Ben Cooke

Dr Benjamin Cooke

Senior Lecturer

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Profile photo of Ben Cooke smiling towards the camera against an out of focus background of a building and trees

Contact details

DSC | School of Global, Urban and Social Studies


Centre for Urban Research


Emailben.cooke@rmit.edu.au


Phone: +61 39925 9943


Campus: Melbourne City


Programs

More information

Profile photo of Ben Cooke smiling towards the camera against an out of focus background of a building and trees

Contact details

DSC | School of Global, Urban and Social Studies


Centre for Urban Research


Emailben.cooke@rmit.edu.au


Phone: +61 39925 9943


Campus: Melbourne City


Programs

More information

Ben is a passionate teacher in environmental studies and sustainability, with a strong research focus on the social and political dimensions of nature conservation.

Overview

Ben's research interests in nature conservation are driven by the idea that conservation is a fundamentally social and political process, where justice and equity for people and ecologies is not achieved by simply creating National Parks, for example. How we do conservation, who is involved and who is excluded are all fundamental questions that need to be addressed.

Ben's teaching interests include environmental planning and management, applied socio-environmental research skills and the history of environmental ideas for sustainability and conservation. Ben particularly enjoys working with final year students in the Bachelor of Environment and Society as they develop their capstone projects.

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Industry experience

Ben has worked with a range of organisations in his teaching and research capacity at RMIT, including Trust for Nature, The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP), The Australian Land Conservation Alliance (ALCA), The Nature Conservancy (TNC), Friends of the Earth (FoE), Land for Wildlife (LfW) and a host of local government and community organisations in Victoria. Ben also co-leads the 'People and Environment' Research Program with the Centre for Urban Research, which has partnered with a number of organisations in the completion of applied socio-environmental research.

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Research

Ben's specific research focuses on a critical examination of nature conservation across a range of contexts. This includes the challenges of fostering and producing nature in cities, the role of private land in protected area conservation, notions of the commons and commoning practices, and justice and equity issues associated with nature and conservation. His current work involves an examination of the rise of private protected area conservation in Australia. Ben is also an editorial board member of the academic journal Australian Geographer.

Research keywords

Private land conservation, Protected areas, Urban greening, Human-environment relationships, More-than-human, Nature, Conservation policy

Research output summary

31

Publications

$432,000

Funding

6

Projects

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Supervisor interest areas

  • Nature conservation policy and practice
  • Rural landscape change
  • Urban greening politics
  • Qualitative research methods
  • Social, policy and cultural dimensions of environmental governance 
  • Neoliberal environmental governance

Supervisor projects

  • An Investigation of Farmer Adaptation under Multiple Social-ecological Stressors in the Special Region of Yogyakarta, Indonesia. PhD Project. Submitted November 2021
  • Breaking the concrete: Reconfiguring urban waterscapes through grassroots initiatives in São Paulo, Brazil. PhD Project. Ongoing.
  • The Leisuring of Peri-Urban Landscapes: The Cultural Politics and Environmental Justice of Golf Course Development in Vietnam. PhD Project. Ongoing

Feature publications

Making Ecologies on Private Land: Conservation Practice in Rural-Amenity Landscapes

Palgrave MacMillan

Benjamin Cooke and Ruth Lane (2020).

The politics of urban greening: an introduction

Australian Geographer 51 (2), 137-153

Benjamin Cooke (2020).

Dwelling in the biosphere: exploring an embodied human–environment connection in resilience thinking

Sustainability Science, 11, 831–843

Benjamin Cooke, Simon West & Wiebren J. Boonstra (2016).

Key publications by year

  • Kirkpatrick, J., Fielder, L. Davison, A. Pearce, L. & Cooke, B. (in press) The role of government in a partial transition from public to private in the expanding Australian protected area system. Conservation and Society.
  • Davison, A., Pearce, L., Cooke, B., Kirkpatrick, J. (in press). From activism to “not-quite-government”: the role of government and non-government actors in the expansion of the Australian protected area system since 1990. Journal of Environmental Planning and Management.
  • Fitzsimons, J. & Cooke, B. (2021). Key questions for conservation tenders as a means for delivering biodiversity benefits on private land. Ecological Management & Restoration. 22 (2), 110-114.
  • Cooke, B. (2020). The politics of urban greening: an introduction. Australian Geographer 51 (2), 137-153.
  • Cooke, B, Landau-Ward, A. & Rickards, L. (2020). Urban greening, property and more-than-human commoning. Australian Geographer 51 (2), 169-188.
  • J Ford, J Ison, L McKenzie, F Cannizzo, LR Mayhew, N Osborne, Cooke, B. (2020). What ongoing staff can do to support precariously employed colleagues. The Australian Universities' Review. 62 (1), 57-62.
  • Cooke, B. & Lane, R. (2020). Making Ecologies on Private Land: Conservation Practice in Rural-Amenity Landscapes. Palgrave McMillian.
  • Moon, K., Adams, VM., Cooke, B. (2019). Shared personal reflections on the need to broaden the scope of conservation social science. People and Nature 1 (4), 426-434.

Peer-reviewed book chapters:

  • Maller, C., Mumaw, L. and Cooke, B. (2019). Health and social benefits of living with ‘wild’ nature. In: (Eds) Pettorelli, N., du Toit, J.T. and Durant, S. Rewilding. Cambridge University Press.
  • Jellinek, S, Wilson, KA, Hagger, V, Mumaw, L, Cooke, B, Guerrero, AM, Erickson, TE, Zamin, T, Waryszak, P, Standish, R. (2018). Integrating diverse social and ecological motivations to achieve landscape restoration. Journal of Applied Ecology.
  • Clements, H., Selinske, M., Archibald, H., Cooke, B., Fitzsimons, J., Groce, J., Torabi, N and Hardy, M., (2018). Fairness and transparency is required for the inclusion of Private Protected Areas in publically accessible conservation databases. Land. 7 (3), 96.
  • Cooke, B. and Lane, R. (2018). Plant-human commoning: Navigating enclosure, neoliberal conservation, and plant mobility in exurban landscapes. Annals of the American Association of Geographers. [Online First]
  • Cooke, B. and Corbo-Perkins, G. (2018). The creative adoption and co-option of market-based instruments for conservation on private land. Land Use Policy. 70, 172-181
  • Prado, J., Puszka, H., Forman, A., Cooke, B. and Fitzsimons, J.A. (2018). Trends and values of 'Land for Wildlife' programs in private land conservation. Ecological Management and Restoration. 19 (2), 136-146.

Reports and other publications:

  • Cooke, B. and King, T. (2018). Just and fair urban greening? Chain Reaction: The National Magazine of Friends of the Earth Australia.
  • Cooke, B. (2018). Book Review: Green gentrification: urban sustainability and the struggle for environmental justice Kenneth A. Gould and Tammy L. Lewis Abingdon, Routledge, 2017. Australian Journal of Environmental Education.
  • Bosomworth, K., Cooke, B. and Coffey, B. (2017). Uncertain landscapes and regional futures: considering the implications for place, participation and NRM policy under climate change. Australasian Journal of Regional Studies. 23 (3), 344-357.
  • Selinske, M., Cooke, B., Torabi, N., Hardy, M., Knight, A. & Bekessy, S. (2017). Locating financial incentives amongst diverse motivations for long-term private land conservation. Ecology and Society. 22(2), 7.

Peer-reviewed book chapters:

  • Cooke, B. (2017). The co-presence of past and future in the environmental management practices of rural-amenity migrants. In: (Eds) Head, L., Saltzman, K., Setten, G. & Stenseke, M. Nature, Time and Environmental Management: Scandinavian and Australian perspectives on peoples and landscapes. Routledge.

Reports and other publications:

  • Cooke, B. and Moon, K. (2017). Re-engaging with the ethic of environmental stewardship to guide conservation funding for private land. The Power to Persuade.
  • Cooke, B., West, S. & Boonstra, W.J. (2016). Dwelling in the biosphere: exploring an embodied human–environment connection in resilience thinking. Sustainability Science. 11(5), 831-843.
  • Torabi, N., Cooke, B. & Bekessy, S. (2016). The role of social networks and trusted peers in promoting biodiverse carbon plantings. Australian Geographer. 47(2), 139-156.

Peer-reviewed book chapters:

  • Cooke, B. and Coffey, B. (2016). Why ‘green cities’ need to become a deeply lived experience. The Conversation.
  • Cooke, B. (2016). What next? Landholder perceptions of private land conservation at the conclusion of an EcoTender contract. Report for The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning.
  • Cooke, B. and Lane, R. (2015a). How do amenity migrants learn to be environmental stewards of rural landscapes? Landscape and Urban Planning. 134, 43-52.
  • Cooke, B. and Lane, R. (2015b). Re-thinking rural-amenity ecologies for environmental management in the Anthropocene. Geoforum. 65. 232-242.
  • Cooke, B. and Moon, K. (2015). Aligning public good environmental stewardship with the landscape-scale: adapting MBIs for private land conservation policy. Ecological Economics, 114, 152-158.
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Feature projects

Owning nature: mapping the contested country of private protected areas

ARC Discovery Project ($338,000)

Aidan Davison, Benjamin Cooke, Lilian Pearce, Jamie Kirkpatrick, Florence Damiens

2018 - 2022

Policy Roadmap for the Australian Land Conservation Alliance (ALCA)

Contract Research (14,800) 

Benjamin Cooke, Lilian Pearce, Oli Moraes

2021-2022

Key projects by year

  • Policy Roadmap for the Australian Land Conservation Alliance (ALCA)
    Benjamin Cooke, Lilian Pearce, Oli Moraes
    Contract Research - ALCA (14,800)
    2021-2022
  • Phillip Island Nature Parks Research Project Evaluating interactions of beachgoers and their dogs with local wildlife
    Contract Research ($9.000)
    Benjamin Cooke, Cecily Maller, Helen Corney, Tyler King
    2019-2021
  • Owning nature: mapping the contested country of private protected areas.
    ARC Discovery Project ($338,000)
    Aidan Davison, Benjamin Cooke, Lilian Pearce, Jamie Kirkpatrick, Florence Damiens
    2018-2022
  • Strategies towards integrating urban Edible City Solutions for socially resilient and sustainably productive cities in Europe (EdiCitNet) (administered by Technische Universitaet Berlin)
    Horizon 2020 European Commission. ($50,000)
    Ferne Edwards, Lauren Rickards, Jago Dodson, Benjamin Cooke
    2018-2023
  • Examining the role of market-based instruments in the delivery of private land conservation
    Contract Research - Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) ($8,000)
    Benjamin Cooke
    2018
  • RMIT Enabling Capability Fund: Redefining community engagement with urban biodiversity: new research and assessment methods.
    RMIT ECP funded: ($6,200) 
    Benjamin Cooke, Laura Mumaw
    2017
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Awards

RMIT Award for Excellence - Early Career Teaching category ($3,000 prize)

Award date: 2017

Recipients: Benjamin Cooke

Early Career Research Achievement Award - School of Global, Urban and Social Studies

Award date: 2018

Recipients: Benjamin Cooke

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Public and media engagements

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Acknowledgement of country

RMIT University acknowledges the people of the Woi wurrung and Boon wurrung language groups of the eastern Kulin Nation on whose unceded lands we conduct the business of the University. RMIT University respectfully acknowledges their Ancestors and Elders, past and present. RMIT also acknowledges the Traditional Custodians and their Ancestors of the lands and waters across Australia where we conduct our business - Artwork 'Luwaytini' by Mark Cleaver, Palawa.

aboriginal flag
torres strait flag

Acknowledgement of country

RMIT University acknowledges the people of the Woi wurrung and Boon wurrung language groups of the eastern Kulin Nation on whose unceded lands we conduct the business of the University. RMIT University respectfully acknowledges their Ancestors and Elders, past and present. RMIT also acknowledges the Traditional Custodians and their Ancestors of the lands and waters across Australia where we conduct our business.