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.
‘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.
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.
Digby James Wren
Research Themes and Projects:
Democracy & Democratic Transitions
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.
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 occurred and explores the implications of this for climate change mitigation and adaptation and national, collective and human security.
Chief Investigator: Peter Ferguson.
Comparative Politics & Policy
The Comparative Network on Refugee Externalisation Policies
This project will develop an international network of scholars to examine and compare refugee externalisation policies in Australia and the EU.
Chief Investigator: Dr Amy Nethery
Funding: Jean Monnet Activities - Erasmus+ Program
Based on case studies in Australia, Kenya and Papua New Guinea, the project aims to better understand how different forms of recognition shape relations between Indigenous people and people in positions of relative privilege.
Funding: Australian Research Council Discovery Indigenous Project
The Finnish approach to education recognises that many young people have vocational aptitudes that are not best fostered in a standard academic environment. This project aims to assist Australia to learn from Finland’s attainment of excellence with equity in its post-school educational institutions.
Chief Investigator: Andrew Scott.
Funding: The Australia Institute.
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 policy.
Deakin Chief Investigator: Andrew Vandenberg
Funding: Australian Research Council Linkage Project with the Australian Council of Trade Unions.
Political Participation & 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.
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.
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.
Deakin Chief Investigator: Chengxin Pan.
Funding: Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation.
This project examines the ways in which animals are instumentalised to project an image of a racially pure Hindu nation through conflict, marginalisation and violent exclusions in India.
Deakin Chief Investigator: Yamini Narayanan.
Funding: Australian Research Council Discovery Project.
Security, Conflict & Political Violence
This project will conduct research assessing the impact of regional actors in the ongoing conflicts in Syria and Afghanistan, which are estimated to have led to the deaths of more than 600,000 people. The first study of its kind to investigate the full involvement of regional patrons in the proxy conflicts, this project will work closely with international partners and policymakers in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Funding: Carnegie Corporation of New York
Tackling hate crimes
This project aims to establish a comprehensive and robust evidence-base to assist in developing strategies and policies for the mitigation of hate crimes and hateful extremism. It aims to build capacity in agency collection methods and improve data collected by government and non-government agencies to better understand and address related issues.
Strengthening Everyday Peace Formation in the ‘Rohingya’ Conflict,
This project operationalises the concept of everyday peace, a model describing the emergence of bottom-up peace, to bring pairs of Rohingya and Rakhine villages together in bottom-up community development practice - relying on novel arts-based pedagogy, and tests the efficacy of the programme over 3 years.
Funding: Private Philanthropic Fund.
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 DECRA Project and the Australian Department of Defence.
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