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academic profile - eminent professor richard bawden


Richard Bawden’s concerns with sustainability started back in the 1950s. As an undergraduate student of agricultural science at the University of London, he recognised that the push for the intensification of farming through science-based technologies to ensure food security for the British people. His subsequent career has illustrated an undiminished quest for seeking sustainable strategies to accommodate the systemic tensions created by the different demands of ecological, economic and ethical ends for ‘agri-food systems’ and beyond.

His career has been particularly marked by leadership positions. It has included a two-year development project with the UN (FAO) in Uruguay, two University Faculty Deanships/Head of School positions in Australia, appointment as the foundation professor of Systemic Development at the (then) University of Western Sydney, the Director of the Centre for Systemic Development at UWS and a Distinguished University Professorship at Michigan State University.

His appointment to the Order of Australia (General Division) in 2000 was in recognition of his services to systemic development both at home and overseas. He was appointed Professor Emeritus by the University of Western Sydney in 1999.


  • PhD – School of Veterinary Science, University of Queensland (1966)
  • B.Sc. (Agric) (Hons) – University of London (1961)

Contact details

T: 61 (0)401582 219

Areas of expertise

  • Systemic development
  • Sustainability
  • Education for systemic transformation
  • Academic leadership

List of research publications


  • Fear, F.A., Rosaen, C.L., Bawden, R. J., & Foster-Fishman, P.G. (2006). Coming to Critical Engagement: An auto ethnographic exploration. New York: University Press of America.

Book chapters

  • Bawden, R. J. (2017). Global Change and its Consequences for the World’s Arid Lands. In Global Change and Its Consequences for the World’s Arid Lands
  • Bawden, R. J., & Williams, M. (2016). The Learning Conference and Worldview Transformations. In O. Zuber-Skerritt (Ed.) Conferences as Sites of Learning and Development: Using Participatory Action Learning and Action Research Approaches . London: Routledge.
  • Bawden, R. J. (2015). Researching Plausible Futures: Managing the process. InKearney & M. Todhunter (Eds.) Lifelong Action Learning and Research: A Tribute to the Life and Pioneering Work of Ortrun Zuber-Skerritt (Ed.) Conferences as Sites of Learning and Development: Using Participatory Action Learning and Action Research Approaches (pp. 74-85). London: Routledge.
  • Bawden, R. J. (2012). How Should We Farm? The ethical dimension of farming systems. In Darnhofer, D. Gibbon, B. Dedieu, & R. Benoît (Eds.) Farming Systems Research into the 21st Century: The New Dynamic Springer Science+Business Media: Dordrecht.
  • Bawden, R. J. (2011). Systemic Action Research, Turbulence and Emergence. In O. Zuber-Skerritt (Ed.). Action Research for Sustainable Development in a Turbulent World (pp. 45-68). London: Emerald Press.
  • Bawden, R. J., & Saito, O. (2010). Ecology, Sustainability and Knowing Systems. In M. Osaki, A. Braimoh, & K. Nakagami (Eds.) Designing our Future: Local Perspectives on Bio-production, Ecosystems and Humanity (pp 328-345), Tokyo: United Nations University Press.
  • Bawden, R. J. (2010). Social Ecologies in Conflict: The Clash of Epistemes and the Challenge of the Modern. In D. Wright, C. Camden-Pratt & S. Hill (Eds.) Social Ecology: Applying ecological understanding to our lives and our planet (pp. 52-63). Stroud: Hawthorn Press.
  • Bawden, R. J. (2010). Sustainability Ethics: A Systems Perspective. In E. Selinger, R. Raffelle & W. Robinson (Eds.) Sustainability Ethics (pp. 21-51). New York: Automatic/VIP Press.
  • Bawden, R. J. (2010). Messy Issues, Worldviews and Systemic Competencies. In C. P. Blackmore (Ed.) Social learning systems and communities of practice. (pp. 89-102), Springer: London.
  • Bawden, R. J., & Reichenbach, M. (2010). Learning by Experiencing: Systemics, Futures Thinking and Scenarios. In O. Ukaga, C. Maser & M. Reichenbach (Eds.) Sustainable development: Principles, Frameworks and Case Studies (pp. 95-115). Baco Raton: CRC Press.
  • Bawden, R. J. (2008). Farm Animal Welfare: A systemic challenge. In P. B. Thompson (Ed.) The Ethics of Intensification (pp. 199-204). Dortmund: Springer Science.
  • Bawden, R. J. (2008). The Educative Purpose of Higher Education for Human and Social development in the Context of Globalization. In P. Taylor (Ed.) Higher Education in the World: New Challenges and Emerging Roles for Human and Social Development (pp. 65-73). London: Global University Network for Innovation (GUNI) Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Bawden, R. J. (2007). Knowing Systems and the Environment. In J. Pretty, A. Ball, T. Benton, J. Guivant, D. Lee, D. Orr, M. Pfeffer & H. Ward. (Eds.) Sage Handbook on Environment and Society (pp. 224-234). London: Sage Publications.
  • Bawden, R. J. (2007). Redesigning Animal Agriculture: A systemic perspective. In D.Swain, E. Charmley, J. Steel & S. Coffey (Eds.) Redesigning Animal Agriculture (pp. 1-17). London: CAB International.
  • Bawden, R. J., Woodhill, J., & Guijt, I. (2007). The Critical Role of Civil Society in Fostering Social Learning for a Sustainable World. In A. J. Wals (Ed.) Social Learning toward a more Sustainable World: Principles, Perspectives, and Praxis (pp. 133-148). The Netherlands:Wageningen University Press.
  • Bawden, R. J. (2007). A Systemic Evaluation of an Agricultural Development Project: A Focus on the Worldview Challenge. In R. Williams & I. Iman (Eds.) Systems Approaches to Evaluation: An expert anthology (pp. 35-46). New York: Edge Press/American Association of Evaluation.
  • Bawden, R. J. (2006). TowardsInclusive Well-Being: A Perspective on Social Ecology. In J. Pretty (Ed.) Key Issues for the 21st Century – Environment. Sage Publications: London.
  • Bawden, R. J. (2006). Educating for Capability and Inclusive Well-being. In W. J. Campbell, N. Baikaloff & C. Power (Eds.) Towards a Global Community: Educating for tomorrow’s world (pp 109-124). Dordrecht: Springer.
  • Wals, A. E. J., & Bawden, R. J. (2005). Integrating Sustainability into Agricultural Education: Dealing with complexity, uncertainty, and divergent worldviews. In A. E. J. Wals (Ed.), Curriculum Innovations in Higher Agricultural Education (pp21-60), Elsevier: The Hague.
  • Bawden, R. J. (2005). The Hawkesbury Experience: Tales from a road less travelled. In J. Pretty (Ed.) The Earthscan Reader in Sustainable Agriculture (pp. 145-172). London: Earthscan.
  • Bawden, R. J. (2004). Sustainability as Emergence: The need for engaged discourse. In P. B. Corcoran & A. E. J. Wals (Eds.) Higher Education and he Challenge of Sustainability: Problematics, Promise and Practice (pp 21-33). Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic.

Journal articles

  • Bawden, R. J., &Allenby, B. (2017). Sustainability Science and the Epistemic Challenge: Some matters philosophical and why we ought to come to know them better. Sustainability Sciences, 12, 901-905.
  • Bawden, R. J. (2016). Transforming Systems: The Hawkesbury initiatives in systemic development. South African Review of Sociology, 47, 99-116.
  • Ison, R. L, Grant, A., & Bawden, R. J. (2014). Systemic Praxis for Systemic Governance: a critical framework. Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy, 32, 623-640.
  • Bawden, R. J. (2010) Ethics and Agricultural Science: A worldview challenge. Journal of the Australian Association for Agricultural Science and Technology, 23(3), 19-22.
  • Jordan, N. R., Bawden, R. J., & Bergmann, L. (2008). Pedagogies for Addressing the Worldview Challenges of Sustainable Development. Journal of Natural Resource and Life Science Education, 37, 92-99.
  • Bawden, R. J. (2007). Pedagogies for Persistence: Cognitive Challenges and Collective Competencies. International Journal of Sustainable Development and Innovation, 2, 299-314.
  • Bawden, R. J. (2007). A Paradigm for Persistence: A Vital Challenge for the Agricultural Academy. International Journal for Agricultural Sustainability, 5, 17-24.
  • Bawden, R. J., McKenzie, B., &Packham, R. G. (2007). Moving Beyond the Academy: The intellectual and moral challenges of systemic capabilities. Systems Research and Behavioural Sciences, 24, 1-13.
  • Bawden, R. J. (2005). A Commentary. Agriculture and Human Values, 22, 169-176.
  • Bawden, R. J. (2005). Systemic Perspectives on Community Development: Participation, learning and the essence of wholeness. Perspectives on Community Development in Ireland, 1, 45-62.
  • Fear, F., Bawden, R. J., Rosaen, C. L., & Foster-Fishman, P. G. (2003). A Model of Engaged Learning: Frames of Reference and Scholarly Underpinnings. Journal of Higher Education Outreach and Engagement, 7, 55-63.
  • Bawden, R. J. (2003). Angst, Agora, and the Academy: Reflections of Experiences of Conscious Evolution. World Futures – The Journal of General Evolution, 60, 53-66.
  • Bawden, R. J., & Zuber-Skerritt, O. (2002). The Concept of Process Management. The Learning Organization, 9, 132-138.
  • Fear, F., Rosaen, C., Foster-Fishman, P.G., & Bawden, R. J. (2001). Outreach as Scholarly Expression: A Faculty Perspective. Journal of Higher Education Outreach and Engagement, 6, 21-34.
  • Bawden, R. J. (2005). Systemic Development at Hawkesbury: Some personal lessons from experience. Systems Research and Behavioural Science, 22, 151-164.
  • Bawden, R. J., & Wals, A. E. J. (2000). Conceptualising Sustainability in Education for Agriculture and Rural Development. Polish Journal of Environmental Studies, Supl II(9), 13-21.
  • Bawden, R. J. (2000). Valuing the Epistemic in the Search for Betterment. Cybernetics and Human Knowing, 7, 5-25.
  • Bawden, R. J. (1999). Towards Inclusive Well-Being: A Perspective on Social Ecology. A Social Ecology Journal, 1, 189-196.
  • Bawden, R. J. (1998). The Community Challenge: The Learning Response. New Horizons, 99, 40-59.
  • Woog, R. A. & Bawden, R. J. (1998). All you Needed to Learn During your MBA, but Probably Didn’t. New Horizons, 97, 1-10.
  • Kay, R., & Bawden, R. J. (1996). Learning to be Systemic: Some Reflections from a Learning Organisation. The Learning Organisation, 3, 18-26.
  • Bawden, R. J. (1996). The Systems Dimension in Farming Systems Research (Lead Article) Journal of Farming Systems Research and Development, 5, 1-18.
  • Bawden, R. J. (1995). I as in Academy: Learning to be Systemic. Systems Research, 12, 229-238.
  • Bawden, R. J., & Packham, R.G. (1993). Systemic Praxis in the Education of the Agricultural Practitioner. Systems Practice, 6, 7-19.
  • Bawden, R. J. (1992). Systems Approaches to Agricultural Development: The Hawkesbury Experience. Agricultural Systems, 40, 153-176.
  • Bawden, R. J. (1991) Whose Learning is it Anyway? - A Justification for Learner Managed Learning. New Horizons, 85, 30-43.
  • Bawden, R. J. (1991). Systems Thinking and Practice in Agriculture. Journal of Dairy Science, 74, 2362-2373.
  • Bawden, R. J. (1991) Dealing with Complexity: The emerging focus for development. Humanekologi 1/2, 41-51.
  • Bawden, R. J., Busch. L., & Gagni, A. (1991) The Agricultural University for the Twenty First Century. Impact of Science on Society, 164, 353-366.

Refereed conference papers

  • Bawden, R. J. (2014) A Systemic Development Theory Revisited – a farmer’s son reflects”. 5th Annual Conference Iranian Agricultural Extension and Education Association and the 1st Annual Conference of the Asian and Pacific Islands Rural Advisory Services; “Facilitating Information and Innovations for Empowering Family Farmers”. Zanjan University, Iran, September 1-6, 2014
  • Bawden, R. J. (2010) “From Transforming Systems to Transforming Systems – and Back Again”. European Conference of the International Farming Systems Association, BOKUL,
    Vienna, Austria. July 4-8, 2010

Teaching responsibilities

  • 50 years of university/CAE teaching in an eclectic spread of courses from animal parasitology and epizootiology, through systems theories and practices, communication, transformative education, sustainability and sustainable development, and systemic development (a ‘meta-discipline’ that I established in the 1980s.)
  • Taught as a faculty member at the universities of Queensland, New England and Western Sydney in Australia, at Michigan State University in the USA, and as a visiting professor/scholar at the Open University in the UK, Rutgers, Minnesota and Cornell Universities in the US, Natal in South Africa, and Wageningen in the Netherlands.
  • Been a curriculum consultant to a number of institutions and organisations within Australia as well as internationally.

Research supervision


  • 12 PhD
  • 6 Masters
  • 2 Honours

Research grants

I led the successful $4 million bid in the UWS submission for the CRC for Waste Management in 1993.I also led the successful proposal to the Vincent Fairfax Family Foundations for the establishment of the first Endowed Chair at the University of Western Sydney ($1 million in 1992).

As the founding Director of the Centre for Systemic Development I established a very successful program of action research/consulting projects that generated significant revenues for the institution from clients that included:

  • Pacific Power
  • The Australian Taxation Office
  • Warner Lambert Pharmaceutical Company

There have also been many international consultancy projects in countries including: Brazil, Costa Rica, Cuba, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Kenya, Netherlands, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Malaysia, Morocco, Mozambique, Philippines, Poland, South Africa, Thailand, Uruguay, UK, USA, Vietnam.

Funding support for such projects has been from a number of major development agencies and banks including: UNESCO, FAO/UNDP, USAID, AusAID, ADAB, AUIDP, World Bank, Asian Development Bank, Ford Foundation, Winrock Foundation, Kellogg Foundation, ISNAR, Joint Education Trust (South Africa), Technoserve, The Open University (UK).

Professional memberships

At varying stages of my career, I have been a member of the following professional/academic associations:

  • Fellow, Royal Society for the Encouragement of the Arts and Manufacturing (RSA)
  • Member International Society for the Systems Sciences (ISSS)
  • Member British Society for the Systems Sciences (BSSS)
  • Member Australian and New Zealand Systems Society (ANZYS)
  • Member of the Society for Agriculture, Food and Human Values (AFHV)
  • Member of the International Society for Parasitology (ISP)
  • Member of the Australian Society for Parasitology (ASP)

At different stages of my career I have also been a member of the editorial and/or advisory Boards of the following journals (with the first two remaining current):

  • Sustainability Science (Elsevier)
  • International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability (Elsevier)
  • Systems Research and Behavioural Science (Elsevier)
  • Journal of Quality Management (IMCB)
  • Journal for Management and Organisational Learning (IMCB) (Associate Editor)
  • Systems Research and Behavioural Science (and Invited Editor Special Edition 2004)
  • Agricultural Systems