University hosts Oceania's largest conference on international relations

18 July 2012

The Oceanic Conference on International Studies (OCIS) commences today with a keynote speech from Professor Michael C Williams from the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Ottawa, in conjunction with Sydney Ideas.

As an opening to Australia's largest conference on international relations, Professor Williams will explain the intellectual challenges that this academic discipline will face in light of the changing liberal order.

Citing the rise of China, the impact of the economic crisis on core parts of the world economy, most notable Europe, and the rise of revolutionary political and religious movements such as those in the Middle East and North Africa as the key challenges, Professor Williams explains, "Taken as a whole, these three sets of issues - along with a very high degree of political polarisation in the US - pose fundamental and difficult challenges for a liberal world order, whether one supports that order or not.

"As a field, international relations has long tended towards a state-centrism that is quite limited in coming to terms with many of these dynamics. New work in political economy, in the cultural dimensions of world politics, and in shifting security dynamics is helping move beyond these limits but there is a great deal of work to do," he says.

OCIS will feature an extensive program of presentations from an even split of postgraduate candidates and scholars from both Australia and overseas.

The expansive array of topics being covered include, but are not limited to, Australia's role in the United Nations Security Council, Asia-Pacific security, the Occupy movement, and government-business relations in an era of climate instability.

Organising Committee Chair Dr Susan Park believes that it is demand as well as the wide scope of the discipline that has incited a need for forums such as OCIS.

"The origins of this conference came from the ongoing increase in the number of scholars in this area, and a significant growth in student interest in international studies," says Dr Park.

The University of Sydney is hosting this fifth biennial conference on the Camperdown Campus, and it has been previously held in Canberra, Melbourne, Brisbane and most recently, Auckland.

"OCIS remains the key event for building our intellectual community," says Dr Park.

Professor Michael Williams agrees: "OCIS is in my view an absolutely crucial venue for the exploration of the transforming nature of world politics. Standing outside the Euro-Atlantic area geographically, and to some degree analytically, provides a vital opportunity for thinking creatively about the dynamics and challenges that are reshaping international politics."

Keynote address details

What: Liberal Order in the Face of the Future: Insights from the 'IR enlightenment' 

When: 5 to 6.30pm, Wednesday 18 July

Where: Eastern Avenue Auditorium, Camperdown Campus

Cost: Free

Conference details

What: Oceanic Conference on International Studies (OCIS) 

When: 8.15am to 6pm, Thursday 19 and Friday 20 July

Where: New Law Building, Camperdown Campus

Conference registration is now closed

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