National Security College lecturer Dr. Jennifer Hunt is not one to shirk from a challenge. Originally hailing from North Carolina, USA, where she was captain of her university’s women’s fencing team, she relocated to Australia to complete her masters and doctoral studies at the University of Sydney.
Jennifer’s PhD thesis examined the economic-energy security nexus from the perspective of a producer state – in this case, Oman – and its impact on the security of the country and the Gulf region: “I asked the question, what happens to an oil state when the oil runs out? Oman is the first Gulf Cooperation Council state where this is expected to happen."
As part of her research, she conducted extensive fieldwork as a visiting scholar at Sultan Qaboos University in Muscat, attended the World Economic Forum in Abu Dhabi and studied Arabic at the Quasid Institute in Jordan.
How did she find living and working as an American, female researcher in the culturally conservative Gulf region? “Actually, it’s probably your best bet to get data,” Jennifer laughs. “Research can be challenging in that knowledge tends to reside in people rather than in documents, but as a Western woman, you’re treated as a ‘third gender’, which means you are unrestricted from starting those conversations with anyone.” Jennifer’s doctoral thesis would be awarded an Honourbale Mention in the Australian Political Studies Association’s PhD Thesis Prize.
Jennifer has applied her expertise in economic security to American politics as well, appearing on the ABC channel’s ‘Q&A’ immediately following Donald Trump’s election: “I’m a comparativist, so I enjoy being able to draw links between dynamics in different countries, since my work sits at the intersection of political science, economics and policy, and it’s the policy focus that I really value about the NSC.”
“Our mission here is to contribute to current debates by working with policymakers, postgraduate students and executives to bring rigorous research to bear on emerging security issues.”
The NSC’s newest staff member teaches ‘Research Methods in National Security’, as well as a new intensive course on ‘Energy Security’: “The ‘post-truth’ age holds a variety of challenges for both researchers and policy practitioners."
“My overall goal in my courses is to make students sophisticated consumers of empirical research as well as producers of advanced work in the national security research space.”