Professor John Keane

John Keane was born in South Australia and educated at the University of Adelaide, the University of Toronto and Cambridge University, John Keane is Professor of Politics at the University of Sydney and at the Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin (WZB). John Keane is also Director of OnDemocracy at the University of Sydney. During his many years in Britain, The Times ranked him one of the country’s leading political thinkers and recognised him as a writer whose work has ‘world-wide importance’. His research areas include:

  • The past, present and future of representation and democracy;
  • Antarctica, globalisation and the future of global governance;
  • Public life, communicative abundance and cross-border journalism;
  • Early modern and contemporary conceptions of civil society and government;
  • Fear and politics

His The Media and Democracy has been translated into over 25 languages and The Life and Death of Democracy was shortlisted in the 2010 Prime Minister’s Non-Fiction Literary Award.

Role: Director
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Dr. Giovanni Navarria

Giovanni's research interests include the relationship between authoritarian regimes in Asia and the language and tactics of democracy; the role new communication media have in politics; the meaning of representation and the role of civil society in contemporary democracies. He is currently working on a project focusing on the effects communication media have on prevailing power-dynamics between state and citizens in the authoritarian regimes of the Asia-Pacific region. He is also completing a book exploring the changing meanings of power and civic engagement in technologically advanced societies. In the past eight years he has lived and worked in London and Berlin. During 2012 he was a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at the Social Science Research Center of Berlin. Dr. Navarria holds a PhD in Politics from the University of Westminster, United Kingdom, and a Degree in Philosophy from the University of Catania, Italy.

Role: Postdoc
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Dr Naser Ghobadzadeh

Naser Ghobadzadeh lectures at the Department of the Government and I.R., the University of Sydney. He completed his PhD on political Islam and the state in Iran at the University of Sydney. He has worked as editor-in-chief of the foreign policy service at the Iranian Students’ News Agency (ISNA), communication officer with the UNDP and head of the Information Resource Centre (IRC), UNICEF office in Tehran.

Naser’s Master’s thesis was awarded by the Ministry of Science (Iran) as the best dissertation at the 2003 Annual Festival of the Best Research. His book A Study of People’s Divergence from Ruling System scrutinises value changes and their impact on Iran’s politico-religious mosaic. His articles have been published in internationally refereed journals such as Democratization, Commonwealth & Comparative Politics, Philosophy & Social Criticism and Discourse. Researching at the intersection of religion and politics, Naser’s interests lie in the study of political Islam, state-religion relations, secularism and Middle East and Iranian politics.

Role: Associate
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Dr Tim Soutphommasane

Tim joined IDHR in February 2013. His research interests as a political philosopher include patriotism, multiculturalism, citizenship and social democracy. His publications include Reclaiming Patriotism (Cambridge University Press, 2009), The Virtuous Citizen (Cambridge University Press, 2012), Don’t Go Back To Where You Came From (New South Books, 2012) and All That’s Left (co-editor, New South Books, 2010).

Prior to joining the Institute for Democracy and Human Rights, Dr Soutphommasane was a lecturer at the National Centre for Australian Studies, Monash University. He is a fellow of Per Capita and St James Ethics Centre, and a chief investigator on an ARC Linkage project studying the history of Anzac Day.

A regular commentator on public issues, Dr Soutphommasane is a columnist with The Age and sits on the boards of the National Australia Day Council and the Australian Multicultural Council. His thinking on patriotism, diversity and national identity has been influential in reshaping debates in Australia and Britain. He is an honours graduate of the University of Sydney and completed his postgraduate studies at the University of Oxford, where he was a Commonwealth Scholar.

Role: Postdoc
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Nick Rowley

Nick currently works as a strategic policy consultant to a mix of business and NGO clients in Australia and overseas. Over the past fifteen years, Nick has worked at the centre of government on sustainability, climate change and broader policy and political strategy in Australia and the UK. In these roles he has developed new and innovative policy approaches in a number of areas from the funding of cutting-edge medical research, protecting public lands bordering Sydney Harbour to helping establish the seminal Stern Review into the Economics of Climate Change.
As a Founding Director of Kinesis, a bespoke climate change advisory and systems development firm, Nick was the Strategic Director of the Copenhagen Climate Council: an affiliation of climate scientists, business CEOs and policy practitioners brought together to make the case for a more adequate global climate treaty in 2009.

From March 2004 to January 2006, Nick worked at 10 Downing Street as an advisor to Prime Minister Tony Blair. In this role he oversaw all domestic and international climate policy and was part of a small team advising the British Prime Minister on climate change prior to the G8 Summit at Gleneagles in July 2005. While at Downing Street he was involved in early discussions in 2005 about the potential of establishing a series of leaders debates in the UK.
From 1995 to 2004 Nick was advisor to Bob Carr, Premier of NSW (now Australian Foreign Minister), working primarily on policy on the environment, urban development and medical research.

As a Visiting Research Fellow at IDHR Nick's work concentrate on how to achieve more effective public engagement and debate prior to Australian elections through more effective Prime Ministerial televisions debates supported and enhanced by new media.

Role: Current Visiting Fellow
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Peter Fray

Peter is one of the Asia-Pacific’s most respected and experienced media professionals, having been the editor or editor-in-chief of four metropolitan mastheads, including The Sydney Morning Herald, The Canberra Times and The Sunday Age. He is also the former publisher of the Herald, the Sydney flagship of the Fairfax Media group. He is now engaged in several digital start-ups, consulting to established media companies and serving on two not-for-profit boards – Choice, the consumers’ watchdog, and The Australian Science Media Centre. The Adelaide-based centre is dedicated to improving the knowledge base of the working media about science.

His appointment as visiting Professor of Politics and Media at the University of Sydney will see him build on his work on audience engagement and public accountability started in 2011 as the First Decade Fellow at Meco. The fellowship culminated in a public keynote speech at the university in November 2011.

Peter’s 28-year career in journalism has seen him develop skills and experience across a range of subject areas and professional disciplines. Aside from his time in the editor’s chair, he has reported on politics, religion, food security, science, the environment, international affairs, national affairs and agriculture and been a deputy editor, a news editor, a features editor, a foreign correspondent and a hopeless gossip columnist. Under his leadership the SMH was named the best newspaper in the Asia-Pacific region in consecutive years (2009, 2010) by the Pacific Area Newspaper Publishers Association and enhanced its reputation for investigative and advocacy journalism. Peter is deeply committed to exploring the potential of digital platforms to monitor and develop democracy and related institutions – and will use his time at IDHR to examine, critique and develop various methodologies to that end. This will serve as an academic counterpoint to a political fact-checking project Peter plans to introduce to Australia in time for the next federal election.

He will also use his time with IDHR to assist other fellows in the field of media and public accountability in the Asia-Pacific region.
Peter is a part-time theatrical producer whose projects this year include The Hansard Monologues, a new work that will examine the current Australian federal parliament, the first led by a woman. It is expected to open at Sydney’s Seymour Centre mid-year and tour to Wollongong and Western Sydney. He is a performed playwright and published author (The Vanishing Continent, with Bob Beale, 1990).

Role: Current Visiting Fellow
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Jan Zielonka

The Institute for Democracy and Human Rights (IDHR) is delighted to welcome its new distinguished Visiting Fellow, Professor Jan Zielonka. Professor Zielonka will be working with the Institute’s OnDemocracy program, which looks at the subject of cross-border chains of power and the political task of re-imagining democracy in the fast-changing circumstances of the 21st century. Jan Zielonka is currently Professor of European Politics at the University of Oxford and a Ralf Dahrendorf Professorial Fellow at St Antony’s College. His previous appointments included posts at the University of Warsaw, Leiden and the European University Institute in Florence. He teaches European Politics and Society in Oxford and directs a large international project funded by the European Research Council on the Media and Democracy in Central and Eastern Europe. He has produced seventeen books, including five single-authored monographs, and more than a hundred articles and chapters in the field of Comparative Politics, International Relations and Political Theory. His current work analyses the politics of European integration and disintegration. His latest book is entitled Europe as Empire. The Nature of the Enlarged European Union (Oxford University Press, 2006).

David Ritter

David returned to his homeland from London to take the top job at Greenpeace Australia Pacific in 2012. He brings with him a wealth of experience campaigning for environmental and social justice issues over the past two decades. After more than ten years as a lawyer, he moved to England and joined Greenpeace UK in London, where he worked on global issues such as destructive fishing, deforestation and climate change. David graduated from university just after the Mabo decision and joined the fight for native title. He made his mark in the north west of Western Australia where battles of native title were being fought and huge negotiations with mining companies were underway.

While at IDHR, David will explore how civil society can connect with other actors to enhance social and environmental outcomes in Australia and internationally, and to engage with other members of the institute, as well as thought leaders elsewhere within academia, business, government and the media in relation to these matters.  He hopes to investigate how legal and political systems can respond to the democratic challenge posed by climate change and other environmental crises.  In particular, he is interested in questions associated with the social and environmental impact of the international coal trade; the impacts of unsustainable fishing practices in the oceans surrounding Australia; efforts to reduce emissions from deforestation in Indonesia and global concerns in relation to the potential industrialisation of the Arctic.

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