Politics and International Studies (POLIS)

Polis is a research network of Political Science and International Relations scholars who seek to understand and interpret political phenomena, driven by a willingness to move beyond traditional conceptual and empirical boundaries.


Overview

‘Humans are by nature political animals’, or so Aristotle believed some two-and-a-half thousand years ago. Today, humans face an array of political challenges that not even Aristotle could have imagined: climate change, ethnic and religious conflict, mass migration, neo-authoritarianisms, failed states and ever-widening global inequities.

These challenges are at once local and global in scope, are questioning traditional forms of sovereignty and nationhood, and are compounded by the processes of globalisation and free-market economic liberalism. But such monumental challenges have spawned new and exciting forms of politics: village elections and participatory budgeting; transitional justice and deliberative conflict resolution; ‘clicktivism’ and transnational civil society movements; and global forms of governance and citizenship.

For Aristotle, each of these movements may have been seen as proof of his assertion about our political nature; for us, they serve as evidence that political science has never been more central to the drive towards a sustainable, democratic and peaceful society underpinned by a cosmopolitan ethic and a tolerance of diversity and difference.


Our work

Polis is a research network of Political Science and International Relations scholars at Deakin University. We seek to understand and interpret the above political phenomena, driven by a willingness to move beyond traditional conceptual and empirical boundaries.

We also seek to undertake applied research through partnerships with collaborators including government departments, international agencies, NGOs, industry and the private sector. Within the broader discipline of political science, we have specific expertise in the fields of international relations, comparative government and politics, and citizenship studies.


Research themes and projects

Democracy and Democratic Transitions

The Politics of Multiculturalism: Korean Migrants in Australia and New Zealand. 

This project analyses the lives of Korean migrants who grew up in Australia and New Zealand, the role they play in their host societies, and their connections with the Korean community and homeland.

Chief Investigators: David Hundt, Jessica Walton; Funding: Academy of Korean Studies.

The Democratization of a Rising China through Deliberative Democracy. 

This project aims to study an array of phenomena associated with deliberative democratization in China such as public hearings, citizen meetings, deliberative polling and participatory budgeting.

Chief Investigator: Baogang He; Funding: Australian Research Council.

The Dynamics of Political Party Systems in Africa. 

This project investigates how African party systems have changed over time. It examines how party system change should be conceptualized and measured, and the consequences of stable and unstable party systems for economic performance and the quality of democracy in this region.

Chief Investigator: Zim Nwokora.

Security, Conflict and Political Violence

The Securitization of Climate Change. 

This project examines the ways in which climate change has recently been articulated as a security issue. It examines the different contexts in which this securitisation has occured and explores the implications of this for climate change mitigation and adaptation and national, collective and human security.

Chief Investigator: Peter Ferguson.

The Politics of Heritage Destruction in the Middle East. 

This project examines the various political ideologies driving the destruction of heritage sites in the Middle East from the Iraq War of 2003 through to the rise of the ‘Islamic State’.

Chief Investigator: Benjamin Isakhan; Funding: Australian Research Council, Department of Defence.

Theorising China’s Rise in/beyond International Relations.

This project examines the extent to which existing International Relations theories are useful in accounting for China’s rise and the challenges it poses to international order.

Chief Investigators: Chengxin Pan, Emilian Kavalski (ACU); Funding: Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation.

Comparative Politics and Policy

Australian Education Unions and Education Policy. 

This project looks at how the Australian Education Union has resisted neoliberalism when governments use auditing technologies to implement a “social” version of neoliberal public policy.

Chief Investigator: Andrew Vandenberg; Funding: Australian Research Council and the Australian Council of Trade Unions.

Northern European Social Policy Lessons for Australia. 

This project examines the success of various northern European social policies and the extent to which Australia can adopt them, including: better urban and workplace design; and greater emphasis on criminal rehabilitation.

Chief Investigator: Andrew Scott; Funding: Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU), Jobs Australia.

Asylum Challenges in the Asian Region.

This project examines how policymakers in Southeast Asia perceive the challenge of forced migration in the region, their strategies for progress, and the constraints they face in working towards their goals.

Chief Investigator: Amy Nethery; Funding: Deakin Central Research Grant Scheme.

Political Participation and Activism

Australian Foreign Policy and Public Opinion. 

This project examines Australian public opinion towards defence and foreign policy from the mid-twentieth century to the present day. It combines in-depth qualitative examinations of Australian debates around key foreign policy issues with a wide range of survey data.

Chief Investigator: Danielle Chubb and Ian McAllister (ANU).

The Power of the G20. 

This project examines the role of power and legitimacy in the operation of the G20 (Group of Twenty) as a form of global governance. This project considers the influence and impact of civil society on the G20 and prospects of civil society in making the G20 more accountable and effective.

Chief Investigator: Steven Slaughter.

Detained Asylum Seekers and Social Media. 

This project examines the ways in which social media has facilitated an ‘insiders’ picture of detained asylum seekers, who are made invisible in public debate, and how such self-directed representation may constitute a form of agency and resistance.

Chief investigators: Amy Nethery and Maria Rae.