Seamus Dove – My teachers really went above and beyond

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Seamus in Taiwan during a trip in 2022 with the Australian Institute of International Affairs

Seamus Dove, who will receive the Postgraduate Medal for Academic Excellence at July’s graduation ceremony, was blown away by the wonderful courses and teachers when he started studying a Master of Strategic Studies (Advanced). He is the first Master of Strategic Studies (Advanced) student to be awarded the Postgraduate Medal since 2017.

Growing up and largely based in Sydney, Seamus did his undergraduate in combined Law and Arts (majoring in Government and International Relations) at the University of Sydney. He graduated in 2021, but promptly realised that law was not really for him. Feeling a bit lost, Seamus thought about going back to the International Relations (IR) space for postgraduate study, as he had really enjoyed some IR courses during his undergrad.

For Seamus, ANU and the Bell School was a logical next step - he knew many people who had very positive experiences with the school. Everyone Seamus talked to said “if you're going to do international relations, do it at ANU.” Eventually, Seamus chose to do a Master of Strategic Studies because it seemed like a no-brainer in a time of increasing strategic competition.

Seamus still vividly remembers how excited he was in the lectures he attended in first semester, doing the Strategic Studies course convened by Dr Andrew Carr.

Every element of the course, from its content to its administration, was beautifully thought out. It really re-ignited my passion for learning. Coming from a law degree, these classes were so much more participatory and so much more engaging.

For Seamus, there are too many wonderful courses and teachers to mention them all. He particularly enjoyed Asian Strategy and Security: History, Theory and Practice taught by Prof Evelyn Goh. He remembers being just “blown away by her mastery of the content”’, as Prof Goh is one of the finest scholars of Asian history and strategy in the world. Evelyn even facilitated the class to interview a range of experts as part of an assessment. “Evelyn really went above and beyond in the course”, says Seamus.

Seamus was also big fan of Negotiation and Conflict Resolution taught by Dr Benjamin Day and The Resort to Force: Understanding Military Power taught by Dr Jean Bou. Both classes involved real-life, practical experiences and scenarios that simulated diplomatic and strategic conflict. Coming from a law degree which was full of dry lectures and big exams lumped at the end of the term, here at the Bell School Seamus found himself spending time putting his skills into practice with classmates.He says,

What a wonderful way to learn! Why aren't all degrees like this?

At first, Seamus had not really thought about doing the thesis component, which he considered as an 'extra' element that was not of much use. However, he changed his mind after speaking with some of his lecturers, and decided to give it a try.

He is so thankful that he did – while it was a lot of work, he felt it was very rewarding.

Seamus’ thesis focuses on how AI performs in wargames, and he has been awarded the ANU Postgraduate Medal for Academic Excellence. Rewarding indeed.

By the time I submitted I really did feel like an expert in my own little corner of the strategic studies field.

Seamus says that he could not have completed the thesis without Dr Andrew Carr’s generous support. Over time the thesis evolved, thanks to Andrew’s skill in steering him in the right direction, without telling him what to do. At one point, Seamus sent Andrew a 50-page manuscript, and Andrew promptly replied that he was overseas and it might take him a bit of time to respond. Somehow, Andrew was able to get back to him the very next day with feedback full of insightful comments. “He really went above and beyond,” says Seamus.

Seamus came to the Master of Strategic Studies (Advanced) not really knowing what he wanted to do for a career, but with a vague plan to work in government. The completion of the Advanced degree leaves him with a new and very concrete plan – he wants to be an academic. In the future, Seamus plans to do a PhD in his field and then become a lecturer and researcher, inspired by the Bell School academics who taught him over the past few years.

I'm so excited about the path I'm on and what the future holds, and I owe so much to Bell School for helping me find it.

Visit our website for more information on the Master of Strategic Studies at the Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs at ANU.

 

By Jiashu Fang

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