Tuesday 27 Sep 2022 | 16:58 | SYDNEY
Tuesday 27 Sep 2022 | 16:58 | SYDNEY

Calling our young strategic minds


Rory Medcalf


31 July 2012 09:44

Applications are now open for the 2011-12 Michael and Deborah Thawley Scholarship in international security at the Lowy Institute. The closing date is 10 August.

The Scholarship as an exceptional opportunity for any emerging Australian strategic thinker – such as a junior official or postgraduate student – to take part in the work of two leading think tanks dedicated to generating original and policy-oriented ideas and research on world affairs. For a first-hand sense of what is involved, here are some observations from last year's Thawley scholar, Australian Defence official Esther Sainsbury:

The scholarship provided a valuable opportunity to develop my understanding of relations between the US and Australia, our mutual interests, possible areas of divergence and, as a young professional in the Australian Defence Department, to consolidate my research interests and professional experience.

The scholarship allowed for research at the Lowy Institute before being posted to Washington DC as a visiting researcher with the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). Working with internationally renowned Australian and American policy thinkers at the forefront of international research was a unique experience with many highlights, one of which was working with leading Southeast Asia expert Ernest Bower, Director of the CSIS Southeast Asia Program.

At CSIS I pursued my own research while concurrently working with Mr Bower’s team to establish a new CSIS research initiative, the Pacific Partnership Initiative.

Other highlights included observing a CSIS forum at Blair House with New Zealand Prime Minister John Key, meeting Henry Kissinger, delivering a short presentation to the CSIS Defense Industrial Initiatives Group on Australian defence capability development processes, and conducting private interviews with prominent Asia specialists such as Stapleton Roy, former US Ambassador to China, and Frank Januzzi, Senior East Asia Adviser for the Democratic staff of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Lowy Institute and CSIS teams extended invitations to a number of interesting events and activities, including the 2011 CSIS US-Indonesian Executive Training Program, an intensive, week-long curriculum including a series of seminar-style lectures and discussions led by experts, academics, and senior US government officials. Highlights of the program included briefings with Australian Ambassador Kim Beazley, US government leaders in diplomacy, national security, trade, and other sectors, former Deputy Secretary of State and Defense Richard Armitage, CSIS president and CEO Dr John Hamre, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and the Pacific Dr Kurt Campbell, and a dialogue with Senate Foreign Relations Committee staff.

The Program also allowed me to exercise my Indonesian language skills, meet foreign officials and receive a special invitation to dine at the Indonesian Embassy, where I was kindly received by Ambassador Dr Dino Patti Djalal and his wife Rosa Rai Djalal.

By living and working in Washington DC, I learnt much about US strategic perceptions, history, society, economics, politics and culture that I would not have been able to fully understand otherwise. The Scholarship enabled me to meet a broad range of young Australian and American security thinkers and practitioners, and I look forward to maintaining these personal and professional ties into the future.