About the department
The Department of International Relations is one of the leading centres for the study of international and global politics in the world, and the only department of its kind in Australia. It is unique in combining the general theoretical and empirical study of international politics with a focus on the Asia-Pacific region. In developing theoretical insights, its researchers reach beyond the Western experience to learn from the rich array of Asian historical and contemporary institutions, processes, and practices. They are attuned to the ways in which changes in state's foreign policies, shifts in the strategic balance of power, evolving international norms and globalisation condition political developments in the Asia-Pacific region and around the world.
The Department benefits greatly from its location in the ANU's College of Asia and the Pacific. It has one of the world's largest concentrations of Asia-Pacific expertise. It has strong links with other units in the University that address aspects of world politics, particularly other units within the College's School of International , Political, and Strategic Studies, the School of Regulation, Justice and Diplomacy, the Crawford School of Public Policy, and the Political Science and International Relations Program in the College of Arts and Social Sciences.
A vibrant research program
The Department currently has twelve academic staff, all of whom are dedicated to advanced research and graduate training. Their expertise covers core areas of the field, particularly international theory, international security, and international political economy, as well as a broad range of other issue areas, including human rights, the environment, people movements, state formation, indigenous peoples, culture and civilization, global civil society, international institutions and organizations, regionalism, human security, alliance politics, and Australian foreign policy. In all of its research the Department seeks to integrate general international theory and the study of global politics with a focus on the international relations of the Asia-Pacific region.
At present, the Department's research program focuses on the nature and sources of continuity and change in global politics, with particular emphasis on the interconnections between human and planetary well-being, the viability and legitimacy of the contemporary system of sovereign states, the development of international institutions, and complex interplay between all of these concerns in the Asia-Pacific region. Within this broad framework, staff are currently engaged in research on the dynamics of alliance politics; American power and world order; the evolution of institutional cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region; the role of rights politics in the development and transformation of the international system; the changing relationship between politics and international law; the connection between state formation and people movements; the nature of humanitarianism and the development of international humanitarian norms; regional environmental governance and human security; the nature and development of cosmopolitan militaries; state and human security in Asia; the development of international society and the rights of indigenous peoples; civil society in transitional states; culture and identity in international relations; the political economy of Northeast Asia; the domestic origins of international financial order; weapons proliferation and security on the Korean Peninsula; the international politics of legitimacy; and the impact of global change on security, development, governance and cultural identity in the South Pacific.
The Department's research expertise is recognized internationally, and its academic staff serve on the editorial boards of many of the world's leading journals and book series. Professor William Tow co-edits the Routledge Security in Asia-Pacific Series. Academic staff have enjoyed considerable success in winning competitive national and international grants.Professor Tow co-directs the ANU's MacArthur Foundation Asia Security Initiative project.
A commitment to excellence in PhD education
The Department is committed to excellence in graduate training. It has long been the premier site in Australia, and one of the leading in the world, for the education of PhD students in international relations, and its graduates have gone on to academic positions around the world, including Chairs at the London School of Economics, the University of Wales at Aberystwyth, Oxford University, and the ANU. Recent PhDs have secured academic positions at the University of Manchester, the University of Birmingham, the University of Nottingham, Copenhagen Business School, the University of Hull, the University of Wales at Aberystwyth, and the University of South Australia. An impressive number of its PhD dissertations have been published as books by leading presses, and many of these have gone on to shape debate within the field. This record of success stems in part from the intellectual diversity and broad ranging expertise of the Department's researchers.
A renowned Graduate Studies in International Affairs program
The Department's commitment to graduate training also finds expression in its internationally regarded Graduate Studies in International Affairs (GSIA) program, which offers a Graduate Diploma in International Affairs, a Master of International Affairs, and the long established Master of Arts in International Relations. The program also offers a specialization in Peace and Conflict Studies taught jointly with the prestigious Peace Research Institute of Oslo. The GSIA program is distinguished by face-to-face seminar teaching with internationally recognized experts in the field.
Because of the Department's broad ranging profile and its capacity to draw on staff from other areas of the University, students can select from a wide variety of courses, spanning everything from 'Global Governance' and 'The Evolution of the International System' to 'Asia-Pacific Security' and 'International Political Economy'. Admission to the Program is competitive, but the returns for students are high. Graduates have gone on to positions in ministries of foreign affairs and government departments across the region, in non-governmental organisations and international organisations, in the private sector, and on to PhD studies at leading universities. The program has a strong and extensive alumni network, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region.
Exciting, new Undergraduate Electives in International Relations
The Department is also committed to delivering excellence in undergraduate teaching. From 2012, ANU students studying in a number of relevant programs can take courses offered by the Department as electives within their own degrees. Students within both the College of Asia & the Pacific (CAP) and the College of Arts & Social Sciences (CASS) will be able to take courses such as International Relations in the Asia-Pacific, US Security Policy in Asia, Indian Foreign and Security Policy and China's New Approaches to Asia Pacific Security.
These courses will appeal to students studying in several programs and majors, including the Bachelor of International Relations or the International Relations major of a Bachelor of Arts (within CASS). They can also be taken within other majors/minors in CAP, such as within: Asia-Pacific Politics; Peace, Conflict & War; Chinese Studies; and Asia-Pacific Security Studies. More information on these courses can be found at the Department's undergraduate studies page.
Our national role
Consistent with the mission of The Australian National University, the Department has long played a national role in advancing the study of international relations in Australia. By educating a significant number of Australian academics in the field, the Department has played a key role in constituting and reconstituting the discipline in this country, and by welcoming Visiting Fellows it has provided opportunities for academics at other universities to have intensive periods of focused research, cultivating their knowledge in new areas, thus enhancing their research productivity, as well as their capacity to teach at the forefront of knowledge. In an effort to connect the Australian scholarly community to the discipline internationally, the Department has been energetic in bringing leading scholars from around the world to spend time at the ANU and to visit other universities. These visits have often been associated with the Department's busy program of conferences and research workshops, the proceedings of which have provided the basis for a vigorous publishing program. These activities, in combination with the Department's broad ranging expertise in the field, have been a magnet for visiting graduate students, with the Department hosting students from across Australia and the world, some of whom come as National Visiting Fellows, some of whom come under Departmental exchange agreements (such as the agreement with the Department of International Relations at Aberystwyth), and others who come as Departmental Visitors. All of this is complimented by the Department's strong commitment to public engagement on issues of national importance, particularly in the areas of the international politics of the Asia-Pacific, Australian foreign policy, multilateralism and international law, and other themes in contemporary global politics. Staff are frequently invited by government agencies to give lectures. Australia's leading journal in the field of international relations, the Australian Journal of International Affairs, has been edited for several periods within the Department.