Tanzi completed her PhD research at ISF in 2011. Her thesis is titled "Connecting the social and ecological: an exploration of learning oriented, systemic practice in the field of environment and development". Her research was an exploration of the practical potential of ecological principles to guide the creation of socially and environmentally sustainable decision making within community development projects.
In 2005 Tanzi was awarded a Sir Edward Weary Dunlop Fellowship which helped to fund her PhD field work in 2006/2007 in Vietnam. Tanzi was also a Wentworth Scholar with the Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists in 2010. Prior to joining ISF, Tanzi has worked in research, industry and consulting and also volunteered on a number of projects for Oxfam Community Aid Abroad in Melbourne.
In addition to her recent 9 month stint in Hanoi, during 2002/2003 Tanzi also spent a year living and working in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, as part of the Australian Youth Ambassador Program. Her education includes a Bachelor of Environmental Engineering (Hons I) and a Bachelor of Science from the University of Queensland which she completed in 1996 and 1997. She also holds a Graduate Diploma of Social Science (International Development) from RMIT and a Permaculture Design Certificate.
Natural resource management
De La Sienra Servin, E.E., Smith, T. & Mitchell, C. 2017, 'Worldviews, A Mental Construct Hiding the Potential of Human Behaviour: A New Learning Framework to Guide Education for Sustainable Development', The Journal of Sustainability Education, vol. 13, pp. 1-21.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
Latest results in Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) research and practice show a tendency towards more holistic approaches aiming at deep transformation of the self and the meanings of human existence. Aligned with this, we present the Transdisciplinary Framework of Worldviews and Behaviours (TFWB) to describe the possible formation and expression of a worldview, a complex constellation of meaning and identity from which all human conduct emerges. Four key principles arising from the TFWB are: 1) The whole embodied nervous system is greater than the sum of its separated parts, especially when it comes to intelligence (information processing) and learning (meaning making); 2) The mind is a highly emotion-dependent and mostly unconscious entity; 3) A worldview is a unique arrangement of meaning each person builds, and lives through; and 4) Increasing self-awareness about how a personal worldview is formed and expressed generates increasing opportunities for that individual to explore and build a different meaning for their experience, or to explore and choose different forms to express it (behave). The TFWB informs a new perspective on learning that could be useful for the achievement of ESD's transformative goals, guiding the innovative design of educational initiatives encouraging new conceptualizations about the meanings of being human; thus, facilitating potential behavioural transformations toward a more sustainable existence.
Research involving fieldwork can present the researcher with ethical dilemmas not anticipated in institutional ethics approval processes, and which offer profound personal and methodological challenges. The authors' experiences of conducting qualitative fieldwork in four distinctly different contexts are used to illustrate some of these unexpected consequences and ethical dilemmas. Issues encountered included: compromised relationships with informants which develop in unforeseen ways; engagement with traumatized informants which lead to unexpected roles for the researcher such as confidante, dealing with new information that is critical to informants' futures but could undermine the research project, and the implications of ethical decisions for research design and analysis. In our shared reflection on the four case studies in this paper, we examine anticipatory rather than reactive ways of dealing with such ethical dilemmas. Preparation and critical reflection are found to be key tools in relating to field informants, dealing with the personal challenges of undertaking field work, and developing useful research outcomes after returning home. We conclude by suggesting some issues for field researchers to consider in addition to the concerns addressed in a standard university ethics approval process.
Smith, T. 2011, 'Using critical systems thinking to foster an integrated approach to sustainability: a proposal for development practitioners', Environment, Development and Sustainability, vol. 13, no. 1, pp. 1-17.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
Throughout the development sector, there is increasing recognition of links between the environment and aspects of development such as poverty alleviation, health, income generation, and agriculture. While furnished with a diverse range of perspectives and approaches, development practice is in need of ways to better conceptualize the interactions between the social, environmental, and economic dimensions of sustainability so that opportunities for simultaneous improvement in human and ecological well-being can be identified more readily. Critical systems thinking is proposed as a way for development practitioners to conceptualize and act toward the integration of these economic, social, and environmental dimensions and, in so doing, support communities to nurture both human and ecosystem well-being. Four desirable attributes of a critical systems thinking approach to development are identified based on development literature, critical systems literature, and the author½s research into sustainability in semi-rural communities in Vietnam. The four attributes are `a systems thinking approach;½ `an ethical base to action and choices;½ `critical reflection permeates processes;½ and `appreciation of diverse views and application of diverse approaches.½ These attributes are described and then offered as the basis for further discussion of the ways in which simultaneous improvement of human well-being and ecosystem health can become an integral part of development practice.
Smith, T., Willetts, J.R. & Mitchell, C.A. 2007, 'An integrating framework for sustainable communities: exploring the possibilites and challenges', International Journal of Environmental, Cultural, Economic and Social Sustainability, vol. 2, pp. 1-9.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
The purpose of this paper is to briefly outline a framework for sustainable communities and to introduce some of the ways that this framework can contribute to an integrated view of sustainability, incorporating both natural and social science perspectives. Several sustainability concepts derived from principles that govern the operation and organisation of ecosystems have been integrated and synthesised to create this theoretical framework. These concepts are drawn from diverse academic disciplines and practice-oriented endeavours, and they each address a different aspect of sustainability. Through the synthesis of these concepts, the framework offers a bridge of common terms and metaphors between the physical and social science perspectives on sustainability. Consequently, it can facilitate an approach that integrates the dimensions of environmental, cultural, social and economic sustainability. To demonstrate the elements of the framework and its potential to help overcome polarisation of the physical and social sciences, the framework is applied to two concepts that are fundamental to sustainability: social justice and environmental pollution. Using the lessons learned from this theoretical exercise and the authors experience to date of sharing the integrating framework with others, the possibilities and challenges of the proposed framework are examined.
Fam, D.M., Smith, T. & Cordell, D. 2017, 'Being a transdisciplinary researcher: skills and dispositions fostering competence in transdisciplinary research and practice' in Fam, D., Palmer, J., Riedy, C. & Mitchell, C. (eds), Transdisciplinary research and practice for sustainability outcomes, pp. 77-92.
Smith, T. 2017, ''To be green, clean and beautiful is progressive': reframing sustainability through transdisciplinary research and practice in northern Vit Nam' in Fam, D., Palmer, J., Riedy, C. & Mitchell, C. (eds), Transdisciplinary Research and Practice for Sustainability Outcomes, Routledge.
Palmer, J.M., Smith, T., Willetts, J.R. & Mitchell, C.A. 2009, 'Creativity, ethics and transformation: key factors in a transdisciplinary application of systems methodology to resolving wicked problems in sustainability' in Sheffield, J. (ed), Systemic Development: Local solutions in a global environment, ISCE Publishing, USA, pp. 69-77.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
Sustainability is a wicked problem that requires a transdisciplinary approach. The deining characteristics of transdisciplinarity include collaborative, creative, higher order thinking which transcends discipline boundaries, the explicit contribution of an ethical or moral perspective to problem resolution, and the generation of new knowledge and new resolutions not available in multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary environments. These characteristics align well with theories on transformative learning and Wilbers theories on consciousness evolution. However we need ways to translate this thinking into practice. Soft systems methodology could provide this practical element, but does not necessarily emphasise transformative learning, or moral perspectives aligned with sustainability i.e. valuing of ecologically restorative, socially just, economically proitable resolutions. This paper explores how integration of a transformative learning process with soft systems methodology might provide a useful transdisciplinary approach to sustainability.
Smith, T. 2009, 'Using critical systems thinking to foster virtuous cycles of sustainability and liveability: A proposal for rural development practitioners', 53rd Annual Conference of the International Society for the Systems Sciences 2009: Making Liveable, Sustainable Systems Unremarkable, pp. 187-214.
Critical systems thinking originated with the purpose of questioning power imbalances and facilitating a reflective and systems oriented approach to some of the most complex issues we face. Sustainability is one such issue which brings with it the challenge of integrating social, environmental and economic dimensions of a situation. Liveability is often the primary motive driving an individual or communities desire for improvement. This paper suggests that one of the main ways that this desire for improvement can coincide with sustainability lies in the ability to identify and propel virtuous cycles in which both sustainability and liveability are enhanced. Among the development sector there is increasing recognition of links between the environment and aspects of development such as poverty alleviation, health, income generation and agriculture. Whilst furnished with a diverse range of perspectives and approaches, development practice is in need of ways of conceptualizing the interaction between sustainability and liveability that emphasise the opportunities for improvement in human and ecological well-being that exist in this space. For decades, the rural development sector has been developing practices aimed at fostering participation, mutual learning and sustainability. This paper offers a contribution to expand on and improve these practices. The paper focuses on rural development and identifies both virtuous and vicious cy cles of liveability and sustainability which are relevant to development practice. Critical systems thinking is proposed as a way for rural development practitioners to conceptualise the integration of economic, social and environmental dimensions and, in doing so, support participant communities to nurture and foster virtuous cycles of sustainable liveability. Four desirable attributes of a critical systems thinking approach to rural development are identified based on development literature, critical systems literature and the authors' ...
Palmer, J.M., Smith, T., Willetts, J.R. & Mitchell, C.A. 2007, 'Creativity, ethics and transformation: key factors in a transdisciplinary application of systems methodology to resolving wicked problems in sustainability', Systemic Development: Local Solutions in a Global Environment, Annual Australia and New Zealand Systems Conference, ISCE Publishing, Auckland, New Zealand, pp. 1-10.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
Smith, T., Stephens, A., Willetts, J.R. & Mitchell, C.A. 2008, 'A systemic framework for intervening in a current, local sustainability issue - Traveston crossing dam', Conference of the Australia New Zealand Society for Ecological Economics, Conference of the Australia New Zealand Society for Ecological Economics, Australia New Zealand Society for Ecological Economics, Noosa, QLD.
Smith, T., Willetts, J.R. & Mitchell, C.A. 2007, 'Implications of the synergies between systems theory and permaculture for learning about and acting towards sustainability', 2007 ANZSEE Conference. Re-inventing Sustainability: A Climate for Change, Conference of the Australia New Zealand Society for Ecological Economics, Australia New Zealand Society of Ecological Economics, Noosa, Queensland, Australia, pp. 1-29.
Smith, T., Edwards, D., Kazaglis, A. & Turner, A.J. 2007, 'How much further can demand management strategies go to ensure further water security for South East Queensland?', Water...It's for life, Water...It's for life, AWA Regional Conference, Australian Water Association (AWA), Sunshine Coast, pp. 284-295.
Smith, T., Mitchell, C.A. & Willetts, J.R. 2006, 'An Ecological Framework for Sustainable Communities:Exploring the Possibilities and Limitations', 2nd International Conference on Environmental, Cultural, Economic and Social Sustainability, Second International Conference on Environmental, Cultural, Economic and Social Sustainability, Common Ground Publishing, Hanoi, Vietnam.
Smith, T., Willetts, J.R. & Mitchell, C.A. 2006, 'Permaculture as a systems ecology approach to enhancing well-being and ecosystems services: aligning practice, theory and outcomes', Proceedings of the Ninth Biennial Conference of International Society for Ecological Economics on Ecological Sustainability and Human Well-being, Ninth Biennial Conference of International Society for Ecological Economics on Ecological Sustainability and Human Well-being, International Society of Ecological Economics, New Delhi, India.