Research Networks and Initiatives

The School of Social and Political Sciences has one of the strongest concentrations of social and political science researchers in the Australasian region. Our researchers are actively involved in collaborative research activity, within the school and other areas of the University, and with international research partners and networks.

SSPS Research Initiatives

A number of research initiatives have been established within the school to facilitate interdisciplinary and cross-disciplinary research. The supportive environment created by these initiatives provides a space and time for existing collaborations to flourish, and new opportunities to seed and develop.

Sydney Democracy Network

In the face of new, exciting and dangerous political trends, the Sydney Democracy Network (SDN) is a vibrant and active network of researchers, activists, policy-makers and citizens concerned with the future of democracy. Based at the University of Sydney with a strong focus on the Asia-Pacific region, the SDN aims to foster a broad rethinking of democracy, not only as a form of government but as a way of life committed to greater equality and accountability of power. The SDN offers opportunities for PhD scholarships and three-month student exchanges with its European partner, the WZB Berlin Social Science Centre

The Electoral Integrity Project

As elections have spread to almost every country around the globe, including many non-democracies, the issue of electoral integrity has generated growing concern, catalyzing a new body of research among both the academic and policymaking communities. At the heart of this cutting edge research is the Electoral Integrity Project (EIP), a research collaboration between the University of Sydney and the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. The project focuses on three fundamental questions: When do elections meet international standards of electoral integrity? What happens when elections fail to do so? And what can be done to mitigate these problems? The growing EIP team of international scholars, visiting senior academics and postgraduate students works to sharpen concepts of electoral integrity, to document and analyze the underlying conditions leading to common flaws and electoral malpractices; to understand what consequences flow from these problems for electoral governance, democratic legitimacy, and regime stability; and finally to evaluate the most effective policy interventions and 'what works' to improve electoral standards.

It has been generously supported by many agencies, especially the $2.6m Kathleen Kitzpatrick Laureate Award from the ARC to Professor Pippa Norris in 2011, as well as by the University of Sydney, International IDEA, and at Harvard University by the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation, the Committee on Australian Studies, and the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs. The five year project was officially launched in Madrid in July 2012.