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Our research

Generating new knowledge to drive change
We develop research questions, shape ideas and build change, working from start to finish with our partners. We train researchers, policymakers, politicians, businesses and civil society leaders to collaborate more effectively.

Our research draws its strength from academia, civil society, business and government. It is always done in partnership with institutions who seek to put new ideas into practice, uniting the wisdom of everyday experience with rigorous scholarship.

Learn more about our current research in each thematic area and browse our publications.

Director of the Sydney Policy Lab

Professor Marc Stears
Professor Marc Stears
“The University of Sydney is one of the world’s greatest research universities. The Sydney Policy Lab’s job is to ensure that the brilliant ideas its researchers generate can help bring real policy change to Australia and the world.”
View Marc's profile

Research themes

The recent global trend towards greater inequality – between socio-economic groups, generations, cultural and ethnic groups – is indisputable and thrown into sharp relief by public health, climate and other crises. But what are the forces driving that trend and how can we combat or reverse it?

Across the globe, governments, businesses, campaign groups and others are trying to secure a more equal future. How do we build more equal societies?

Around the world the rise of economic inequality and political distrust has been accompanied by a marked upturn in cultural and national discussion of belonging and identity. Debate ranges widely, from patterns of migration and social integration, to the place of religion in society, and to the rights of Indigenous peoples. This theme also captures the relationship between place and peoples and the sense of social erosion and alienation currently reported in countries worldwide.

In Australia confidence in established institutions of democracy is on shaky ground, and faith in many developed democracies across the world is declining. In some of these countries we have witnessed the electoral consequences of this decline, with the rise of populist political movements and the shattering of conventional parties on both the left and the right.

This theme focuses our work on changes to politics that can reverse the rising trend towards populism and distrust. How can people outside the political elite play a role in shaping a new political landscape, and if there was a seismic shift, how would the public service itself respond?

Facts & figures

Our story in short

  • 6 research leads
  • 144 full research members
  • 500+ engaged researchers
  • 150+ external research partners
  • 200+ annual media appearances
  • 10,000+ annual workshop attendees

Vice-Chancellor Michael Spence

We have placed multidisciplinary and international collaboration at the heart of our research, and initiatives like our Sydney Policy Lab are concrete examples of this philosophy.