UNE, Australia: Dehub.

Rafferty, J. M. (2012) Bugwise; Report into the implementation of Science Based Interventions. Reported prepared for the Australia Museum.

Rafferty, J.M.; O'Dwyer, C. (2010) The functional dynamics of the green university. The study reported here conducted by Rafferty and O'Dwyer, was developed as a consultancy for the National Tertiary Education Union.

Kemmis, S., Chambers, S., Stephens, P., Wallace, A. &amp; Rafferty, J.M. (2009) Mainstreaming Education for Sustainability (EfS) in Charles Sturt University (CSU) teacher Education Course. In Steele, F. (2009). Mainstreaming education for sustainability into pre-service teacher education. A Report prepared by the Australian Research Institute in Education for Sustainability for the Australian Government Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts.

Buchan, J., Rafferty, J.M.; Munday, J. (2009) An Investigation into the Enhancement of Blended Learning Environments – A Collaborative Approach. Scholarship in Teaching Project Final Report

Rafferty, J.M. (2008) The Inland Living Experience: Prospectus. A report prepared for the Faculty of Education concerning the feasibility of the ILE and its role within the Faculty and School operational plan and the University's Strategic Plan 2007-2011

Knipe, S., Rafferty, J.M.; Hard, L.M. (2004) Perceptions of reality: Meeting the challenges of establishing a new teaching degree. Australian Teacher Educators Association conference, Bathurst

Rafferty, J. M.; Stephens, W. M. (2001), School public discourse and teacher's personal and practical, discourses: Three perspectives for examining a schools' charter for improvement. Australian Curriculum Studies Association Conference, Canberra.

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