Associate 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. Associate Professor Andrea Gaynor

Associate Professor Andrea Gaynor is the Director of the Centre for Western Australian History within the School of Humanities. As an environmental historian, she 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, Associate 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.

Associate 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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Web and newsletter manager of the Australian and New Zealand Environmental History Network, 2017 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

  • ‘Water and the making of urban Australia since 1900’
  • Andrea Gaynor; Lionel Frost; Jenny Gregory; Ruth Morgan; Martin Shanahan; Peter Spearritt


ARC Discovery

  • ‘Changing landscapes, changing people: Australia's Southern Mallee Lands, 1830 – 2012’
  • Katie Holmes, Richard Broome, Andrea Gaynor, Charles Fahey, Ruth Ford


CRC for Water Sensitive Cities

  • ‘Understanding social processes to achieve water sensitive futures’
  • Jo Lindsay, Seamus O’Hanlon, Lionel Frost, Andrea Gaynor, Jenny Gregory, Peter Spearritt, Meredith Dobbie, Kelly Fielding

Featured projects

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

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.

The environmental history of Australia’s Southern Mallee country: an inquiry into how Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians from 1830 to the present have created and responded to changes in nature in the Mallee regions of southern Australia.

Reclaiming the Urban Commons: the past, present and future of food growing in Australian towns and cities, a book project with Nick Rose of Sustain: The Australian Food Network.

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.


Aerial view of Suburb


Associate 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, Associate 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.

Associate Professor Gaynor teaches the following units:

Andrea Gaynor 

Supervisor opportunities

Since 2002, Associate 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
Associate Professor Gaynor invites prospective postgraduate students to discuss supervision opportunities with her surrounding interests in histories of environment and place, Australian social and labour history, modern urban history or water history.


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Contact Associate Professor Andrea Gaynor