meet Paul


Paul Tranter is an Honorary Associate Professor in geography at UNSW Canberra, where his research and teaching interests are in children’s geographies and transport geography.  His research on children’s geographies began in the early 1990s, when he conducted the first Australian and New Zealand study into children’s independent mobility. Since then Paul has researched children’s independent mobility and active travel, child health and well-being, play and risk, environmental learning, child-friendly environments and children’s rights.  His research is based on a policy objective of creating a better environment for all citizens, both now and in the future.Paul was a member of the CATCH/iMATCH research teams (Children, Active Travel, Connectedness and Health / Independent Mobility, Active Travel and Children’s Health).  These projects, funded by Australian Research Council Discovery and Linkage Grants, involved national research studies of children’s mobility and health and the policy interventions that facilitate these.  Paul is also a member of the multi-disciplinary Sydney Playground Project team, examining the benefits of outdoor play and the impact of interventions in school grounds to encourage this play. This research is currently focussing on children with disabilities.

As well as research on school grounds and children’s mobilities, Paul as examined children’s use of the residential street as a play space, demonstrating that children’s play on residential streets has immense value not only for children’s well-being, but also for their parents, the wider community and the environment.  Taking a global perspective, Paul and Dr Scott Sharpe examined the theme of “children and peak oil”, showing that an awareness of the challenges of energy stress could provide the impetus for societal changes enhancing children’s rights.  Paul also examined innovative ways to communicate serious topics within children’s geographies.  With Dr Sharpe, he showed how the Disney/Pixar movie Monsters, Inc. could be used as an allegory to illustrate how the current reliance on a particular form of energy (oil) could be linked with an undermining of children’s rights (including their right to play).

In 2011, Paul co-authored Children and their Urban Environment:  Changing Worlds, with Claire Freeman, placing children’s well-being within the context of global concerns about health and well-being for all citizens.  The book argues that adaptations to cities that are child-centred need to be made if the world is to have a sustainable future, and describes changes that can make our cities more child friendly and more liveable for all city residents.

As well as his academic research, Paul has presented numerous keynote addresses at a range of conferences and events with a focus on children’s well-being and liveable cities, including international WALK21 and Velocity conferences. He is currently combining his research interests on children’s geographies with the theme of the “speed paradox”.  Paul’s research demonstrates that the child-friendly modes (walking, cycling and public transport) are also the modes that (paradoxically) reduce time pressure for urban residents.

Key expertise:

  • children’s well-being
  • sustainable transport


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Paul Tranter