School of Environment

Research themes

Our vision at the School of Environment is to be a nationally and internationally influential community of scientists and social scientists. We wish to excel in research, teaching and learning that enhances understanding and applications relating to society, place, Earth systems and environment, especially in New Zealand and the Asia Pacific.

The research and teaching interests of the school fall into 12 broad themes:


  • Coasts and rivers

    The Coasts and Rivers group investigates the natural processes operating on the landscape, from catchment to coast. Our studies are conducted across a range of temporal and spatial scales.

  • Environmental Change

    We are particularly interested in the origin, evolution and adaptation of life on Earth over more than 4 billion years, the adaptation of tropical islands to climate change, and proxy records.

  • Hazards and Disasters

    The School of Environment study of natural hazards and disasters is particularly relevant for New Zealand, given its unique geological and geographical setting and its reputation as a ‘natural laboratory’ for investigations into climate change, volcanism and earthquakes.

  • Marine Geosciences

    New Zealand’s volcanic environment makes it an ideal natural laboratory for studying magmatic systems.

  • Our Changing Forests

    School of Environment study into changing forests looks at how forest ecosystems face a wide range of threats such as deforestation, pathogen outbreaks and climate change.

  • Pacific Futures

    The School of Environment Pacific Futures research theme explores the multiple dimensions of the environmental, social, cultural and political challenges confronting Pacific nations.

  • Political Ecologies and Environmental Justice

    Those who work in this area are often committed ethically and methodologically to activist and community-based research, advocacy and alternative forms of representation.

  • Population, Mobilities and Wellbeing

    The School of Environment study of Population, Mobilities and Wellbeing, investigates the changing nature of population dynamics and the multiple determinants of wellbeing viewed through the lens of mobility.

  • Stratigraphy, Tectonics and Natural Resources

    Our research incorporates many aspects of the Pacific region’s diverse tectonic settings and natural resources, including hydrocarbons, geothermal energy, mineral deposits and aggregates.

  • Urban Environments and Ecosystems

    School of Environment research addresses how bio-physical systems operate in urban areas and the role of humans in driving processes within 'urban ecosystems.'