Susan Owen

Assistant Professor of Professional Practice

  • Email: Susan
  • Tel: 1 778-782-7920
  • Office: TASC2 8901
  • Personal site:


  • BA, (Geography) University of Auckland
  • MA, (Geography) University of Auckland
  • PhD, Geography, University of Auckland


Susan’s research programme focuses on the dynamics and resilience of atoll islands and coastal communities in the context of environmental change. She works at an interdisciplinary interface to create opportunities to communicate science knowledge of socio-political relevance and collaboratively explore complex environmental governance questions. Engaged in projects in Pacific, Indian Ocean and New Zealand contexts, her research offers a platform to provoke commentary beyond the discussion of biophysical observations to challenge thinking and inform thoughtful human adaptation responses to changing environmental conditions.

Susan is involved in an interdisciplinary collaboration in New Zealand (Resilience to Nature’s Challenges: Living at the Edge) that brings together physical and social scientists and local stakeholders to support questions about biophysical and social change for coastal communities.  She has also supervised numerous graduate students across a range of environmental management and policy questions.

Selected publications:

  • HOLDWAY, A., FORD, M. & OWEN, S. (2021) Global-scale changes in the area of atoll islands during the 21st century, Anthropocene, 33.
  • KENCH, P.S., MCLEAN. R.F., OWEN, S.D, et al. (2020) Climate-forced sea-level lowstands in the Indian Ocean during the last two millennia, Nature Geoscience, 13, 61–64.
  • KENCH, P., OWEN, S., BEETHAM, E., MANN, T., MCLEAN, R. & ASHTON, (2020) A. Holocene sea level dynamics drive formation of a large atoll island in the central Indian Ocean, Global and Planetary Change, 195.
  • FORD, M., KENCH, P., OWEN, S, & HUA, Q. (2020) Active Sediment Generation on Coral Reef Flats Contributes to Recent Reef Island Expansion, Geophysical Research Letters, 47 (23).
  • Owen, S., Kench, P.S., Lawrence, J., Ryan, E.J., Bell, R., Rennie, H., and Schneider, P. (2018) Managed retreat in coastal areas, New Zealand Planning Quarterly, June 2018.
  • Kench, P.S., Ford, M. & Owen, S.D. (2018) Patterns of island change and persistence offer alternate adaptation pathways for atoll nations, Nature Communications, 9(1):605
  • Kench, P.S., Mclean, R.F, Owen, S.D., Tuck, M., Ford, M. (2018) Storm-deposited coral blocks: A mechanism of island genesis, Tutaga island, Funafuti atoll, Tuvalu, Geology, 46 (10): 915-918.
  • Kench, P.S., Ryan, E.J., Owen, S., Bell, R., Lawrence, J., Glavovic, B., Blackett, P., Becker, J., Schneider, P., Allis, M., Dickson, M. and Rennie, H.G. (2018) Co-creating resilience solutions to coastal hazards through an interdisciplinary research project in New Zealand, Journal of Coastal Research, Special Issue No. 85, Coconut Creek (Florida)
  • Thompson, M., Owen, S., Lindsay, J., Cronin, S., and Leonard, G. (2017) Scientist and stakeholder perspectives of transdisciplinary research: Early attitudes, expectations, and tensions, Environmental Science and Policy, 74: 30-39.
  • Owen, S.D., Kench, P.S., & Ford, M. (2016) Improving understanding of the spatial dimensions of biophysical change in atoll island countries and implications for island communities: a Marshall Islands’ case study, Applied Geography, 72, July, 55–64.
  • Kench, PS, Owen S.D., (2015) Coral Reef Systems and the Complexity of Hazards, in Sherman, D and Ellis, J (eds) Coastal and Marine Hazards, Risks, and Disasters, Elsevier.
  • Kench, P., Chan, J., Owen, S., McLean, R., (2014) The Geomorphology, Development and Temporal Dynamics of Tepuka Island, Funafuti Atoll, Tuvalu, Geomorphology, Special Issue: Coral Reef, 222, 46-58.
  • Kench, P., Owen, S., Ford, M. (2014) Evidence for Coral Island Formation During Rising Sea Level in the Central Pacific Ocean, Geophysical Research Letters, doi:10.1002/2013GL059000.
  • Smith,W., Kelly, S. and Owen, S. (2012) Coping with Hazards: A Comparison of Farmers’ Responses to Drought and Flood in the Manawatu, New Zealand, International Journal of Mass Emergencies and Disasters, Vol. 30, No. 1, pp. 82–110.
  • Owen, S.D., Kearns, R.A. (2006) Competition, adaptation and resistance: (re)forming health organisations in New Zealand's third sector, In: Milligan, C. and Conradson, D.(eds.), Landscapes of Voluntarism., London, Policy Press, p.115-134.


Future courses may be subject to change.