PhD students Ram Niwas Arya from India and Javier Recabarren from Chile are the 2021 recipients of the Frank Stilwell Award in Political Economy, which rewards outstanding research in the field and provides financial support to bright minds who need it.
Generously donated by Emeritus Professor Frank Stilwell, a renowned political economist and advocate of alternative economic strategies that prioritise social justice and ecological sustainability, The Frank Stilwell Award is gifted to domestic and international postgraduate research degree students in Political Economy based on academic excellence and hardship.
“Research by postgraduate students is a key source of dynamism in any university. The students themselves gain skills and a highly prized qualification, while society is enriched by their research findings. This is particularly so for a subject like Political Economy, creating useful knowledge for building a more secure, sustainable and equitable future,” says Emeritus Professor Frank Stilwell.
When I retired as Professor of Political Economy, I tried to help the next generation of political economists seeking to build a more equitable future by making funding available to good students needing financial support for their important research. Long may this process flourish!
2021 is the first year that two exceptional students have shared the award, each of them focusing on diverse economic and environmental issues that impact their respective countries, India and Chile.
Ram’s research is guided by the strong belief that in a democratic country like India, citizens should have a share in the decision-making process and ownership of clean energy infrastructure assets, like solar and wind turbines.
His PhD focuses on climate change induced energy transition and the community ownership of clean energy assets in India.
“I view this transition as critical to addressing not only climate mitigation and energy poverty, but also to reframe development discourse around the integration of climate, poverty, community and natural resources,” says Ram.
“I hope my findings will lend much-needed academic muscle to the faulty and lopsided energy transition policy debate in my country. The current policy environment is dominated by the strong private sector's monopolistic influence and the capture of natural resources, which takes power away from the people.”
“Winning the Frank Stilwell Award is a huge honour, I am truly humbled that the Award Committee saw the merit in my work and chose me. Working and completing a PhD is a constant challenge, so with the help of this award I will be able to focus more time on my thesis and reduce the number of hours I work per week,” Ram says.
Eager to address the factors that have maintained an ineffective trade economy policy in his home country Chile since the 1970s, Javier Recabarren’s PhD thesis reveals the co-constitution of agents and structures that have shaped the content and durability of a neoliberal trade agenda in Chile.
Javier's research aims to contribute to the current debate on what a future development strategy could look like in Chile, and how that might fit in a global economy.
“Doing my PhD at the University of Sydney under the supervision of Professor Adam Morton is a real privilege, because of the international reputation the Department of Political Economy has for the contribution it makes to the discipline of critical political economy,” says Javier.
“I feel extremely honoured and grateful to be the recipient of the Frank Stilwell Award, which is associated with one of the most prominent and leading scholars of political economy in the world.”
For Javier, the award couldn’t have come at a better time: “Receiving this in my fourth year, when I’m so close to the end, will help alleviate my current financial circumstances and give me the peace of mind needed to fully concentrate on completing a quality thesis.”
The Frank Stilwell Award in Political Economy, worth up to $10,000, is given based on academic merit and hardship to the student judged to be the most meritorious by the department’s Scholarships Award Committee.
To be considered eligible for this award, students must be enrolled full-time in the Department of Political Economy at the University of Sydney in one of the following degrees and meet the following requirements: