Call for Ph.D Candidates at University of New South Wales

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University of New South Wales
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Research Project - What’s Wrong with Democracy and how to Fix it?

The University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia is looking for PhD candidates for its prestigious Scientia PhD program. PhD’s can develop their own research project within the theme What’s wrong with democracy and how to fix it? More information on the research theme, our ideal candidate and the supervisory team can be found below.

Research topic
What’s wrong with democracy and how to fix it? After Brexit, the Trump electoral victory in the US, and rising support for populist parties in Europe and Australia, understanding the challenges facing liberal democracy and how to address them is more important than ever. This project bridges theoretical and empirical approaches to understanding threats to the legitimacy and viability of liberal democratic government. How does liberal democratic theory propose to ensure social justice, reduce inequality and maintain popular sovereignty, and where does it fail to address current threats to these objectives? Could other governance structures be more responsive to citizens’ concerns and address pressing global challenges such as environmental and economic sustainability? What do citizens think legitimate governance consists of and how do they see their own role as citizens? The project innovates by combining both country-level and citizen-level data to evaluate these questions and propose evidence-based solutions for democratic reform.

Our ideal candidate
Our ideal candidate is passionate about research, has excellent analytical capacity, knowledge of relevant theoretical approaches and intellectual curiosity. We are looking for candidates with a background in either political theory broadly understood or comparative politics, with an interest in combining theoretical and empirical work. Proposed projects can have an emphasis either on theory or empirical approaches, however our ideal candidate would seek a combination.

Supervisory team
The supervisory team consists of Dr. Carolien van Ham (Comparative Politics), Prof. Paul Patton (Political Philosophy) and Prof. Jeremy Moss (Political Philosophy).

For questions please contact Dr. Carolien van Ham:
To apply, go to:

Scientia Prof. Paul Patton is a world-renowned scholar in Political Philosophy, with extensive experience in post-structuralist philosophy, political liberalism and rights, which provides crucial expertise to supervise students engaging in (critical) theorising of liberal democracy and legitimacy. In addition, Prof. Paul Patton has extensive experience in supervising PhD candidates and has received awards in recognition of his high-quality supervision, including the 2011 Vice-Chancellors Award for Teaching Excellence in Postgraduate Research Supervision.

Dr. Carolien van Ham is a leading scholar in Comparative Politics, with extensive expertise in empirical research on democracy and legitimacy, recognised a.o. by an ARC DECRA fellowship, which provides crucial expertise to supervise students seeking to connect theory to empirical research, as well as supervising cross-national empirical research using country-level and citizen-level data. Dr. van Ham has several successful Scientia PhDs currently under her supervision.

Prof. Jeremy Moss is a distinguished scholar in Political Philosophy and Environmental Philosophy, with extensive experience in climate justice and egalitarianism, which provides crucial expertise to supervise students engaging in theorising of how liberal democracy engages (or not) with pressing global challenges such as climate justice and economic inequality. Prof. Moss is co-Director of the FASS Practical Justice Initiative at UNSW. As an experienced supervisor and senior scholar, Prof. Moss is in a very good position to provide both substantive supervision as well as career mentoring to prospective Scientia candidates.