The mission of the Centre is to promote the study of Australian politics through a program of teaching, research and wider public discussion about Australian politics.
The Centre’s strategy for carrying out this mission includes:
- innovative teaching for undergraduate and graduate students
- excellent research distributed through the best peer-reviewed publishers
- public discussion through conferences and contemporary media
The Centre’s aim is to increase the level of high quality teaching, research and public comment on Australian politics, drawing in the first instance from the ANU political science community, including younger academics and research students with fresh perspectives on ways of studying Australian political practices.
The Centre’s ambition is to become the acknowledged international ‘clearinghouse’ for the study of Australian politics:
- its teaching helping to deepen students understanding of Australian politics
- its research enriching the repertoire of ways to interpret Australian politics
- its events helping to set the agenda for public understanding of Australian politics
- its web site serving as the first ‘portal of call’ for those searching for resources to promote the study of Australian politics.
Advancing the study of Australian politics is nothing new to the ANU political science community. The School of Politics and International Relations merges the combined strengths of the former Departments of Political Science in the Faculty of Arts (founded in 1949) and in the Research School of Social Science (founded in 1951). The Centre is well-placed to build on the remarkable legacy of those past leaders of these two former academic departments who include many of the most notable names in Australian political science:
Don Aitkin. Frank Castles, L F Crisp, Barry Hindess, Robert Parker, Gordon Reid, Rod Rhodes, Marian Sawer, Nancy Viviani, John Wanna, and John Warhurst, to name only a few who have held leadership posts.
Promoting ‘the study of’ Australian politics is intellectually challenging. Many observers fear that the quality of political debate in Australia is depressingly low. Other commentators claim that Australian politics is dull and uninspiring. Even many political experts fail to find adequate sources of robust critical analysis. The Centre wants to make the study of Australian politics itself a matter of serious political interest.
A distinctive feature of the Centre is this focus on ‘the study of’ Australian politics: focusing on the range of different analytical frameworks used to investigate and interpret political life in Australia, including the different approaches to the practice of politics used by political activists in and out of the mainstream of conventional politics.
Although the study of politics is one of the oldest of human inquiries, no one method or technique can claim the privilege as ‘the one best way’ to examine political life. The Centre brings together many distinctive approaches to the study of politics in the hope that each can reveal something of value in the various ways that politics is practiced in Australia.
The Centre’s activities will help to stimulate deeper reflection on the nature of political life in Australia and on the many forms of political analysis appropriate to Australian political activities. The study of politics is not solely of academic interest, and so the Centre will help stimulate wider community deliberation over the strengths and limitations of typically Australian approaches to politics.
A copy of the Centre Business Plan can be found here.