Paula Hanasz. Photo by Belinda Thompson.

Water win

02 December 2013

The murky waters of international conflict and cooperation are set to become a little clearer after Crawford School PhD scholar Paula Hanasz won a Prime Minister’s Endeavour Award.

Hanasz was one of the winners in the 2014 Prime Minister’s Australia Asia Postgraduate Scholarships category in the awards. The win means she receives essential funding to allow her to undertake fieldwork next year in India, Nepal and Bhutan. Hanasz was one of a number of ANU staff and students to win prize’s in this year’s awards.

The awards – offered through the Department of Education - aim to help international citizens undertaken study, research and development in Australia, and provide scholarships to Australians to do study, research and professional development overseas.

Hanasz’s PhD thesis looks at the complex network of water sharing arrangements between the countries of South Asia, and questions whether talk of ‘water wars’ between Asia’s nations is overblown.

She said she was delighted that her work had been recognised through the awards.

“You can imagine what a thrill it is to win such an award, and it’s a huge relief financially,” she said.

“I’m lucky that my PhD topic dovetails with an increasing Australian interest in the issues surrounding water diplomacy in South Asia. The Endeavour Awards support research that aligns with Australia’s strategic objectives, and I was able to mount a case that my thesis will make a significant contribution to the body of knowledge about how water conflicts and cooperation develop.

“It’s an honour to have my intellectual interests recognised as something worth pursuing and validated as something of importance to Australia.”

The scholarship requires that Hanasz complete an international internship relevant to her studies, so next year she will spend six months as a Visiting Fellow at The Observer Research Foundation, a prestigious think tank in New Delhi. While there, she will conduct fieldwork for her PhD and produce a report for the think tank on India’s role in the region’s water governance.

She said that the scholarship will allow her to do a number of things useful to her PhD which would have been out of her reach without this financial assistance.

“It means that I will be able to spend longer in India than I could have otherwise afforded. It also means that I can conduct research in Nepal and Bhutan – both of which are central to my thesis. And as an added bonus, I will now be able to afford to attend World Water Week, the premier international conference on hydro-politics, which is held in Sweden every year.”

But the awards offer more than a stipend, international internship opportunities and overseas fieldwork, as Hanasz explained.

“The Endeavour Awards have an active and illustrious alumni network which I can’t wait to become part of,” she said.

“I’m always inspired by the achievements of others and am endlessly fascinated by how quality research can make a positive change in the world.

“Lastly, there’s a tiny part of me that feels vindicated in the eyes of my family and friends who thought I was crazy to give up a well paid and respectable job to pursue a PhD!”

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