Making a difference

Image of Pat Bateman, May Samli, Tarsha Gavin, Alice Zheng and Patrick Hurleya

Pat Bateman, May Samali, Tarsha Gavin, Alice Zheng and Patrick Hurley

“The Best and the Brightest” is an annual forum that showcases the depth and variety of research done by IVth Honours students in Government and International Relations. In 2010 it was held in the Parliament House theatre on Macquarie Street. There were five presenters and an audience of more than 100 alumni and friends.

The presentations were followed by a lively Q&A session, then refreshments were served, and in that informal atmosphere discussions continued.

The forum offers the opportunity for alumni to hear and meet some of the year’s outstanding graduating students, while the students value the opportunity to explain their work and to meet alumni.

2010’s presenters were (left to right in the photo):
Pat Bateman, whose thesis, “Explaining Variation in the Role of the Membership in Candidate Selection: A Comparative Study of Political Parties in New South Wales”, is a study of membership behaviour in four New South Wales political parties. It’s a valuable study at a time when the public at large is both disengaged from the political process and disenchanted with political parties.

May Samali, whose thesis, “Venue Shopping, Issue framing, and the United Nations Systems”, examines the factors that determine NGOs’ selection of strategies in pursuit of agenda and policy change. May applied it to the Baha’i International Community’s campaign to end the persecution of Baha’is in Iran.

Tarsha Gavin, whose thesis, “Participatory Governance and the Policy-making Process A study of community engagement in the Minto Public Housing Estate Renewal Project” is an in-depth study of the complex dynamics and trajectory of community engagement within the Minto Project in NSW.

Alice Zheng, whose thesis, “Narrating the nation: the making of ethnic minorities in China’s northwest”, seeks to illuminate the Chinese state’s interpretation of civil unrest in Xinjiang province as Uyghur ethno-nationalist separatism that threatens the stability and unity of China. This view is produced by the Chinese state in writing the Chinese nation, drawing upon the materials of imperial Chinese history, which is predominantly the history of the Han Chinese, while ethnic minorities are “non-Chinese”.

Patrick Hurley, whose thesis, “Making Ideas Matter: The Think Tank Phenomenon in Australia”, examines the proliferation of independent public policy research institutes, commonly known as think tanks, over the past three decades. In addition to the increases in their numbers, budgets, staff and the range of activities in which they are involved, think tanks are now widely regarded as having a significant influence on the policymaking process. Nevertheless, they remain a vaguely understood area within political science.

The forum is organised by the External Advisory Committee of the Department of Government and International Relations. The next is scheduled for 3 May 2011, in the same venue. For more information contact Emeritus Professor Michael Jackson