Allison Kephart

Allison Kephart graduated with a Master of International Relations (Advanced).

Allison Kephart completed a Master of International Relations (Advanced) in 2019. She chose her degree because it broadly applies across a wide variety of fields, including security, humanitarianism, and diplomacy.

“Through my degree, I analysed issues that make the newspapers and policy reports every day, topics like the rise of populism and authoritarianism, the decline of the current world order, the consequences of the spread of fake news and misinformation, the security risks of global pandemics, analysis of world leaders’ decision-making, and the power of global activism”.

Why the Australian National University (ANU)? Allison believes that ANU is a uniquely perfect setting to study International Relations with a lens towards one of the fastest-growing regions in the world. “The Australian government has a practical working relationship with Asia, while a huge number of regional leaders filter through Canberra and frequently attend ANU events and lectures”, says Allison.

She emphasises that ANU has some foremost experts on the region and the political, economic, and strategic implications of regional trends and changes.

“I knew that studying International Relations at ANU would put me in classes with top students from across the region and around the world, focusing on regional issues from a perspective beyond strict academic boundaries and often including students’ direct experiences working with governments across Asia and the Pacific”

“Doing a Master of International Relations at The Australian National University opened up these opportunities to me, enabled me to feel informed, prepared, and capable of actively taking part during each of them, and ultimately allowed me to connect closely with other likewise internationally-minded individuals from across the country, throughout Asia and the Pacific region, and around the world”.

As someone who hopes to work throughout Asia and the Pacific as a future career path, it was invaluable to get such a multifaceted understanding of the region through both my coursework and the political exposure provided by being in Canberra and amongst students from across the region.

Allison’s favourite course was Global Security with Cecilia Jacob. “I enjoyed analysing the centricity of non-traditional notions of security to more traditional understandings of regional and global politics; how subjects like climate change, gender, and health are often involved in issues like terrorism, nuclear threats, and civil war. I finished the subject feeling well-grounded in the global security issues at the heart of the discipline and the areas I hope to work in throughout my career”.

Doing the advanced program allowed Allison to propose, research and write a 15,000-word thesis in her last semester. “I had never done an academic research project this long and I loved the experience, even if it was difficult at times. It was exciting, which sounds like a funny thing to say about an essay. In choosing my subject I collated the knowledge I gained throughout my coursework and set the different topics I was most interested in conversation with each other”.

As a Master of International Relations student, Allison had an array of opportunities. “In my first semester, I was a delegate to ANU Asia-Pacific Week, where I gathered with 80 delegates from around the world and attended high-profile guest lectures, activities, and collaborative projects”.

During her second semester, Allison interned at the Australian Institute of International Affairs (AIIA), a leading Australian think-tank. “I organised and attended a high-level workshop that was a collaboration between the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and the European Union. I contributed to their National Conference where I met well-known academics in my field alongside ambassadors, government officials, and both the Foreign Minister and Shadow Foreign Minister”.

Allison also attended the Harvard Project for Asian and International Relations (HPAIR) in Malaysia, where she was one of 300 delegates from across the world, all gathered to discuss pressing regional issues.

In December 2020, Allison participated in the premier conference in the region for scholars working across all areas of international studies - 9th Biennial Oceanic Conference on International Studies (OCIS) - where she presented her paper as part of a Panel discussion “Contesting World Order”.

“My aspirations have always been to do as much good in the world as I can. I can see myself as a political analyst or advisor to government, global institutions or NGOs going forward, but no matter what I do I want to be using the critical thinking skills I’ve refined throughout my degree”.