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Engaging with think tanks

Engaging with think tanks

A seminar from the Alfred Deakin Institute’s Governance, Development and Peace research stream.

Think tanks come in all shapes and sizes but there is a global acknowledgement of the role that they play through their research and advocacy in shaping policies at national and international levels. According to an estimate, there are well over 6,000 think tanks in the world with the most influential being based in North America and Europe. While the number of think tanks is growing globally, these institutions have become more important in terms of not just jobs but also research collaborations. The aim of this seminar is to focus on how HDRs and ECRs can engage with think tanks to learn more about enhancing the impact of their research in terms of shaping policies. Among us at the ADI, we have colleagues with rich experience of working and engaging with think tanks from different parts of the world. Our speakers will share their insights and tips for building research narrative and track record into one that is invaluable for the think tank community in Australia and beyond.




Dr Dara Conduit is an Alfred Deakin Postdoctoral Research Fellow in political science at the Alfred Deakin Institute for Citizenship and Globalisation, and a Non-Resident Scholar in the Syrian program at the Middle East Institute in Washington D.C., Dara’s research interests centre around authoritarianism, with a regional focus on the Middle East, especially Syria. Dara’s work has been widely published in journals including Democratization and Political Geography, and her book, The Muslim Brotherhood in Syria, was published by Cambridge University Press in 2019. She is a regular media commentator, and has participated in consultation meetings for the UN Economic and Social Commission for West Asia’s (UNESCWA) Future of Syria Programme and provided advice to the UN OHCHR’s Working Group on Mercenaries. Her work has been cited in UN reports, and she is co-convenor of the women Middle East researchers in Australia network (WoMENA).



Lydia Khalil is a Policy Fellow at ADI, and a Research Fellow at the Lowy Institute, Australia’s premier international relations think tank. Prior to her work in Australia, Lydia has held senior national security policy roles in both state and federal level US government agencies. Lydia has held an international affiars fellowship at the Council on Foreign Relations, as well a publication and events record with other international think tanks including the Brookings Institution, Centre for Conflict and Peace Studies (CAPS) in Afghanistan, Freedom House and the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI)

Greg Barton is Research Professor in Global Islamic Politics in the Alfred Deakin Institute for Citizenship and Globalisation, Deakin University where, since August 2015, he has led research on Islam and civil society, democratisation, and countering violent extremism. From 2007 to 2015 he was the Herb Feith Professor at Monash University where he led research on radicalisation in the Global Terrorism Research Centre (GTReC). He taught at the Asia Pacific Center for Security Studies in Honolulu from 2006 to 2007, and at Deakin University from 1992 to 2006. He is a Senior Fellow with the UAE-based Hedayah Center in Abu Dhabi working on CVE. Greg is one of Australia’s leading scholars of both modern Indonesia and of terrorism and countering violent extremism. The central axis of his research interests is the way in which religious thought, individual believers and religious communities respond to modernity and to the modern nation state. He also has a strong general interest in international relations and comparative international politics.

Zahid Shahab Ahmed is a research fellow at Alfred Deakin Institute for Citizenship and Globalization, Deakin University, Australia. Prior to that, he was an Assistant Professor at Centre for International Peace and Stability, National University of Sciences and Technology in Pakistan. For nearly fifteen years, he has worked with various think tanks in different capacities. During 2006-08, he worked with Germany’s Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES) on conflict transformation and democratization in Asia. In the 2016 Global Go to Think Tank Index Report, FES was ranked 17. Through research awards, he also worked with South Asia’s prominent think tanks, e.g. Regional Centre for Strategic Studies (Sri Lanka) and Women in Security, Conflict Management and Peace (India). He is a member advisory board in Pakistan’s premier think tank ‘Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad’, and a board/executive member of the International Peace Research Association (IPRA) Foundation. Dr Ahmed is also the secretary of the South Asian Studies Association of Australia.

Find out more about ADI’s Governance, Development and Peace Stream here.


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