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Congratulations to Our 2018 Honours Research Fellows!

We are proud to congratulate our three amazing 2018 Honours Research Fellows, Alice Simpson-Young, Anja Bless and Patrick Cain, who each received First Class Honours for their work this year.

SEI Honours Fellows Anja Bless (left), Patrick Cain (centre), Alice Simpson-Young (right).

All three Honours Fellows were students in the Department of Government and International Relations, and each of their diverse honours theses contributed highly original analysis and research to their fields. Read more about their work below, along with the biggest personal lessons they have learned over the past year with SEI.


Alice Simpson-Young, Honours in the Department of Government and International Relations: ‘Equal Participation for All’: A study of environmental justice and vulnerability in the Resilient Melbourne and Resilient Sydney Strategies. 

This project examined City Resilience Strategies in Sydney and Melbourne through an environmental justice lens These strategies were developed to prepare cities for climate change impacts and other stresses. Alice’s pioneering analysis found that there was a very limited consideration of embedded power structures in the City Resilience Framework itself, and thus, underlying social drivers of risk and vulnerability were left unaddressed.

Ultimately, Alice demonstrated that a procedurally-unjust strategy-development process means that resulting actions will be distributively unjust, as this quote from one of her interview subjects articulates, “A chain is only as strong as its weakest link and so if you have a community that’s really vulnerable, you haven’t got a resilient city”.

Alice, what was the biggest lesson you learnt this year?

I learnt it’s important to give yourself space from your research and thesis writing sometimes. Taking a few days to allow your brain to process everything you have been readings and hearing helps the arguments form. Talking through my thoughts with others also really helped. I also learnt the importance of setting strict deadlines, maintaining habits, keeping active and social.

Anja Bless, Honours in the Department of Government and International Relations: Addressing the Impacts of Red Meat Consumption: Lessons from Australia’s Tobacco Control Regime

In spite of the demonstrated negative impacts red meat consumption is having on public health and the environment, this issue is largely absent from environmental politics literature. Anja’s thesis addressed this gap by considering potential policy mechanisms to curb red meat consumption, barriers these policies might face, and how these could be overcome. Anja conducted a comparative analysis between Australia’s tobacco control regime and red meat consumption. Her analysis demonstrated a gradual shift in consumer patterns, opening windows for further policy reform, and highlights the essential roles of awareness-raising, cohesive policy networks, and a gradual increase in interventionism for ensuring long-term policy regime success.

Anja, what was the biggest lesson you learnt this year?

The value of a good workspace! I can’t stress enough how much it helped to have a place that was just dedicated to study – a clean, large and (relatively) organised desk in a quiet space where my brain knew it was time to focus. And, when I was finished for the day, being able to leave the desk behind and live my life outside of Honours. Having the company of the SEI staff and Honours Fellows also helped a lot, not to mention a constant supply of tea!

Patrick Cain, Honours in the Department of Government and International Relations: Urban Climate Politics, Multilevel Governance and Political Actors: Climate Action in a Constraining Political Structure

In Australia, an increasingly decentralised and diffused multilevel governance system (from local stakeholders to state and federal government) informs and structures the political responses to climate change. The effects of climate change itself manifests at a variety of geographical scales, further compounding the issue of decentralised governance and efficacy of localised policy. Patrick’s thesis looked at local governments in Sydney and Melbourne in a case study to investigate the discourse of climate change policy, and to understand how well resourced local governments in a traditionally subordinating federal system are capable of exercising influence over other agents in response to climate change.

Patrick, what was the biggest lesson you learnt this year?

Your friends and honours cohort are your biggest asset. They don’t just provide another set of eyes for proof reading and for alternative perspectives that might help you solve that academic puzzle that’s keeping you up late at night, although that’s a wonderful bonus! The best thing about your cohort is that they will believe in you far more than you will. Once you get to the nitty gritty of writing your thesis in second semester, even despite your best efforts, it can very quickly become quite isolating. When you hit an obstacle, it can sometimes become bigger than you alone can handle. Knowing that there are other people you can turn to, to vent, to complain, to commiserate, and finally, to celebrate and congratulate, is a very precious thing. Understanding the solidarity of a research community, and remembering that you aren’t alone, has been the most important and best thing that has come from this process.


We are so excited to see what the future holds for these three talented young scholars, and we wish them all the best in their future endeavours. SEI will be announcing our new cohort of 2019 Honours Fellows in the New Year.