Who we are
Established in 1996 and funded in partnership by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and ANU, the Department of Pacific Affairs (DPA) – formerly the State, Society and Governance in Melanesia Program – is the leading international centre for applied multidisciplinary research and analysis concerning contemporary governance issues in Melanesia and the broader Pacific. Situated within the Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs, DPA seeks to set the international standard for scholarship on the region.
DPA comprises over 60 research active scholars, with a staffing profile of 21 academics, supported by 15 visiting fellows and 30 PhD scholars. Over the past decade the unit has evolved into a fully integrated university department, undertaking a comprehensive suite of research, education and outreach activities. DPA’s strengths lie in its critical mass of expertise and knowledge, the applied and long-term nature of its research, its extensive engagement with policy communities in the region, its demonstrated commitment to research training and research capacity building, and its position within a leading international university.
Our staff, students and visiting fellows have academic backgrounds in political science, anthropology, geography, human geography, law, gender studies and development studies. Individually and collaboratively, DPA researchers are engaged in high-quality policy-relevant research on our immediate region. Our staff have all lived, worked and researched there for long periods of time — undertaking fieldwork, teaching in universities, working at research institutes, and working for and advising regional governments, donor agencies and non-government organisations. It is through such long-term engagement that DPA researchers have attained deep understandings of the complex social, cultural and political factors that underpin these societies and impact on their development. DPA researchers continue to undertake long-term fieldwork throughout the region.
In October 2017 DPA commenced delivery of the Pacific Research Program (PRP) with the ANU’s Development Policy Centre and the Lowy Institute. The PRP builds on previous support provided by DFAT for Pacific research at ANU (primarily through SSGM). At the same time, it represents change in important ways and in particular through what the Development Policy Centre and Lowy Institute will bring to the program.
What is the Pacific Research Program?
The Pacific Research Program (PRP) is managed by a consortium led by DPA and including the ANU’s Development Policy Centre and the Lowy Institute. Co-funded by DFAT and the consortium partners’ parent bodies, the PRP is designed to be a globally pre-eminent centre of excellence for research on the Pacific that:
- Produces high-quality, policy-relevant research that is available, accessible and communicated to policymakers and program designers in Australia, the Pacific and from around the world;
- Plays a central role in fostering and facilitating a strong and vibrant Pacific-Australia-New Zealand-wide network of research on the Pacific;
- Is connected to Australia’s broader engagement with the Pacific and fosters a greater knowledge and understanding of the Pacific among the Australian community;
- Demonstrates a high degree of effectiveness in contributing to evidence-based policymaking and program design primarily in Australia and also the Pacific and around the world.
The geographic scope of the PRP is the Pacific region as a whole, though Melanesia is an area of particular interest in line with Australia’s geographic location and national interests. The sectoral focus of the PRP is on the intersection of politics, economy and power with the region’s most pressing development challenges.