Dr Vanessa Bowden

Dr Vanessa Bowden

Associate Lecturer

Centre for English Language and Foundation Studies

Career Summary


Sociologist Dr Vanessa Bowden investigates the interface between our understandings of the environment with science, policy and social justice. While we might often think of environmental issues as directed by scientific understandings, issues such as climate change reveal the complexities around our trust in science, politics and concern for the economy. Understanding the ways in which these issues intersect is a key focus of Dr Bowden’s research.

“Many of the assumptions we’ve had about science and knowledge as continually improving and guiding our social practices are not borne out in reality” says Dr Bowden. “Climate change is one example of that, but so are some of the discussions we have around health, and immunisation, for instance. This is not necessarily a bad thing – in many cases it might be an indication of an increasingly engaged and critical public – however, there are always a range of interests involved in such debates. My work is about bringing an analysis of how power operates within these debates.”

Dr Bowden’s research has explored the ways in which business leaders in the Hunter region of NSW – home to the world’s largest coal port – have responded to climate change. The research shows that the debates over the science of climate change, especially confusion around the severity and timing of impacts, creates a space in which the prominent coal industry is able to mobilise significant power. In this context, the research gives some insight into barriers to climate mitigation policies, such as putting a price on carbon or implementing renewable energy targets.

Dr Bowden is currently undertaking a new research project on the impact of ‘post-truth’ politics on scientific practice, where she will further explore how these broader public debates impact on research and teaching within different scientific fields such as medicine and the environment.


  • Doctor of Philosophy, University of Newcastle
  • Bachelor of Arts, University of Newcastle
  • Bachelor of Arts (Honours), University of Newcastle


  • Australian Politics
  • Beck
  • Climate Change
  • Environmental Sociology
  • Reflexive Modernisation
  • Risk Society
  • Social Theory
  • Sociology

Fields of Research

Code Description Percentage
160899 Sociology not elsewhere classified 100

Professional Experience

UON Appointment

Title Organisation / Department
Associate Lecturer University of Newcastle
Centre for English Language and Foundation Studies
Casual Academic University of Newcastle
School of Humanities and Social Science


For publications that are currently unpublished or in-press, details are shown in italics.

Journal article (8 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
2017 Bowden VM, ''Life. Brought to you by' ...coal? Business responses to climate change in the Hunter Valley, NSW, Australia', Environmental Sociology, (2017)
2017 Kirby E, Broom A, Good P, Bowden V, Lwin Z, 'Experiences of interpreters in supporting the transition from oncology to palliative care: A qualitative study', Asia-Pacific Journal of Clinical Oncology, 13 e497-e505 (2017)
DOI 10.1111/ajco.12563
2017 Broom J, Broom A, Bowden V, 'Ebola outbreak preparedness planning: a qualitative study of clinicians' experiences', Public Health, 143 103-108 (2017)
DOI 10.1016/j.puhe.2016.11.008
2017 Broom A, Kenny K, Bowden V, Muppavaram N, Chittem M, 'Cultural ontologies of cancer in India', Critical Public Health, 1-11 (2017)
DOI 10.1080/09581596.2017.1288288
2017 Broom A, Chittem M, Bowden V, Muppavaram N, Rajappa S, 'Illness Experiences, Collective Decisions, and the Therapeutic Encounter in Indian Oncology', Qualitative Health Research, 27 951-963 (2017)
DOI 10.1177/1049732316648125
2016 Leahy TS, Bowden V, 'Don't Shoot the Messenger: How Business Leaders Get Their Bearings on a Matter of Science', Journal of Sociology, 52 .219-234 (2016) [C1]
DOI 10.1177/1440783313518245
Co-authors Terry Leahy
2016 Pamela S, Alex B, Vanessa B, Jon A, Nelson Filice de B, 'Attitudes toward complementary and alternative medicine amongst oncology professionals in Brazil', Complementary Therapies in Medicine, 27 30-34 (2016)
DOI 10.1016/j.ctim.2016.04.003
2010 Leahy TS, Bowden VM, Threadgold SR, 'Stumbling towards collapse: Coming to terms with the climate crisis', Environmental Politics, 19 851-868 (2010) [C1]
DOI 10.1080/09644016.2010.518676
Citations Scopus - 21Web of Science - 15
Co-authors Steven Threadgold, Terry Leahy
Show 5 more journal articles

Conference (2 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
2011 Bowden VM, 'Prospects for an ecological modernisation approach to climate change - Analysing the views of business leaders in the Hunter Region', Australian Sociological Association (TASA) Conference: Local Lives/Global Networks, Newcastle, NSW (2011) [E3]
2009 Bowden VM, 'Fractions in a coal dependent region: How business people in the Hunter are responding to climate change', The Future of Sociology, Canberra, ACT (2009) [E1]

Dr Vanessa Bowden


Associate Lecturer
Centre for English Language and Foundation Studies
Academic Division

Casual Academic
School of Humanities and Social Science
Faculty of Education and Arts

Contact Details

Email vanessa.bowden@newcastle.edu.au
Phone (02) 4968 6726


Room HO 1.70
Building Humanities Building
Location Ourimbah
10 Chittaway Road
Ourimbah, NSW 2258