PhD Scholarship (Innovating Urban Governance and COVID-19)
School of Geography and Sustainable Communities

Australian Centre for Culture, Environment, Society and Space 

The University of Wollongong


Innovating urban governance and COVID-19

UOW is offering a PhD Scholarship on urban governance innovation in response to COVID-19, associated with Australian Research Council Discovery Project DP200100176  (CIs Pauline McGuirk, Robyn Dowling, Sophia Maalsen, Tom Baker and post-doctoral research fellow Alistair Sisson).


The wider ARC Discovery project focuses on the growing expectations on urban governance as cities and the challenges they face become more complex. Innovation has proliferated in how and by whom cities are governed. There are new roles for the government, business, civic and university sectors; new practices like hacking, co-producing and prototyping; new means of financing; and new styles of collaborative practice. Little is known about the governance capacities produced by these new governing mechanisms and practices, their effectiveness, inclusiveness and legitimacy, or their ultimate benefit to future cities.


The PhD project will focus on urban governance innovation in relation to COVID-19 and will complement and extend the wider project. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced or inspired numerous innovations in urban governance, as cities have addressed the pandemic and its aftermath. As such, the project focus may include (but is not limited to) governance innovation in domains such as public space, mobility, social inclusion, housing and homelessness.


The PhD scholar will be expected to develop and carry out a project that supports the aims of the ARC project to build new theoretical and empirical understandings of the actors, practices and processes involved in advancing urban governance innovations, their possibilities and limits. The project specifically seeks to build new knowledge to inform urban governance innovation for the Australian context and enhanced capacity to facilitate the future prosperity, wellbeing and democratic inclusiveness of Australian cities. It is expected that the successful candidate will have some background in urban scholarship and critical qualitative research methodologies


This is an exciting opportunity to undertake cutting edge research into the opportunities, challenges and tensions involved in contemporary transformations in urban governance in the name of innovation.


The project will be supervised by Prof Pauline McGuirk in the School of Geography and Sustainable Communities and ACCESS (the Australian Centre for Culture, Environment, Society and Space). The PhD candidate will be supported through the active research programs of ACCESS (, and have the opportunity to interact with the project team members at the University of Sydney (Dowling and Maalsen) and University of Auckland (Baker).


Scholarship Value

The successful candidate will receive a stipend of $28, 597 (2021 rate) per year which will be indexed annually for the duration of the award.  


Entry Requirements

To be eligible, a student must have completed a Bachelor Degree in human geography, urban studies or a related discipline with First Class Honours, or be regarded by UOW as having an equivalent level of attainment; and intend on undertaking a full-time higher degree by research by mid 2021.



The PhD is open to domestic students only.


Application process

Applicants should submit:

to Professor Pauline McGuirk (




Deadline for applications: Friday May 7th.

Informal inquiries about the research can be directed to Prof Pauline McGuirk (


Professor Pauline McGuirk FASSA

DIRECTOR,  Australian Centre for Culture, Environment, Society and Space

Head of Research, School of Geography and Sustainable Communities

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I acknowledge the Aboriginal custodians of the land in the region where I live and work, the Ilouri, Wadi Wadi and Dharawal peoples. I acknowledge the Elders, past, present and future, and Country itself.



University of Wollongong CRICOS: 00102E

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