About John Cole

A passionate advocate for Australia’s regions and their peoples,  John Cole  is an Honorary Professor in the Institute for Resilient Regions at the University of Southern Queensland.  He was founding Executive Director of the Institute between 2013 and 2019.

Most recently until his retirement in October 2021 Professor Cole was Pro Vice-Chancellor for Engagement at one of Australia’s leading regional universities, the University of Southern Queensland.

An expert in sustainable development and sustainability innovation (including adaptive strategies for dealing with climate change)  in 2009 he was the founding director of the Australian Centre for Sustainable Business and Development at USQ and a leading adviser on sustainable development.  Between 2015 and 2020 he was also an Adjunct and Honorary Professor at the UQ Business School in The University of Queensland.

Cole has held senior positions in all levels of government, industry and academia.  In the Queensland Government between 1998 and 2009  he served as head of the Office of Clean Energy and the Office of Multicultural Affairs and also as an Executive Director in the Environmental Protection Agency where he established and led the non-regulatory Sustainable Industries Division.

In the 1990s he was a founding director and inaugural CEO of the precursor to the Business Council for Sustainable Development Australia (BCSDA) the Environment Management Industry Association of Australia (EMIAA) and its export arm, AUSTEMEX.    During the 1980s he was a professional historian before moving to Canberra where he worked as a senior policy adviser in the Office of the Leader of the National Party, the Rt Hon Ian Sinclair.

Cole has a Ph D in Australian demographic history from The University of Queensland (1982)and has written a number of history books.  He was also recipient of a number of United States exchange scholarships and opportunities  including a Fulbright Postdoctoral Fellowship (1983) and participation in the International Visitor Leadership Program (1999).

In 2012 he received the Queensland Premier’s Award for Leadership in Sustainability and 2016 he was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia for meritorious service to the community, the environment and higher education.

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