Ten years on from its establishment, the School of Social and Political Sciences is stronger than ever and looking to the future.
On 2 November 2018, the School of Social and Political Sciences (SSPS) marked its 10th anniversary. Colleagues, alumni, and friends of the School gathered in the brand new, purpose-built Social Sciences Building to reflect on the successes of the past ten years and share their visions for the future.
When SSPS was formed in 2008, it united academics from the Departments of Anthropology, Government and International Relations, Sociology and Social Policy, and Australia’s only Department of Political Economy. Ten years on, the School has become a home for over 100 staff members. Its research centres and institutes investigate everything from environmental humanities to social justice and knowledge-building, while research networks examine topics as diverse as cybersecurity, animal advocacy and the biopolitics of science.
This extraordinary growth reflects the importance of the social sciences in making sense of our rapidly changing world. It is a testament to the contemporary relevance of the research being produced within SSPS and its impact on global research agendas.
For Professor Lisa Adkins, who joined SSPS as Head of School in July, 2018, the ten year milestone presents an opportunity to reflect on where we have come from and where we are headed.
“Our first 10 years built the foundations of the School, and now we enter into a new era, one which is firmly focused on the future. We now have the opportunity to consolidate our School identity and truly realise our potential.”
“As a School, we are proud of our commitment to equity and diversity. We have one of the highest concentrations of senior women academics at School level in the University; we are embedding cultural competency in our curriculum; and many of our teaching programmes are dedicated to thinking through how to correct injustices of various kinds. We do well in this space and we aspire to do more.”
United for the first time under one roof in the Social Sciences Building, the School is ushering in a new era of multidisciplinary collaboration. Ground breaking research projects ranging from gender, security and images to multispecies justice are underway; while Dr Anna Boucher and Professor Martijn Konings are taking their research on global migration and the asset economy to the next level as 2019 Sydney Research Accelerator (SOAR) Fellows.
The seventh Historical Materialism Conference will bring researchers together to explore the survival of capitalism; while the inaugural Global Health Security Conference in 2019 will unite multidisciplinary scholars from all around the world to achieve a global vision for health security. The Electoral Integrity Project’s proposed Centre of Excellence on Eroding Democracy and Authoritarian Resurgence has been shortlisted for consideration by the Australian Research Council; the LCT Centre for Knowledge-Building is rapidly expanding its global social impact in education, law enforcement, forensics and wider fields; and the Centre for International Security Studies’ Project Q continues to bring together physicists, philosophers and political scientists to discuss the implications of quantum technologies for peace and security.
Currently ranked 14th globally for social sciences, with the rollout of an exciting new curriculum and seven academic staff recently recognised for teaching excellence, the future for SSPS students looks bright. And with role models like Sophie Hollingsworth (Master of Health Security graduate and founder of AquaAid International) and Alex Houseman and Eleanor Nurse (Political Economy graduates and dairy-free ice-cream entrepreneurs) showing that anything is possible for SSPS students, the next ten years promise to be as innovative and exciting as the last.
Written by Clare Hodgson and photography by José Torrealba
Over the next 3 years, Dr Nicole Wegner will examine popular assumptions about the “ideal soldier” and how cultural myths shape military policies and priorities in Australia and abroad.