Sustainability is a broad area of research, yet of great interest to James Cook University.

The Sustainability Research Cluster commenced its life as the circular economy and sustainability group arising out Strategic Research Investment Fund Application Round Two in 2018. The work carried out by the group across JCUS and JCUA is unique, because it covers the circular economy, green consumers and the social economy that successfully weave social science and environmental sciences into evaluations of real business models. Hence the interdisciplinary work carried out by the cluster became a prominent flagship at CITBA and an established research group at The Cairns Institute, where we organised a meeting to showcase Queensland’s Advanced Manufacturing and Circular to the World Economic Forum by invitation from the Office of Queensland Chief Entrepreneur, and delivered a keynote on Inclusive and Sustainable Economic Development at the Cairns Institute, covered by Australian Win TV at the 6pm News prior Covid.

The direction of the Sustainability Research Cluster is steered by the members of the group. Our advisor is Distinguished Professor Stewart Lockie of The Cairns Institute, and the cluster receives advice from a board of leading external academics and practitioners. We welcome partnership suggestions, research ideas, and research funding inquiries, via the Principal Investigator, Professor Adrian Kuah 1


Our unique research focuses on three pillars: (1) green economy, (2) social economy and (3) digital economy, which bring multidisciplinary expertise from across the three JCU campuses to collaborate on the framework of sustainable development. Our interest builds intangible social and environmental analyses into sustainability evaluations including digital analytics and environmental science.

Our green economy pillar focuses on green products and industries using the concept of circular economy and consumer acceptance to further understand how green economic growth could be promoted. On this front, our members have published on green products such as solar and wind energy, remanufactured products, ethical and sustainable goods in line with the framework of sustainable development and circular economy shown in the Figure 1. Active faculty includes AP Pengji Wang, Dr. Caroline Wong, Dr. Thirumaran K. Two PhD students are currently working in this area – Mr Jayden Kim and Mr Rayan Daniyal (forthcoming) supervised by the team.

Proposed New Projects

Towards a Country Based Market Typology in sustainable luxury brands by Dr Thiru
Sustainable Brand Identity by Mr Daniyal (Adjunct)

Our social economy pillar investigates into corporations and institutions that supports sustainable and inclusive growth. Primarily, the team has focussed into behaviours, corporatism, and institutional structures such as the sharing economy, tripartism, and corporate social responsibility that support the framework of sustainable development. Faculty working in this pillar includes Dr Stephane Le Queux (JCUA), AP Pengji Wang, AP Sizhong Sun (JCUA), Dr Sook Rei Tan and Dr Ai Ni Teoh. Two PhD students are currently working in this area - Mrs Ratna Devi and Mr Xia Yi supervised by the team

Proposed New Projects

Consumer Stress and Engagement in Sharing Economy by Dr Teoh (Psychology)

The digital economy pillar covers digital transformation using data science, technology, virtual reality and engineering to contribute to sustainable development. This pillar is in collaboration with members of the School of Science and Technology who are interested to integrate artificial intelligence, data science, and technology with business continuity and sustainability, and other members investigating into the digitalisation challenges (e.g. in tourism). Active faculty participating in this area includes AP Roberto Dillon, Dr. Thirumaran, Dr. Eric Tham, Dr Ai Ni Teoh, and Dr. Zilmiyah Kamble. External faculty in this collaboration includes Asst Prof Kok Hoong Wong, and Asst Prof Gavin Lai of University of Nottingham Ningbo China. Two new PhD students are working in this area - Mr Joel Yap and Mr Rupesh Selvaraj supervised by the team.

Proposed New Projects

Systematic Review of Digital Influencer Marketing by Mr Xia
Digitalization of social collective memory by Mr Joel Yap
Digital risk and cyber security in shipping by Dr Eric Tham (Info Tech)

1 Kuah is appointed to the Technical Committee for Circularity of Materials under the purview of Environment and Resources Standards Committee with effect from 28 Jan 2022 to 31 Dec 2023. He is also selected by Enterprise Singapore in Jan 2019 to the NMC for ISO/TC 323 Circular Economy, alongside Professor Seeram Ramakrishna from NUS and Professor Jonathan Tan from A*STAR with the remit to provide national inputs and participate in standardization of ISO/TC 323 in Geneva. Part of the University's Sustainable Development Working Group from 2019 to 2022, he received the JCU award for his outstanding contribution toward addressing the UN Sustainable Development Goals.