About me

Hi, my name is Dr Stephen McGrail. I am an inter- and transdisciplinary professional and research analyst based in Melbourne. My work is somewhat eclectic but over the past decade it has mostly entailed applied social inquiry focused on urban climate action and sustainability transitions, though I have also worked on other topics.

I have a diverse professional background in academic research (mostly applied social research), professional services (e.g. management consulting), and sustainability-oriented fields. This has included being a Research Fellow and Research Assistant at a number of universities (Monash University, Swinburne University, and the University of Melbourne). Over 2013-2018 I completed my PhD at the Institute for Sustainable Futures (ISF), a transdisciplinary research institute based at University Technology Sydney. Prior to such research roles I worked in professional services industries (e.g. management consulting and advertising) and also as a Sessional Lecturer at Swinburne University.

As the page on my PhD research and its implications suggests, I also have an emerging interest in social theory and the social sciences as it relates to other interests of mine such as environmental sociology, climate change action, and knowledge practices. For example, I’m interested in ideas emerging in subfields of sociology such as cognitive sociology. I partly view my emerging research approach as being a cognitively-oriented social scientist.  That is, when seeking to explain or understand social patterns (and associated human behaviour) I sometimes find it productive to consider their potential cognitive roots and associated socio-cognitive causal processes. A related interest concerns what some sociologists theorise as ‘cultural-cognitive’ causal processes, such as how cognition and knowledge practices can be (or become) as much socioculturally scripted as they are innately inscribed” (Cerulo, 2002). This provides an analytical perspective and, as other scholars have shown, it can also inform new ways of theorising aspects of social life (Brekhus, 2007).

My research/work (often as part of teams I’ve been grateful to be part of) has been published in a number of academic journals including the Journal of Cleaner Production, Sustainability, Futures, Evaluation Journal of Australasia, International Journal of Foresight and Innovation Policy, On the Horizon, and Journal of Futures Studies. I have also been an invited reviewer for a number of leading journals including Sustainability Science, Geographical Review and Environment, Systems and Decisions, as well as providing reviews as part of journal special issues (e.g. for the journal On the Horizon).

My earlier experience in the advertising industry (after completing a marketing degree) and as a freelance writer informs my consideration of communication and persuasion.

Blog aims: This blog was originally used to reflect on my PhD journey, share emerging insights, and comment on related issues and events that emerge from time to time (most posts between 2013-2018/19 reflect this original focus). Currently, the blog has shifted to reflect my evolving work and interests. I maintain an active interest in forward-looking research and related participatory processes (which I term ‘prospective exercises’) and related knowledge practices (which I term ‘prospective knowledge practices’) and to a lesser extent the social studies of science. The blog occasionally comments on broader topics relevant to sustainability-oriented action (desired ‘sustainability transitions’).

 NOTE: At present I am posting infrequently as my core focus is on clarifying my future career directions and associated research interests and life choices.

For further information on my other writing and research see the ‘Publications’ page.

Preferred contact via email: stephen.mcgrail@gmail.com