CISS Research Students

  Dinh Thi Hien (Julia) Luong
 Degree PhD (Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences)
 Supervisor(s) Associate Professor Jingdong Yuan and Dr Thomas Wilkins
 Started 2011
 Full time or part time Full time
 Profile

Ms. Dinh Thi Hien Luong joined the Institute of Strategic Studies and Foreign Policy, Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam, a think-tank of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Vietnam since January 2000. Her major interest and background is on Chinese foreign policy and regionalism in East Asia. She had previously been a visiting research fellow at the Institute of International and Economics Studies, Reitaku University, Japan (2007-2008). She has a B.A. in international relations from Institute of International Relations, Vietnam and an International Master Degree in regional integration from Universiti Malaya and Universidad Autonoma de Madrid. She has written many articles and book reviews with special focus on the roles of regional major state actors.

 Thesis topic/title

Chinese ideational leadership in foreign policy and "harmonious world" concept in the early twenty-first century

 Information about thesis

Ideational leadership has increasingly been considered as important factors in shaping a state's foreign policy and behaviors. It refers to the importance of ideational factor that can generate the essentials needed for leader(s) to project their the power and legitimacy. Chinese ideational factors are arguably rooted in traditional culture and ancient thoughts. As China’s strength has steadily been on an upward trajectory, the questions of what ambitions China attempts to achieve in its global strategy, what kind of power the Chinese leaders believe to be conducive to the accomplishment of their goals, and ultimately how China behaves herself to the rest of the world have aroused growing attention from scholars and policy-makers worldwide.

The first purpose of this study is to evaluate the influence of the Chinese ancient thoughts on the ideational framework of foreign policy. Secondly, this research aims to investigate the origins and implications of the ‘harmonious world’ concept in Chinese foreign policy in the 2002-2012 period under Hu Jintao's leadership. The key question of the research is “to what extent Chinese ancient thoughts can influence Chinese leaders in shaping China’s foreign policy?”

  Jennifer Hunt
 Degree PhD (University of Sydney Business School)
 Supervisor(s) Dr Sarah Phillips
 Started 2010
 Full time or part time Full time
 Profile

A PhD Candidate in the Centre for International Security Studies, Jennifer's research interests include Energy Security, Political Risk, and Regional (Arab Gulf) studies. In 2011, Ms Hunt was a visiting researcher at Sultan Qaboos University in Muscat, Oman where she studied economic diversification and political transition strategies of the Sultanate. She also attended the World Economic Forum's Global Agenda meeting in Abu Dhabi and completed intensive Arabic language study at the Qasid Institute in Amman, Jordan.

Her forthcoming publication, That Late Unpleasantness investigates the impact of regional protests known as the ‘Arab Spring’ on Oman. Excerpts from her research on oil price volatility were presented at Cambridge University’s Gulf Research Council Meeting, and published as a book chapter in 2010. Jennifer earned her Master’s Degree in International Security from the University of Sydney, and her Bachelor's degree in Political Science from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill where she was captain of the Women's Sabre Fencing team. After university she worked in the IT industry in Baltimore before returning to academia.

An American, Jennifer holds a private pilot's license. She teaches in the School of Business, United States Studies Centre, and the Department of Government and International Relations.

 Thesis topic/title

Transition & Stability in the Gulf: A Case Study of Oman

 Information about thesis

As the regional centre of oil supplies, states in the Gulf have relied on hydrocarbon income "rents" for some decades to fund an extensive social contract which facilitates the exchange of political representation for economic benefits. This research investigates the contestation of this social contract, the metaphorical ties that bind citizen to state, and its rentier-style manifestation. Using a case study of a severely understudied member of the region, Oman, it examines progress in maintaining social and political stability in light of changing economic and political imperatives.

  Erin Hurley
 Degree PhD (Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences)
 Supervisor(s) Associate Professor Benjamin Goldsmith &amp Dr Frank Smith
 Started 2012
 Full time or part time Full time
 Profile

Erin came to the University of Sydney after nearly ten years of working within US politics in New York and Washington DC. Her main area of interest is the intersection between domestic politics and national security issues. Erin’s PhD thesis is focused on public support for war and will test key aspects of support through a comparative study of the recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

After receiving her undergraduate degree, Erin worked in a variety of legislative offices, advocacy organisations and political campaigns in New York State and in Washington DC. In 2005, Erin earned a Master of Public Administration (Concentration: National and International Security) from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University and then went to work as a legislative affairs officer in the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization within the US Department of Defense. Since moving to Australia, Erin has worked as business consultant and as a sessional lecturer and tutor in US foreign policy and US politics.

 Thesis topic/title

US Public Support for the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan

 Information about thesis

Erin’s thesis will seek to answer the following question: What factor or set of factors explains the evolution of public support for war? Her thesis will test the dynamics of public support for war through a comparative study of the variation in US public support for the recent wars in Iraq in Afghanistan. Erin is particularly interested in investigating the potential for events to meaningfully influence support given the strength of individual values and political predispositions on policy preferences. This study will advance scholarship on support for war through a longitudinal approach (2001-2012) that considers mass political behaviour over the course of America’s longest wars and will include qualitative and quantitative analysis. 

  Michael Peck 
 Degree  PhD (University of Sydney Business School)
 Supervisor(s)  Dr Leanne Piggott & Dr Tom Wilkins
 Started  2011
 Full time or part time  Full time
 Profile

Michael has a BSc in physics and mathematics, a BA in English literature and drama, and a MIntlSt. His early career was in designing electronics for use in animal behaviour research. After completing an arts degree, this was followed by a career in public radio broadcasting with roles including script editor, programme producer and news reader. More recently he has worked as a consultant in information technology, specialising in Enterprise Content Management and Business Process Management for the banking sector. Michael's research is in energy security and security theory, and his other research interests include energetics and biophysical economics.

 Thesis topic/title Theorising energy security
 Information about thesis

An historical study seeking an explanation for changes observed in the major powers’ oil supply security practices during the 20th century in terms of material contextual factors, particularly geography and technology.

 Chris Baker head shot Christopher Baker
 Degree  PhD (University of Sydney Business School)
 Supervisor(s)  Professor Peter Curson
 Started  2010
 Full time or part time  Part Time
 Profile

Christopher G. Baker has been a PhD candidate at the Centre for International Security Studies (CISS) since 2010. He has a strong research interest in both Asian Political Studies and Environmental Security and has incorporated both of these into his PhD research topic.

Chris has been an important member of the CISS team and has previously been employed as Research Analyst to the former Director of CISS. He was a founding member and leading editor of the CISS “Food Security in Asia” Project sponsored by the MacArthur foundation. Chris has represented CISS at the Council for Security and Cooperation in the Asia Pacific (CSCAP) in Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam, contributing to the development of the CSCAP Water Security Policy formulated for the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF). He has also represented CISS at the International Conference on Asian Food Security, Singapore, contributing to the establishment of the Global Consortium of Food Security Initiatives.

In 2011, Chris won a prestigious Research Fellowship through the Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTS-Asia), travelling to five Southeast Asian countries in the process, researching the impact of hydropower projects on Food and Water Security throughout the region. His paper produced as part of the Fellowship, “Dams, Power and Security in the Mekong: A Non-Traditional Security Assessment of Hydro-Development in the Mekong River Basin”, was released in 2012. His upcoming paper, researching the links between traditional and non-traditional security in fisheries disputes in East Asia, co-written with Professor Alan Dupont of UNSW and the Lowy Institute, is to be published by the Washington Quarterly in early 2014.

Chris also teaches and lectures at the University of Sydney in both the Sydney Business School and the Department of Government and International Relations.

 Thesis topic/title “Environmental Security and the Mekong River Basin: Homer-Dixon Re-assessed.”
 Information about thesis

Environmental Security is one of the most important ‘non-traditional’ security fields to emerge since the end of the Cold War. With concerns growing in the international community regarding environmental destruction, climate change and Food and Water Security, the idea of Environmental Security is a powerful yet, at times, confused notion. The predominant, author on the subject – Thomas Homer-Dixon – has written extensively on the links between environmental scarcities and violent conflict and, although his work has been highly criticised in some circles, it continues to be widely cited when the environment is considered in a security context. This thesis explores the reasons for the longevity of Homer-Dixon’s framework and re-assesses its value to the Environmental Security discourse. It does this through both a thorough exploration of the theory of Environmental Security and by examining it more specifically through the lens of a case study of the Mekong River Basin.