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Chris Browne is a Lecturer in the Research School of Engineering, investigating conceptual models of complex systems, particularly the role of kinaesthetic models in learning and teaching in STEM(+) subjects. Chris would like to see the engineering discipline become more socially inclusive, and sees changing the paradigms in engineering education as the most effective leverage point towards this goal. Chris currently convenes courses in the Systems Engineering core and in the series of Vice-Chancellor’s courses, and actively seeks opportunities to collaborate on ‘interesting’ work in systems and/or education.

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Chris Browne

Ian Ross Building (31), North Road
Research School of Engineering
The Australian National University
Acton ACT 2601

R: Ian Ross Building (31), R210
L: LinkedIn

I’m always available to meet students - please email me to arrange a time.

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Learning & Teaching

My philosophy on my role as an ‘educator’ and learner:

  • learning is more than knowledge transmission
  • only learners are in charge of their own learning
  • my job is to create a feedback-rich learning environment

Teaching Practice

I try to ‘walk the talk’ in much of my teaching practice. Below are a range of topics in L&T that I’ve assimilated into my practice:

  • jigsaw teaching/learning
  • hands-on activities (constructionism)
  • students as partners
  • student-generated teaching materials, such as facilitations and videos
  • student peer review
  • flipped classrooms (that also promote learning)
  • lecture-free learning (anti-instructivism)
  • integration with professional practice
  • creativity in assessment and learning
  • portfolio-based assessment

My classes generally have a major component of ‘jigsaw’ activities, where experts are created within groups to contribute to a greater outcome. In practice, this means that students are required to build learning in different ways to aid their group project and personal learning. Jigsaw activities include a student-run tutorial (adapted from Professor Richard Baker’s supertutes), and peer review when working towards a final submission.


Courses I’ve convened in engineering:

and Vice-Chancellor’s Courses

..I have also been involved with:

  • ENGN1211 Discovering Engineering - Tutor
  • ENGN3410 Engineering Sustainable Systems - Course design and Tutor
  • COMP3530 Systems Engineering for Software Engineers - Workshop facilitator
  • ENGN8100 Systems Engineerisg - Drop-in Tutor
  • VCUG3002 Mobilising Research - Drop-in Tutor
  • ENGN4221 Systems Engineering Project - Tutor and Client

..and given invited talks in:

  • VCUG2001 Creating Knowledge
  • ENVS8003 Climate Change Vulnerability and Adaptation
  • ENVS8015 Contemporary Perspectives in Environmental Science
  • COMP3530 Systems Engineering for Software Engineers
  • Sustainable Engineering, SMaRT Centre @ UNSW
  • VCUG3001 Unravelling Complexity

Talks on T&L

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See my ANU researcher profile for an up-to-date list of publications.

Research students

If you are interested in doing a project with me, please get in touch early. Jeremy Smith and I run the Humanitarian Engineering/Higher Education Research Group.

I have ongoing projects in the areas of:

  • system dynamics and systems thinking (students should have completed ENGN3410)
  • systems engineering theory (students should have done well in the systems engineering core)
  • learning in the context of higher education

Students should be proactive in their learning, and share a desire not to use Microsoft Word to write their thesis. I recommend that you talk to one of my former students to get a sense of my supervision approach from them.



  • Aneeza Qayyum (Honours Thesis) - Green Design
  • David Peilschmidt (Honours Thesis) - Advanced Prototyping
  • Ellen Lynch (Honours Thesis) - Humanitarian Design Thinking
  • Joey McPhail (R&D Thesis) - Indigenous Engineering


  • Adrian Sweatman (Honours Thesis) An Analysis of Undergraduate Design in Australia
  • Alexander Miles (R&D Project, internal supervisor) IoT-based decision support system for monitoring and mitigating atmospheric pollution in smart cities
  • Jordan Davies (Honours Thesis, internal supervisor) Systems Engineering Implementation for the Conceptual Design of ULTIMATE-Subaru Wide-Field Ground-Layer Adaptive Optics
  • Michael Pritchard (Honours Thesis) Embedded systems as an approach for learning system dynamics
  • Taylah Meneses (R&D Project) Subconscious Learning Methods of STEM Subjects in Primary Age Students


  • Maria Foo (Honours Thesis) Building a Physical Analog for feedback rich systems
  • Grayson Horne (Honours Thesis) How primary-aged students handle unknowns in an engineering context


  • Ellen Lynch (R&D Project), Student perceptions of generic skills and attributes development
  • Gavin Saldanha (R&D Project, co-supervisor), Nano-particles for water filtration in rural Cambodia
  • Jordan Nguyen (Honours Thesis), Investigation into drinking water safety in rural Timor-Leste
  • Sarah Blacklock (Honours Thesis), Learning not to lose a deficit model prevalent in our learners


  • Bernardo Ribeiro (Summer Research Project), Stackable Tubs & Pumps system
  • Hye La (Research & Development), Designing an Activity to enhance understanding of Subsystem Integration
  • James Gan (Honours Thesis) Analysis of knowledge transfer through written instructions
  • Joseph Nakhle (Honours Thesis), An Investigation on Factors That Influence Kerbside Recycling
  • Kevin Buckmaster (Honours Thesis), Understanding Evaluation Bias in Structured Decision-Making
  • Tharun Rajan (Honours Thesis), Activity-Based Learning in Systems Engineering Education
  • Tianrui Pan (Honours Thesis), Better delivering the concept of inclusive design using simulation equipment


  • Hye La (Research & Development Project), Hands-On Analogues as Teaching Aid


  • Brendan Spencer, Feasibility of different smart power grid network designs on the Canberra region


  • David Ainsworth, Diffusion of Solar Technology
  • Damien Balachandran, Diffusion of the Abundant Water Filter in Lao A System Dynamics Perspective


  • Michael Mazengarb, Design for Diffusion: Integration of principles from the study of the diffusion of innovations into the Systems Engineering Approach

Non-refereed talks

  1. Browne, C., Newell, B., and Compston, P., “The education leverage point: climate change”, abstract and presentation at Engineers Australia SEng 2013 Conference, 18-20 September 2013 (PDF)
  2. Browne, C., Newell, B., and Compston, P., “Pumps & Tubs: A hands-on activity”, workshop presented at the International System Dynamics Conference, 21-25 July 2013
  3. Browne, C., Jones, H., and Compston, P., Insulating Expectations: A Dynamical Perspective of the Assumptions Used in Australia’s Home Insulation Program, presented at 12th PhD Colloquium of the 2011 International System Dynamics Conference.
  4. Instrumented Whitewater Slalom Project, AIS Smart Talks series; Canberra, 2009


  • Doctoral: Browne, C.A. A double-loop learning approach to construct understanding of accumulation principles Open Research
  • Honours: Browne, C. Developing Transfer: A model for improving knowledge and technology transfer in a developing world context, submitted as part of the Bachelor of Engineering (Manufacturing) at the Australian National University, 2009. PDF

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  • Australian Award for Teaching Excellence (Early Career) - Australian Awards for University Teaching, Office of Learning and Teaching 2014
    ANU News article OLT awards site
  • Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Teaching Excellence - Australian National University (ANU) 2014.
    Application based the Jigsaw Classroom used in ENGN2225/ENGN2226 CECS News article
  • Dean’s Award for Teaching Excellence - College of Engineering and Computer Science (CECS) 2013.
    Application based the alignment of ENGN2225/ENGN2226
  • Moodleposium 2013, Best design for student interaction in a Moodle course, Pedagogical Content knowledge
  • International System Dynamics Conference 2012, Runner-up, Best Poster “Is it Really Greener in the Cloud?”(Poster)
  • Award for Excellence in Tutoring or Demonstrating (Nomination), ANU 2012
  • ResearchFest @ ANU 2011, Best Poster “Insulating Expectations - Can Ceiling Insulation Really Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions” (Poster)
  • Australian Water Association - OzWater’11, Undergraduate Research Prize, for excellence in the field of water studies and research “Analysis of Breakdown of Technology Transfer in Cambodia”
  • Australian Water Association - ACT Chapter, 2010 Undergraduate Research Prize (as above)

Student Work

I believe that students’ experience of learning should be evaluated by the quality of the work that is produced and not the level of ‘satisfaction’.

You can see the extraordinary work of my students, particularly their portfolios, at the various course pages:

Updated:  31 Jan 2019/ Responsible Officer:  Head of School/ Page Contact:  Page Contact