Professor Andrea Gaynor

Started at UWA: 2002

Driving a more sustainable future by harnessing environmental history

Historical knowledge and stories about the relationships between people and environments can have a range of impacts, from informing policy to inspiring and empowering communities working for positive change. Professor Andrea Gaynor

Professor Andrea Gaynor is an environmental historian who provides essential context and knowledge for understanding the causes and complexities of some of the most pressing issues facing society today.

From her teenage years, Professor Gaynor found herself deeply concerned about the environment. Although originally intending to study science, she realised that 'environmental problems' were largely human problems and their resolution lay in understanding society.

Professor Gaynor instead applied to study a Bachelor of Arts and found history to be an excellent medium for understanding and narrating environmental issues. Her ongoing research and activism critically investigate environmental problems through the lens of history, including fish and fishing, tree decline, urban animals, agriculture, conservation, renewable energy, gardening, environmental campaigns, and urban water systems.


  • Bachelor of Arts (Honours), UWA
  • PhD, UWA

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Vice-President of the European Society for Environmental History, 2019 onwards

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Steering committee member of The Beeliar Group: Professors for Environmental Responsibility, 2017 onwards

Carson Fellow at the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society, LMU Munich, 2015

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Faculty of Arts Excellence in Teaching Award: High Commendation for Individual Teaching, 2013

Looking to the past for a better future




ARC Discovery

‘The economic and social contribution of the Western Australian CME sector’
Andrea Gaynor; David Gilchrist; Tim Mazzarol; Amin Mugera; Geoff Soutar; Peter Wells


ARC Discovery

‘Histories of recovery and adaptation in the Australian Anthropocene’
Andrea Gaynor


ARC Discovery

‘Wild cities: an environmental history of urban nature in Australia’
Andrea Gaynor

Featured projects

Professor Gaynor's research involves collaborating on projects dealing with environmental history and Australian history, including:

Wild cities: an environmental history of nature in urban modernity: This project aims to understand relationships between people and nature in modern cities through their history. By providing insights into the drivers of urban residents’ everyday relationships with nature from 1880-2015 and engaging the public through historical narratives, the research will inform current urban greening, conservation and restoration projects and policy.

Recovery and adaptation in the Australian Anthropocene: In this project, Professor Gaynor is collaborating with postdoctoral scholar Dr Cameron Muir to investigate how vulnerable communities cope and adapt when faced with multiple environmental challenges in the Anthropocene.

The economic and social contribution of the Western Australian cooperative and mutual enterprise sector: This project, led by Professor Tim Mazzarol, examines how cooperative and mutual enterprises have navigated the changing social, economic, and legal contexts from the mid-nineteenth to the early twenty-first centuries, to deliver benefits to members and local communities, and more generally contribute to the state's social and economic development.

Water and the making of urban Australia since 1900: This project aims to produce new understandings of both the historical drivers of today’s urban water systems, and how these systems have historically impacted on human and ecological welfare.


Aerial view of Suburb


Professor Gaynor’s unique teaching style revolves around interactive workshops, where historical questions and interpretations are discussed collaboratively while interrogating a wide range of original historical sources.

Having worked at UWA since 2002, Professor Gaynor’s enduring highlight is watching her students go on to live purposeful lives and achieve great things in their chosen endeavour. She’s continually energised by students’ curiosity and their diverse perspectives and interpretations.

Professor Gaynor teaches the following units:

Andrea Gaynor 

Supervisor opportunities

Since 2002, Professor Gaynor has supervised projects and research topics in areas including:

  • Urban and regional environmental history
  • Colonial settlement and frontier conflict
  • Western Australian environmental history
  • Migration and belonging in Australian history
  • Australian women’s and labour history
Professor Gaynor invites prospective postgraduate students to discuss supervision opportunities with her surrounding interests in environmental history.


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Contact Professor Andrea Gaynor