Dr. Karen Malone

Professor of Education and Research Director, Swinburne University of Technology 

Dr. Karen Malone is Professor of Education and Research Director, in the Department of Education, School of Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities, at Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne. 


Professor Malone researches in urban ecologies, science and environmental education and childhood studies with a specific focus on children’s encounters of damaged urban landscapes. Most of her research has been conducted in majority world nations funded by UNICEF Child Friendly Cities Initiatives, with her most current global research project being Children in the Anthropocene. Her international research activities are conducted using through postqualitative research with young children and their families in a variety of geographically diverse locations.


During her career Professor Malone has authored 7 books and over 100 other publications. She is co-author of the International Research Handbook on Childhoodnature and first named editor of the book series Children: Global Posthumanist perspectives and materialist theories. She is also first named author of an edited collection titled Reimaginging Sustainability in Precarious Times. Her most recent sole-authored book Children in the Anthropocene explores her research interest in child/hoods entangled  in  messy urban  ecologies  in  South  America and Asia, it was 

published in early 2018 when she also launched her international project of the same name.  Her most recent funded research project ‘Children sensing ecologically’ explores very young pre-language children’s walking encounters of urban landscapes using video captures and ethnographic mapping.

Childhood Summit 2019 - Keynote - Childhood In Practice - Workshop - Environment -

Day 1 Afternoon - Thought Leader Forum - Environment - Facilitator with Amy Cutter-Mackenzie-Knowles

Day 2 & Day 3 Afternoon - Childhood In Practice - Workshop with Amy Cutter-Mackenzie-Knowles

Day 3 Afternoon - Keynote - Children's Urban Mobilities

Childhood In Practice

Mapping and troubling natureplay:  Posthuman cartographies
With professor Amy Cutter-Mackenzie-Knowles

Recent analysis in childhood studies identifies that educators have readily framed childhood as a social or cultural construct with little consideration of nature (Malone, 2016; Taylor, 2013, 2017).  Wood and Attfield (2005) position Froebel, Rousseau and Dewey as seminal theorists in shifting views of early childhood education with play seen as critical to children’s learning and development.  However, these theorists often placed the child at the centre of learning with the environment as a backdrop, prop, setting or even a ‘third teacher’ (Dodd-Nufrio, 2011). In backgrounding the environment as the passive context for children’s social, physical, and mental development, they have not adequately considered the child and nature as interpenetrating and mutually entangled worlds, or what Cutter-Mackenzie-Knowles, Malone and Barratt Hacking (2018) frame as childhoodnature – a posthumanist hybridised understanding of childhood and nature as mutually important.


In further understanding the complexities of natureplay, in this session we focus on cartography; an arts-based education research methodology of creating visual maps from observations, ideas and pedagogies for natureplay.  We draw upon Latour’s (2013) model of cartography, which is focused on the relations between people, places and objects (Cutcher, Rousell, & Cutter-Mackenzie, 2015). Latour (2013) positions the cartographic network as domains of knowledge.  This session will enable participants to gain valuable insight into accessing children’s domains of knowledge through/as natureplay.


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