Skip to main content

Cook, Nicole Dr

Lecturer

  • School of Geography and Sustainable Communities
  • Faculty of Social Sciences

Overview


I am an urban geographer researching the capacities of communities, residents, business and government to foster socio-ecological innovation in cities. I also specialise in qualitative housing research, focusing on the economic, cultural and political dimensions of owner-occupation. In 2016, I co-edited the Routledge collection: Housing and Home Unbound: intersections in economics, environment and politics in Australia.

Top Publications


Research Overview


  • Urban Geography, Social Movements, Planning, Housing/Home, Post-structural Theories

    My cross-disciplinary research in the field of urban geography, planning and housing reveals the potential of diverse actors and agents to create sustainable and equitable cities and spaces. While this work is grounded in the context of contemporary market societies, my work is fundamentally concerned with charting opportunities for social justice. My two core research themes can be summed up as follows.

    i) Urban restructuring, urban governance and public participation. Focusing on planning policy, urban governance, community activism and public participation, my research examines the nature and boundary of urban social justice in cities. Research outputs on this theme are advancing a new understanding of the city based on emergence and innovation within urban systems. Broadly grouped under the rubric of assemblage, this work bridges the gap between theories of social movements and political philosophies of emergence and becoming.

    ii) The economy and culture of housing and home. I have also examined home-ownership, attachment to home and housing wealth in the context of deregulated mortgage markets and house price appreciation in the United Kingdom and Australia. The outputs of this research —which lie at the interface of the culture and economy of housing and home—bring an in-depth understanding of the emotional, practical and financial values home-owners attach to consumer (and other) goods and services purchased by borrowing against the home. By integrating financial and social elements of home, this work provides new insights into the geographies of home and housing wealth; as well as broader neighbhourhood dynamics in diverse cities. I am currently examining the ways that owner-occupiers' attachments to home shape the densification frontier in Australian cities.

    I have also co-edited the Routledge text Housing and Home Unbound that explores the political, economic and environmental context of human dwelling in Australia. The book explores the socio-material dimensions of housing through an analysis of the unique political and economic context of Australian housing and attachments to home, including its colonial, market-based and welfare traditions.

Available as Research Supervisor

Selected Publications


Available as Research Supervisor

Potential Supervision Topics


  • Social movements and social and/or environmental justice 
    -What is unique about direct action?
    -Materiality and social movements
    -The nexus between social movements and policy innovation

    Housing and home
    -Strategic planning, housing and participation
    -Cultural dimensions of home
    -Housing wealth and debt

    Cities, urban restructuring, social and economic change
    -Power and politics in urban development and planning processes
    -Green cities (planning/transport/food) and social justice
    -Financial dimensions of low-carbon cities


    External Supervision to:

    Thea Hewitt, University of Melbourne

Advisees


  • Graduate Advising Relationship

    Degree Research Title Advisee
    Doctor of Philosophy From experimentations to collaborative governance: The role and implications of experimentations in shaping Australian smart cities Santala, Ville

Outreach Overview


  • Through a range of collaborative projects I have facilitated relationships within the university setting (locally and nationally), funding bodies, community, media and research participants. Key relationships and projects are as follows.

    1 .   The Institute of Australian Geographers and Urban Geography Study Group. From 2012-2016  I was co-convenor of the Urban Geography Study Group of the Institution of Australian Geographers (IAG). During this time, we were successful in securing funding in with the Australian Cities Research Network, for a new annual research forum The Urban Theory Symposium, to be held each year in April commencing in 2016 in Sydney.

     2.     Government and industry stakeholder groups in housing and planning. This includes workshops funded by the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute with The Property Council of Australia, Places Victoria, The Premiers’ Department (VIC), and Department of Planning and Community Development (VIC). In 2012, at the conclusion of the AHURI project, the team were congratulated for advancing stakeholder consultation in the development and delivery of urban and housing based research in Australia. The project Shading Liveable Cities, progressed through engagement with Western Melbourne Councils, Melbourne Water, the Department of Local Government Planning and Infrastructure, and a range of community greening groups. We also adopted this approach in the Shading Liveable Cities project held at Melbourne University in 2014.

     3.     Community radio, blogs and public presentations. I have participated in public debate through community radio interviews (RRR’s The Urbanists in Melbourne), the media outlet ‘The Conversation’, podcasts such as ‘SoundMinds’ and in local government workshops for the Victorian Local Governance Association (2013), the Victorian Spatial Summit (2014) and Western Sydney University’s “Public Lecture on Citizen Participation in Planning: New Challenges and Opportunities” (2016).

Reviewer Of


Teaching Overview


    • Subject Co-Ordinator, Human Geography: Life in a Globalising World (1st year Geography)
    • Subject Co-ordinator ,The Future of Food (2nd Year Geography)
    • Subject Co-ordinator Social Science Research Internship (2nd and 3rd Year Geography)
    • Guest Lecturer, Sustainable Cities (2nd Year Geography)

    My teaching focuses on four key areas.

    1. Situating contemporary rural, regional and urban problems in their wider economic context. My subjects situate a wide range of spaces and landuses in relation to Keynesian political-economic frameworks, the rise of neoliberalism and in relation to urban processes of gentrification, studentification and globalisation. In environmental subjects, I have explored the nexus between rural and urban economics, political economy and ecological systems. Theories of socio-ecological assemblage further encourage students to explore complex human and non-humans alliances in disruptive events. In developing-nation contexts, my teaching shows how declining economic opportunities in subsistence agriculture along with the ‘globalisation of the countryside’ places pressure on urban systems in fulfilling urban settlement demands. Even in contributing to informal settlement, these precincts becomes a key labour supplier for mainstream economies, blurring clear boundaries between formality and informality in urban systems. The social and economic drivers underpinning transport and fossil fuel dependency in the post WWII period, and in relation to a rising middle class in Asia and India, and subsequent patterns of vulnerability have also been developed as core themes.

    2. Interrogating the uneven position of cities and suburbs within contexts of globalisation and neoliberalism. In undergraduate courses my subjects develop an account of cities in global competition for high-income or wealthy residents, tourists, and investment. While recognising the uneven impacts of globalisation, particularly in terms of social differentiation and inequality, my teaching does not position city futures as inevitably neoliberalist. Rather, it charts the potential for innovation and variation that may unsettle or challenge the inequities of global capitalism. While attendant to the processes of gentrification, revanchism, and austerity that characterise many contemporary cities, my subjects explore the diverse economies that characterise urban life, including examples of housing and urban policy innovation and social movement activism in responding to and adapting to social and ecological uncertainties.

    3. Situating communities in relation to resilience and social justice. Recognising the deliberative turn in social research, my teaching engages with multiple aspects of community engagement in cities and urban planning. It also offers a critical account of community development, highlighting the potential for discourses of resilience and community empowerment to be incorporated into the revitalisation of colonial and capitalist legacies. In relation to planning theory more broadly, my teaching situates community planning at the intersection of welfare state failure, the rise of identity politics and the post-rational critique of planning as a ‘top down process’.

    4. Cities of diversity and social inclusion. Themes of disadvantage and inclusivity are explored through distributive paradigms of social justice. Matters of gender, race, sexuality, health and (dis)ability are equally significant axes of differentiation in cities leading to the study of frameworks of recognition (and the politics of identity). This includes inviting students to engage with cities from the perspective of the stranger or the outsider  and to interrogate changing policy frameworks from assimilation to multiculturalism to the emergent interest in encounter. Recognising the intimate turn in social urban research, students are encouraged to interrogate the affects generated through routine and everyday encounters with difference.

Top Publications


Research Overview


  • Urban Geography, Social Movements, Planning, Housing/Home, Post-structural Theories

    My cross-disciplinary research in the field of urban geography, planning and housing reveals the potential of diverse actors and agents to create sustainable and equitable cities and spaces. While this work is grounded in the context of contemporary market societies, my work is fundamentally concerned with charting opportunities for social justice. My two core research themes can be summed up as follows.

    i) Urban restructuring, urban governance and public participation. Focusing on planning policy, urban governance, community activism and public participation, my research examines the nature and boundary of urban social justice in cities. Research outputs on this theme are advancing a new understanding of the city based on emergence and innovation within urban systems. Broadly grouped under the rubric of assemblage, this work bridges the gap between theories of social movements and political philosophies of emergence and becoming.

    ii) The economy and culture of housing and home. I have also examined home-ownership, attachment to home and housing wealth in the context of deregulated mortgage markets and house price appreciation in the United Kingdom and Australia. The outputs of this research —which lie at the interface of the culture and economy of housing and home—bring an in-depth understanding of the emotional, practical and financial values home-owners attach to consumer (and other) goods and services purchased by borrowing against the home. By integrating financial and social elements of home, this work provides new insights into the geographies of home and housing wealth; as well as broader neighbhourhood dynamics in diverse cities. I am currently examining the ways that owner-occupiers' attachments to home shape the densification frontier in Australian cities.

    I have also co-edited the Routledge text Housing and Home Unbound that explores the political, economic and environmental context of human dwelling in Australia. The book explores the socio-material dimensions of housing through an analysis of the unique political and economic context of Australian housing and attachments to home, including its colonial, market-based and welfare traditions.

Selected Publications


Potential Supervision Topics


  • Social movements and social and/or environmental justice 
    -What is unique about direct action?
    -Materiality and social movements
    -The nexus between social movements and policy innovation

    Housing and home
    -Strategic planning, housing and participation
    -Cultural dimensions of home
    -Housing wealth and debt

    Cities, urban restructuring, social and economic change
    -Power and politics in urban development and planning processes
    -Green cities (planning/transport/food) and social justice
    -Financial dimensions of low-carbon cities


    External Supervision to:

    Thea Hewitt, University of Melbourne

Advisees


  • Graduate Advising Relationship

    Degree Research Title Advisee
    Doctor of Philosophy From experimentations to collaborative governance: The role and implications of experimentations in shaping Australian smart cities Santala, Ville

Outreach Overview


  • Through a range of collaborative projects I have facilitated relationships within the university setting (locally and nationally), funding bodies, community, media and research participants. Key relationships and projects are as follows.

    1 .   The Institute of Australian Geographers and Urban Geography Study Group. From 2012-2016  I was co-convenor of the Urban Geography Study Group of the Institution of Australian Geographers (IAG). During this time, we were successful in securing funding in with the Australian Cities Research Network, for a new annual research forum The Urban Theory Symposium, to be held each year in April commencing in 2016 in Sydney.

     2.     Government and industry stakeholder groups in housing and planning. This includes workshops funded by the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute with The Property Council of Australia, Places Victoria, The Premiers’ Department (VIC), and Department of Planning and Community Development (VIC). In 2012, at the conclusion of the AHURI project, the team were congratulated for advancing stakeholder consultation in the development and delivery of urban and housing based research in Australia. The project Shading Liveable Cities, progressed through engagement with Western Melbourne Councils, Melbourne Water, the Department of Local Government Planning and Infrastructure, and a range of community greening groups. We also adopted this approach in the Shading Liveable Cities project held at Melbourne University in 2014.

     3.     Community radio, blogs and public presentations. I have participated in public debate through community radio interviews (RRR’s The Urbanists in Melbourne), the media outlet ‘The Conversation’, podcasts such as ‘SoundMinds’ and in local government workshops for the Victorian Local Governance Association (2013), the Victorian Spatial Summit (2014) and Western Sydney University’s “Public Lecture on Citizen Participation in Planning: New Challenges and Opportunities” (2016).

Reviewer Of


Teaching Overview


    • Subject Co-Ordinator, Human Geography: Life in a Globalising World (1st year Geography)
    • Subject Co-ordinator ,The Future of Food (2nd Year Geography)
    • Subject Co-ordinator Social Science Research Internship (2nd and 3rd Year Geography)
    • Guest Lecturer, Sustainable Cities (2nd Year Geography)

    My teaching focuses on four key areas.

    1. Situating contemporary rural, regional and urban problems in their wider economic context. My subjects situate a wide range of spaces and landuses in relation to Keynesian political-economic frameworks, the rise of neoliberalism and in relation to urban processes of gentrification, studentification and globalisation. In environmental subjects, I have explored the nexus between rural and urban economics, political economy and ecological systems. Theories of socio-ecological assemblage further encourage students to explore complex human and non-humans alliances in disruptive events. In developing-nation contexts, my teaching shows how declining economic opportunities in subsistence agriculture along with the ‘globalisation of the countryside’ places pressure on urban systems in fulfilling urban settlement demands. Even in contributing to informal settlement, these precincts becomes a key labour supplier for mainstream economies, blurring clear boundaries between formality and informality in urban systems. The social and economic drivers underpinning transport and fossil fuel dependency in the post WWII period, and in relation to a rising middle class in Asia and India, and subsequent patterns of vulnerability have also been developed as core themes.

    2. Interrogating the uneven position of cities and suburbs within contexts of globalisation and neoliberalism. In undergraduate courses my subjects develop an account of cities in global competition for high-income or wealthy residents, tourists, and investment. While recognising the uneven impacts of globalisation, particularly in terms of social differentiation and inequality, my teaching does not position city futures as inevitably neoliberalist. Rather, it charts the potential for innovation and variation that may unsettle or challenge the inequities of global capitalism. While attendant to the processes of gentrification, revanchism, and austerity that characterise many contemporary cities, my subjects explore the diverse economies that characterise urban life, including examples of housing and urban policy innovation and social movement activism in responding to and adapting to social and ecological uncertainties.

    3. Situating communities in relation to resilience and social justice. Recognising the deliberative turn in social research, my teaching engages with multiple aspects of community engagement in cities and urban planning. It also offers a critical account of community development, highlighting the potential for discourses of resilience and community empowerment to be incorporated into the revitalisation of colonial and capitalist legacies. In relation to planning theory more broadly, my teaching situates community planning at the intersection of welfare state failure, the rise of identity politics and the post-rational critique of planning as a ‘top down process’.

    4. Cities of diversity and social inclusion. Themes of disadvantage and inclusivity are explored through distributive paradigms of social justice. Matters of gender, race, sexuality, health and (dis)ability are equally significant axes of differentiation in cities leading to the study of frameworks of recognition (and the politics of identity). This includes inviting students to engage with cities from the perspective of the stranger or the outsider  and to interrogate changing policy frameworks from assimilation to multiculturalism to the emergent interest in encounter. Recognising the intimate turn in social urban research, students are encouraged to interrogate the affects generated through routine and everyday encounters with difference.

uri icon

Geographic Focus