Natalie Downes

Natalie Downes is a researcher in the Rural Education and Communities research group at the University of Canberra. She also works with the University of Canberra Widening Participation unit.

Natalie’s research interests include rural distance education, rural research ethics, rural meanings, and rural-regional sustainability. Her thesis explored the influence of rural meanings in schooling for distance education students and the conflict this creates for parent supervisors due to the marginalization of rurality in schooling.

Some of her current collaborations explore questions about access to education via distance education, the social and cultural experiences of rural university students, rural professions, rural education research and its contribution to rural communities, and the professional identity development of rural pre-service teachers. Central to these works is the sociocultural politics of education in rural communities and the ethics and impact of working with rural people and communities.

Natalie also works with the University Widening Participation unit assisting with program evaluation and reporting and has previously worked as a Research Officer at the University of Canberra. She also promotes the work of rural education scholars for the Australian and International Journal of Rural Education via social media. Natalie enjoys working on projects with the ‘Rural Education Research Network’ which focuses on supporting students, early career researchers and community members interested in rural education by developing resources, encouraging connections, and hosting the Emerging Rural Scholars Summit.


• Downes, N., Fuqua, M., Guenther, J., Marsh, J., Roberts, P., Reid, J. (2019 – in press). Valuing research subjects: The ethics of defining, doing and disseminating rural education research
• Roberts, P., & Downes, N. (2019 – in press). The rural difference trope: leader perceptions on rural, regional and remote schooling difference. Leading and Managing.
• Downes, N., & Roberts, P. (2018). Revisiting the schoolhouse: A literature review on staffing rural, remote and isolated schools in Australia 2004-2016. Australian and International Journal of Rural Education, 28(1), 31-54.
• Chapman, A., Roberts, P., Downes, N. (2017). Rural-regional sustainability in the Murray Darling Basin: School/community difference and the politics of water in rural Australia. Australian and International Journal of Rural Education, 27(2).
• Roberts, P. & Downes, N. (2016). Conflicting messages: Sustainability and Education for Rural-Regional Sustainability. Rural Society, 25(1), 15-36.
• Downes, N. & Roberts, P. (2015). Valuing rural meanings: The work of parent supervisors challenging dominant educational discourses. Australian and International Journal of Rural Education, 25(3), 80-93.
• Downes, N. (2013). The Challenges and Opportunities experienced by Parent Supervisors in Primary School Distance Education. Australian and International Journal of Rural Education, 23(2), 31-42.