For political equality and social justice: Meet Ariadne Vromen

15 June 2020

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

This time, we talk to Professor Ariadne Vromen, who has just started with Crawford School as Sir John Bunting Chair of Public Administration. Ariadne tells us about what she’ll do in her new role, and why we need policy-making partnerships between governments, communities, industry, and universities to address the challenges of today and tomorrow.

Why did you choose to come to Crawford School, and can you tell us a bit about your new role?

I have just started as the new Sir John Bunting Chair of Public Administration in Crawford School, a position that is co-funded by ANU and the Australia and New Zealand (ANZSOG) School of Government. I will lead ANZSOG’s research activities as Deputy Dean (Research), and be a member of Crawford’s Policy and Governance Department. I will focus on research leadership to foster excellence in impactful and applied research, while continuing my existing research program in governance, public administration, and political sociology. Taking up this new position really appealed to me at this stage of my career, as both Crawford and ANZSOG have a genuine commitment to high-quality collaborative applied research, and building partnerships between governments, community and universities. Plus, there are so many people in Crawford doing great research, and I want to be an active part of that community. I also love cold weather so am looking forward to wearing serious winter coats and boots in Canberra.

What is – in your opinion – the most interesting development in your research area?

My research interests are quite diverse, and include: citizen engagement, digital politics and governance, women and the future of work, policy advocacy, and young people and politics. I am about to start an ARC Linkage project ‘Designing Gender Equality into the Future of Work’ that will contrast change and technological disruption in the retail and legal industries. I’m also currently working with long-term collaborators on two books: one on online petitions, citizen engagement and politics; the other on storytelling and policy advocacy.

But underpinning all my research areas is an interest in political equality and social justice – and these core questions of redistribution and recognition will be even more important to address for both post-Covid19 policymaking and civil society organising.

Can you tell us about a feel-good dish that you or someone in your family makes in stressful times?

This is a hard one. I like to cook and have slowly started having friends over for small dinner parties. My prawn risotto seems to be a winner. Italian food is always the best comfort food.

What do you believe is the biggest challenge to effective policy-making nowadays?

Leadership that is truly committed to political equality and social justice. That can only occur via active engagement with citizens to try and build trust. Australians this year have shown they are resilient – from bushfires, hail storms, the pandemic, and now to the long economic recession. But these are huge challenges for policy-making and will only be addressed through institutionalisation of new collaborative processes. The National Cabinet has been a noteworthy start. The next phase needs to focus on genuine policy-making partnerships between governments, communities, industry, and universities. Watch this space!

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

Music has been the main thing helping me to stay positive. I would classify myself as a music obsessive. I bought a new record player while we were in lockdown and started ordering nostalgic favourites – Disintegration by The Cure is well worth a listen on vinyl.

My other two tips are the everyday nurturing and positive connections built via good food and great friends.

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