Dr Rochelle Spencer
PhD

Senior Lecturer

About me

I’m interested in the relationship between anthropology and development, particularly how development practices shape and influence social and cultural behaviours.

My research embodies my commitment to the application of anthropological knowledge to development practice emphasising participatory processes. I draw on my cross-cultural expertise to inform my research with the intention of shaping local development practices. My strengths lie in applying participatory approaches to the design, implementation and evaluation of development projects that help to inform technical expertise, programming and policy. In this way, my research has significant applied real world outcomes by informing the development policy and processes of non-governmental organisations (NGOs), the private sector, government, and development agencies to ensure the inclusion of local perspectives in development.

My rural livelihoods research in Africa focuses on elements such as the decisions that smallholder farmers, pastoralists and livestock herders make about their crops, animals and land. My interest is in how these choices by poor farmers are constrained by lack of access to services, markets, credit, poor governance, weak policies, ethnic/gender/cultural/educational barriers, and political instability resulting in few options to maintain secure, or sustainable food production in the face of crises.

Over the past two decades I have worked and researched with a number of NGOs including British Red Cross, Australian Red Cross, Oxfam Australia, Global Exchange, Catholic Relief Services Southern Africa and Nuwul Environmental Services – an Indigenous social enterprise in northeast Arnhem Land, Australia.

Currently I lecture undergraduate units in international aid and sustainable development in the School of Business and Governance and postgraduate units in the Masters of Development Studies in the Sir Walter Murdoch School of Public Policy and International Affairs. My teaching concerns the role of agency in development and the structural inequalities that lead to uneven and unequal development. Students learn critical skills in analysing how development discourses and practices shape the everyday lives of marginalised people, that often have unintended consequences, both positive and negative. They learn about power relations and how to bring about change. We explore sustainable development approaches for living within a safe and equitable operating space of the planetary boundaries in the anthropocene. I supervise Masters research theses across a number of Masters programmes and a cohort of PhD projects in various topics pertaining to processes of development.

I am a founding co-director of the Centre for Responsible Citizenship and Sustainability - a multidisciplinary hub for teaching and research that endeavours to shape new thinking and practice around three core streams:

capacity development, sustainability, nonprofit management and leadership

http://www.murdoch.edu.au/Research-capabilities/CRCS/

I sit on the committee of the Research for Development Impact network affiliated and supported by the Australian Council for International Development.

 

Teaching area

Overseas Aid and International Development (theories and case studies around recent debates informing development, motivations behind international aid, and the attendant difficulties in its delivery)

Critical Approaches to Development (mega theories, critical perspectives, approaches, issues)

Development and Sustainability (planetary boundaries, anthropocene, sustainable development goals, food security, climate change adaptation and mitigation)

Development and Change (theories of power, power relations, stakeholder analysis, social change)

International Aid and Development in Practice (capstone unit for international aid & development students`involving a placement or project)

 

Research areas

Capacity Development Research:

  • Indigenous Social Enterprise – this research focuses on endogenous development initiatives of an Indigenous social enterprise Nuwul in north east Arnhem Land in the township of Yirrkala. Funding Body: Murdoch University Small Grant Scheme and School Business and Governance Small Grant Scheme
  • Resourcing Rural Livelihoods Kenya – this is a collaboration between Business 4 Development, Base Resources, Cotton On and Strathmore University. We are coauthoring a case study on the LINC model and in what ways it catalyses and co-creates inclusive business ventures and pro-poor value chains in Kwale Kenya. Through empirical research we explore how partnerships between the private sector, other sector partners and local communities addressing rural poverty, and in what ways such development efforts might create shared value partnerships to advance economic and social conditions of the rural poor.
  • Agroenterprise in Africa – Working with a team of multidisciplinary research partners in Australia and Africa we explore two interrelated approaches to agro-enterprise of the rural poor in southern Africa. Funding Body: Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (Category One)
  • Social, Economic, Institutional Dimensions Network for Climate Adaptation - A collaboration with five universities (University of Sunshine Coast (project lead), Swinburne University of Technology, University of Adelaide, University of Canberra) to develop a community of practice. The network has collaboratively worked to undertake knowledge transfer, develop uptake and application of information and tools, and increase the capacity of adaptation end-users to use research outputs. Outputs included 4 Peer Learning Events with practitioners across Australia, one Early Career Researcher and Practitioner all-day workshop, and launched the National Adaptation Research Plan at Murdoch University with policy makers, practitioners and researchers working in climate change attending. Funding Body: National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility (NCCARF) (Category One)
  • Youth Service Learning - this postdoctoral research explored processes through which youth in low socio-economic communities in NSW and Victoria participated either voluntarily or as part of a school curriculum in service learning. The research explored service-learning as a pedagogy of engagement and as a technology of citizenship – that is, discourses and programs of service-learning that promote participatory education. Through their participation in service learning students acquire important civic qualities not simply through theoretical teaching within the confines of the classroom but also, and more importantly, through experiential programs of immersion that involve them in a direct and personal way with their communities. Funding Body: Australian Research Council (Category One)

Economies in Transition Research:

  • Cuba remains an important research interest for me particularly the nexus between tourism and NGOs in Cuba and how forms of transnational solidarity and critical development cognizance are produced through experiential learning tours. Building on this
 research theme, I am interested in Cuba as an economy in transition and the social
 implications for quotidian experiences for local people negotiating this
 social change and the state’s responses to managing these. Research on Cuba is timely as it is thrust into the global market system. Cuba has a
 dual exchange rate system, a two-tiered economy, and endures trade and economic sanctions from the
 United States. Since the early 1990s, the Cuban government has
 introduced tourism as a leading development policy. Tourism provides a sharp lens to analyse the political and social
 responses to globalisation and the relationships between community, industry
 and state in developing sustainable tourism outcomes. My research explores opportunities for
 self-determination through tourism as development.

 

Current projects

Capacity Development Research:

  • Indigenous Social Enterprise - this research focuses on endogenous development initiatives of an Indigenous social enterprise Nuwul in north east Arnhem Land in the township of Yirrkala. Funding Body: Murdoch University Small Grant Scheme and School Business and Governance Small Grant Scheme
  • Resourcing Rural Livelihoods Kenya - this is a collaboration between Business 4 Development, Base Resources, Cotton On and Strathmore University. We are coauthoring a case study on the LINC model and in what ways it catalyses and co-creates inclusive business ventures and pro-poor value chains in Kwale Kenya. Through empirical research we explore how partnerships between the private sector, other sector partners and local communities addressing rural poverty, and in what ways such development efforts might create shared value partnerships to advance economic and social conditions of the rural poor.
  • Agroenterprise in Africa - Working with a team of multidisciplinary research partners in Australia and Africa we explore two interrelated approaches to agro-enterprise of the rural poor in southern Africa. Funding Body: Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (Category One)
  • Social, Economic, Institutional Dimensions Network for Climate Adaptation - A collaboration with five universities (University of Sunshine Coast (project lead), Swinburne University of Technology, University of Adelaide, University of Canberra) to develop a community of practice. The network has collaboratively worked to undertake knowledge transfer, develop uptake and application of information and tools, and increase the capacity of adaptation end-users to use research outputs. Outputs included 4 Peer Learning Events with practitioners across Australia, one Early Career Researcher and Practitioner all-day workshop, and launched the National Adaptation Research Plan at Murdoch University with policy makers, practitioners and researchers working in climate change attending. Funding Body: National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility (NCCARF) (Category One)

 

Awards and grants

Grants

I have a strong track record of securing competitive funding for research collaborations. To date, in collaboration with my counterparts I have secured $1.737,835.00 of which a large proportion is from Category 1 funding.

  • Agroenterprise Africa Project, Category 1 Australian Development Research Award, Davina Boyd, Rochelle Spencer, John Davis, Catherine Mthinda, Charles Masangano DFAT, $453,972
  • Social, Economic, Institutional Dimensions Network, Category 1 National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility (NCCARF), Tim Smith, Rochelle Spencer, Martin Brueckner, Barbara Norman, Melissa Nursey-Bray, Dana Thomsen, John Fien, $395,000
  • Indigenous Social Enterprise Murdoch Small Grant and Business & Governance Seed Funding, Martin Brueckner, Rochelle Spencer, $61,588
  • Capacity Development and Australia Red Cross, Category 1 ARC Linkage Project (LP0882152), Rochelle Spencer, Richie Howitt, Michael Fine, Robyn Dowling, Bob Fagan, Kevin McCracken, $690,275
  • Red Cross Young Women’s Health Program Evaluation, Macquarie University External Collaborative Grant Scheme, Rochelle Spencer, $67,000
  • Macquarie Park Community Capacity Building Animation Project, Macquarie University External Collaborative Grant Scheme, Gillian Vogl, Rochelle Spencer, Lorraine Gibson, Kristian Rumming, $50,000
  • Development of Assessment Tool for HACC Services, Department of Aging, Disability and Home Care, Michael Fine, Rochelle Spencer, $20,000
Awards
  • 2017 Vice Chancellor’s Awards for Excellence in Learning and Teaching
  • 2015 School of Management and Governance Certificate of Merit in Teaching Outcomes
  • 2013 Nominated for Vice Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching
Scholarships
  • 2018 Case Writing Scholarship, The Case Centre, £1,000 ($1,770AUD)

I speak at events on issues pertaining to capacity development, Africa, women’s empowerment, rural livelihoods. Each year I am involved in Australia Africa Week and Africa Down Under.

Examples include invited speaker to the Australia-Africa Trade and Investment Forum that brought together influential women leaders and decision makers from across government, business and academia to promote women’s empowerment and engagement in developing new multi-sector opportunities and people-to-people links between Australia and Africa.

As co-Director of the Centre for Responsible Citizenship and Sustainability, I most recently was invited to participate in:

  • Attorney General’s Department consultation process on ‘modern slavery in supply chains’
  • DFAT’s roundtable on ‘Australian Aid Engaging the Community’
  • The Asia Foundation and ACFID’s roundtable on ‘Civil Society Partnerships for Development Cooperation: Australian and Asian Experience’

 

 

Professional and community service

Socially relevant real-world research 

By engaging directly with communities, NGOs, development agencies, nonprofits, social enterprises, government agencies, and the private sector I develop partnerships that strategically embed the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to meet the increasing demands of communities, development practitioners, businesses and students for sustainable development knowledge central to tackling the key global challenges.

Partnerships I have helped to develop with the Centre for Responsible Citizenship and Sustainability include: Nuwul Indigenous social enterprise and Rirratjingu Aboriginal Corporation, Catholic Relief Services, Business for Development, Cotton On, NCCARF, Base Resources, communities and universities in Malawi and Kenya to work on research that directly speaks to the 2030 Agenda.

Committee Member – Research for Development Impact Network

The RDI Network is a network of practitioners, researchers and evaluators working in international development.

Working in close partnership with the Australian Council for International Development (ACFID), the Network functions as a key cross-sector platform for shared learning and action in the international development sector.

The Network is supported by the Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT).

https://rdinetwork.org.au/

 

Committee member – Hilton Harvest Community Garden

Hilton Harvest is a community garden established in 2009 and involves activities and events for the local community. We welcome members and encourage you to come along to our weekly activities and annual events. Visit us at Rennie Crescent South, Hilton to see what’s happening or you can find out about upcoming activities at:

http://hiltonharvest.weebly.com/

https://www.facebook.com/search/top/?q=Hilton%20Harvest%20Community%20Garden

 

Editorial Board

Anthropology and Sociology

Professional Memberships

  • International Society for Applied Anthropology
  • Research for Development Impact Network
  • Global Development Professionals Network
  • Critical Development Studies Network
  • Oxfam Australia

 

 

Doctoral and masters supervisions

PhD Supervisions [currently not accepting new students]

Carlos Palacios. The Skeptical Practice of Freedom: Humanitarian Sense in Neoliberal Conditions, Department of Sociology, Macquarie University (submitted)

Cameron Tero. Mapping Humanitarian Routes through Narrative Enquiry, School of Arts, Murdoch University

Charles Roche. First do no harm: Eudaimonia and extractives at a local scale in PNG, Centre for Responsible Citizenship and Sustainability, Murdoch University

Esther Harris. Women in Mining Association of West Africa Development Initiative, Centre for Responsible Citizenship and Sustainability, Murdoch University

Jean Wootton. The transfer of leadership skills developed in the training of volunteer leaders of youth in the workplace. School of Business and Governance, Murdoch University

Sharee Bauld. Is tourism an effective development strategy? An analysis of the effectiveness of tourism development as a donor-funded aid strategy in developing countries. School of Arts, Murdoch University

Brent McKenna. Lived experience on the Pilbara frontier during a development boom bust cycle as a critical analysis of sustainable development agendas, Centre for Responsible Citizenship and Sustainability, Murdoch University

Tilsa Guima-Chinen. The (Im)possibilities of eating: an ethnographic study on food insecurity among refugees living in Western Australia, School of Arts, Murdoch University

Elaine Xu. Ascribing and achieving agency through narratives of charitable need, School of Arts, Murdoch University

Jennifer Buchanan. Digital platforms for supporting the maintenance and regeneration of Indigenous language and cultural forms, School of Arts, Murdoch University

Hare Krisna Kundo. Relationships between forms of capital and Indigenous engagement in community based tourism: Lessons from Bali, Centre for Responsible Citizenship and Sustainability, Murdoch University

Masters Supervisions

Vanessa Kiuna. Rethinking aid effectiveness for quality of life in the global South

Benson Hahambu.  What lessons can Papua New Guinea policymakers learn and apply with respect to internal forced-migration from similar instances in other countries as a result of Climate Change?

Brendon Dhu. Challenges and Innovations of Urban Community Led Total Sanitation: Case Study Findings from New Delhi, India

Ariel Lubin. Interning in Hanoi: how financial constraints effect strategic focus and operating structure

Catherine Ryan. Measuring Sustained Wellbeing: Global lessons for developing communities

Ei Hnin Phyi Htun. Studying the functions and organizations of the political party National League for Democracy (NLD) throughout the political transition in Myanmar

Emiko Mori-Wiffen. The Role of Men and Women in Kbal Koh Village Cambodia: A Case Study

Gabriel Essack. Displacement as power relationship: To what extent is development-induced displacement a power relationship issue?

Gillian Fauzi. The Implementation of Incentive-Based Education for People in Rural Areas Where Education is Less Prioritised: A Case Study of illiteracy rate reduction in Jayawijaya Region, Papua, Indonesia

Janet Pritchard. Sustainability in Healthcare: a sustainability audit of hospitals

Jodie Healy. What implications do food production choices have in Lebanon on economic, social and ecological sustainability and sovereignty and how can individual smallholder agriculture practices be located within the framework of food sovereignty?

Judith Mandebvu. Empowering women in the fight against HIV/AIDS in Sub Saharan Africa

Pham Hien Luong. Climate Change Policy in Vietnam: Impacts on the agriculture sector

Kinley Gyeltshen. Climate Change Adaptation and Vulnerability Assessment in Royal Manas National Park, Bhutan: a case study focusing on livelihoods

Tang Ngoc Lan. Promoting Sustainable Economic Development and Climate Change Adaptation in Vietnam Mekong Delta

Natalia Saeed. Engineers Without Borders Australia Cambodia Humanitarian Design Summit

Stacey Chilcott. The importance of documentary in Sustainability Awareness: case study of the Rivera Maya, Mexico

Dhruvi Shethia. Mobile Finance in Kenya: the case of M-Pesa serving the poorest of the poor

 

 

 

 

 

 

Publications

Journal Articles:

Spencer, R., Mthinda, C., Masangano, C., Boyd, D., and Davis, J. (2018) Uptake and Resistance: the rural poor and user-pays agricultural extension in Malawi, World Development Perspectives. DOI:10.1016/j.wdp.2018.04.005

Spencer, R., Brueckner, M., Wise, G. and Marika, B. (2017) Capacity Development and Indigenous Social Enterprise: the case of the Rirratjingu Clan in northeast Arnhem Land, Journal of Management and Organisation, special issue Perspectives on Indigenous Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Enterprise.

Spencer, R. (2017) ‘Development Tourism in Cuba: Experiential Learning and Solidarity in the Development Tourism Encounter’, Tourism Planning and Development special issue on Cuba. DOI: 10.1080/21568316.2017.1403371

Spencer, R. (2017) ‘Pedagogies of Engagement: a case study of school-based service-learning’, Third Sector Review. Special Issue. 23(1): 77-99.

Paull, M., Spencer, R. and Brueckner, M. (2017) ‘Editorial: Volunteering as a Subject for Research’, Third Sector Review. Special Issue. 23(1): 1-5.

Brueckner, M., Spencer, R., Wise, G. and Marika, B. (2016) ‘A Third Space Social Enterprise: Closing the Gap through Cross-Cultural Learning’, Australian Aboriginal Studies Journal. 2: 18-32.

Spencer, R., Brueckner, M., Wise, G. and Marika, B. (2016) ’Australian Indigenous social enterprise: measuring performance’, Journal of Enterprising Communities: People and Places in the Global Economy, 10(4): 397-424. **Outstanding Paper 2017 Emerald Literati Awards for Excellence**

Brueckner, M., Spencer, R., Wise, G. and Marika, B. (2014) ‘Indigenous Entrepreneurship: Closing the Gap on local terms’, Journal of Australian Indigenous Issues, 17(2).

Books:

Brueckner, M., Spencer, R., and Paull, M. (2018) Disciplining the Undisciplined: perspectives on responsible citizenship, corporate social responsibility and sustainability, UK: Springer.

Spencer, R. (2010) Development Tourism: Lessons from Cuba, Ashgate: UK

Book Chapters:

Spencer, R., Paull, B. and Brueckner, M. (2018) ‘Towards epistemological pluralism and transdisciplinarity: Responsible citizenship, CSR and sustainability revisited’. In Disciplining the Undisciplined: perspectives on responsible citizenship, corporate social responsibility and sustainability, UK: Springer.

Brueckner, M., Spencer, R. and Paull, M. (2018) ‘Teaching for tomorrow: Preparing responsible citizens’ In Disciplining the Undisciplined: perspectives on responsible citizenship, corporate social responsibility and sustainability, UK: Springer.

Spencer, R. (2018) Corporate Social Responsibility as Sustainable Development: a critical anthropology of development perspective, in Disciplining the Undisciplined: perspectives on responsible citizenship, corporate social responsibility and sustainability, UK: Springer. 

Brueckner, M., Spencer, R., Girardi, A., Paull, M., and Klomp, S. (2017). Journeying towards Responsible Citizenship and Sustainability. In Arevalo, J.A. & Mitchell, S.F. (eds). Sustainability in Management Education: In Search of a Multidisciplinary, Innovative and Integrated Approach through University Leadership, Scholarship and Partnership. New York: Edward Elgar Publishing.

Spencer, R. (2010) ‘Rights-Based Tourism – tourist engagement in social change, globalised social movements, and endogenous development in Cuba’, in R. Sharpley (ed) Tourist Experiences: Meanings, Motivations and Behaviours, Routledge: UK

Spencer, R. (2008) ‘Lessons from Cuba: a voluntary army of ambassadors’, in S. Wearing and K. Lyons (eds) Journey of Discovery in Volunteer Tourism: International Case Study Perspectives. CABI Publishers: UK.

Broad, S. and Spencer, R. (2008) ‘Shifting Paradigms: the convergence of tourism, conservation and development’, in S. Babu, B. J. Parida, and S. Mishra (eds) Tourism Business: some reflections on a changing paradigm. Sage: India.

Reports:

Smith, T., Barnett, J., Brueckner, M., Connor, S., Dovers, S., Fien, J., Head, B., McAllister, R., Norman, B., Nursey-Bray, M., Rist, P., Spencer, R., Thomsen, D. and Wilson, S. (August 2016) National Adaptation Research Plan: social, economic, institutional dimensions, commissioned by the Government of Australia.

Spencer, R. (2014) ‘Youth Capacity Building in Australian Red Cross: Y Challenge as a model of Service Learning‘, Centre for Research on Social Inclusion: Sydney.

Spencer, R. and G. Vogl (2010) Turning Points: Evaluation of Red cross Young Parents Program, Centre for Research on Social Inclusion: Sydney.

Fine, M. and R. Spencer (2007) Development of an Assessment Tool for HACC Services. Report for the Department of Aging, Disability and Home Care.

Policy Briefs:

SMART Skills for Promoting Entrepreneurship and Agricultural Commercialisation in Malawi and Zambia (2017) Policy Brief disseminated to NGOs and donors, government and agricultural bodies in Malawi and Zambia.

Creating Sustainable Farmer to Farmer Extension: lessons learned from private service providers (2016) Policy Brief to Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

A Local Response to Agroenterprise: SMART Private Service Providers (2014) Policy Brief to Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade