Where social justice meets the real world

18 August 2021

Director of the new Master of Social Justice, Dr Susan Banki, shares a few of her experiences

Dr Susan Banki from the Department of Sociolology and Social Policy tells us about her research into the politics of Myanmar, and explains her role in the launch of the new Master of Social Justice degree.

My favourite thing about my role is...

I am the Director of the new Master of Social Justice, which is an exciting new degree to begin at the start of 2022. In that role, I have several duties, but they include a mix of curricular planning and promotional activities.

I am also a passionate teacher. It’s the adjective that is used most often by students when describing me. I care about the topics I teach and I care about my students’ learning. That is a part of my job that I enjoy tremendously.

At the moment I'm working on...

On the research front, I am writing an article about Myanmar protest art. Artists have played an incredibly creative and potent role in advancing the cause of anti-coup protestors, and it’s been both exciting and sobering to dig into that material.

I am also working to promote the new Master of Social Justice degree, which begins in 2022.

This degree, which will have streams in development studies, peace and conflict and human rights, promises to bring some of social sciences most important disciplines together to help understand and respond to some of Australia’s, and the world’s, thorniest problems. I am really looking forward to welcoming our first cohort of incoming students in 2022.
Dr Susan Banki, Program Director, Master of Social Justice

These projects are interesting and important to me because...

Myanmar has fallen off the front page of the news, but since the February 1 coup, it has proved as an exemplar of a Southeast Asian nation whose human rights situation has descended precipitously. Some people are saying it may even become a failed state. Trying to understand how Myanmar citizens continue to create the conditions for awareness raising is important from both theoretical and empirical perspectives, especially as they relate to Southeast Asia. The Sydney Southeast Asia Centre (SSEAC) has recognised how important this is. At their annual forum on ASEAN this year, the focus will be on human rights. I’ll be moderating a panel and I am looking forward to the panels and the documentary film they will be showing.

On the Master of Social Justice degree: COVID, environmental crises and increasing inequality are all an indication that the world’s most difficult problems cannot be tackled easily. We need to understand these problems – often called ‘wicked’ problems – through multiple lenses, and we need the analytical and practical tools, undertaken with thoughtfulness and integrity, to allow us to respond with humility and reflection. The Master of Social Justice degree hopes to deliver that. It’s an ambitious idea, but that’s what we hope to do. 

My team is great at...

I don’t really have a team. But I work with wonderful colleagues who are equally enthusiastic about teaching and learning and research as I am!

To stay well while working remotely...

I am learning to play guitar. My ultimate frisbee mania has had to be put on hold!