No better job than researching national security: Meet Michael Cohen

17 April 2020

Crawford School introduces our fantastic staff, so you can get to meet the people of Asia and the Pacific’s leading graduate policy school.

This time around we hear from Dr Michael Cohen about why he couldn’t imagine a career outside national security, and how he takes pleasure from the small things, like having a coffee, to stay happy in this time of crisis.

1. Why did you choose to work at Crawford?

Crawford School is Australia’s leading scholarly centre for the study of public policy issues facing Australia. The National Security College (NSC) where I work is an especially exciting place to be in 2020 and beyond as it not only has an academic program but also an executive professional development program that we academics can teach into and share our research findings with. Beyond that, the NSC also has a growing futures and related think tank arm that allows further engagement with other audiences. There is never a dull moment at the NSC, and I have engaged with and been exposed to many audiences and networks that would otherwise have been elusive.

2. Can you tell us about your greatest achievement that you reached during your time at Crawford School?

I have only been at Crawford/ANU for slightly over two years, but I have published a journal article in the European Journal of International Relations and another in Asian Security. There’s more in the pipeline!

3. Can you tell us about one of your funniest/most special moments when teaching a class?

I tend to leave my phone in my office when I teach, but once I brought it to class and Siri answered when I asked the class a generic question. Everybody laughed. More recently, during a recent zoom discussion with my 50 odd Masters students where I was in our living room because our shed/study didn’t have WiFi, my 4-year-old daughter almost jumped on my lap and created a BBC-dad moment.

4. If you could go back and choose a different career path, what would it be?

I cannot think of any other career that I’d like nearly as much as my current one. The opportunity to think deeply and carefully about national security issues facing Australia and the world, and to conduct research for other scholars and the general public, is a special privilege. To do so at the NSC at Crawford is a wonderful opportunity.

So, I’m going to answer a slightly different question: If I could do another job/career for one year, what would it be? I’d love to spend one year focusing on personal fitness and playing a lot of cricket.

5. Can you give us your top 3 tips about how to stay positive during the COVID-19 outbreak?

Well, home schooling, home parenting and working has not been easy and often a real challenge. I try to see the opportunity in every challenge. The first tip is to try to appreciate the fact that we have more time with family and loved ones than we have ever had and may ever have. This indeed is not always easy. The second is to be thankful that we live in Canberra/NSW/Australia in these times when many in other countries are doing it much, much tougher. Going for a walk around the neighbourhood in Downer where we live or just to grab a coffee – which thankfully we still are allowed to do – is a great source of joy for me. For me personally, I also derive a lot of satisfaction that at ANU, despite all the challenges that COVID-19 has hit us with, I can still do my teaching, supervise HDR students and attempt to do research.

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Updated:  29 November 2022/Responsible Officer:  Crawford Engagement/Page Contact:  CAP Web Team