The Research School of Social Sciences (RSSS) is one of the foundational schools of the Institute of Advance Studies at the Australian National University. As a major institution of theorectical and empiricial research in social sciences, RSSS is also a significant prescence in the nation’s undergraduate, postgraduate and postdoctoral training.
The Research School of Social Sciences was formally established by the Australian National University Act of 1946, which stated that one of the functions of the University should be “to encourage, and provide facilities for, postgraduate research and study, both generally and in relation to subjects of national importance to Australia”. Since its founding RSSS has pursued these aims and has been able to contribute to public debates in Australia across the many social science disciplines. To do so, the School convenes workshops, public lectures, debates and roundtables that address issues of significant public and community importance.
In 2016, the Director initiated a program of collaborative interdisciplinary research projects between RSSS academics and colleagues from the ANU Colleges of Science Engineering and Computer Science, Health and Medicine, and Business and Economics. In 2017, $159,295 was awarded to RSSS academics for a variety of interdisciplinary projects, including the following:
- A/Prof Naomi Priest was awarded funding to examine how racism gets ‘under the skin’ to influence lifelong health. This Cross- College grant was in collaboration with Ray Lovett, Emily Banks, and Lyndall Strazdins from the National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health (NCEPH) and enabled additional research into sensitive measures such as immune and inflammatory biomarkers that capture stress and physiological changes in children.The project was later incorproated into the ARC Linkage grant “Speak Out Against Racism” and Prof Priest also received a NHMRC Career Development Fellowship.
- A/Prof Nicholas Biddle recieved funding to investigate socioeconomic variations in fatal burden of disease through the analysis of linked ABS census-mortality data. The project collaborated with Rosemary Korda from the NCEPH and Heather Booth from the RSSS School of Demography. The aim of this project is to create a cohort study of the entire Australian population using recently linked ABS census-mortality data to examine socioeconomic variation in fatal burden of disease.Since it’s inception, this project has been leveraged into a NHMRC Partnership Grant with the University of NSW, University of Adelaide, ABS, Australian institute of Health and Welfare, and the National Heart Foundation of Australia.”
RSSS Director’s Award for Higher Degree Research
The RSSS Director’s Award for Higher Degree Research is offered to two of the most highly ranked applicants in the Research School during the Australian Postgraduate Award Round. It is a “top-up” scholarship that provides $20,000 in research funding per annum for up to two years. In 2017, the RSSS Director chose two receipents from the School of Philosophy and the School of History:
- Ms Dominie Dessaix was the representative from the School of Philosophy who received one of the RSSS Director’s Award for Higher Degree Research was for her PhD on foundational issues in lexical semantics in linguistics and how such work squares with approaches to semantics in philosophy of language and philosophy of cognitive science. Of the award, Ms Dessaix said, “I am extremely grateful for having received the RSSS Director’s Award in 2017. This extra funding has helped immensely in supporting my research activities this year, and it general has taken the financial pressure off my PhD program and allowed me to focus on what matters: the research and engagement in the department life.”
- Mr Stephen Kinnane was the receipent of the RSSS Director’s Award for High Degree Research as a representative of the School of History. Mr Kinnane recieved the award on his PhD in competing historical narratives of development, reclamation and transformation in the Kimberley region of WA. Of the award, Mr Kinnane said, “the Award has been utilised to support preliminary research activities in the Kimberley and Canberra, including car hire, to support after-school and holiday child-care for my two young boys to enable full-time study, and to attend relevant community knowledge forums; ”
RSSS Postdoctoral Fellowships
- In 2017, RSSS continued to fund three 3-year postdoctoral fellows who commenced in 2016: Dr Timothy Graham, Dr Katherine Carroll and Dr Shmuel Nili. The fellows are pushing the boundaries of current research on the commercialization and commoditization of human tissue and genetic material, the ethics of fertility preservation, the rise and rise of socialbots and bot networks in influencing our thinking, elections and lives, and moral and ethical integrity in the public sphere.