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The Australian National University

Award-winning doctor joins National Security College

Dr Jennifer Hunt describes NSC's program as unique, flexible and demanding.

Jennifer HuntNational Security College lecturer Dr Jennifer S. 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 energy security 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?,” Jennifer says. “Oman is the first Gulf Cooperation Council state where this is expected to happen.”

To answer this question, she conducted extensive fieldwork as a visiting researcher at Sultan Qaboos University in Muscat, attended the World Economic Forum in Abu Dhabi and studied Arabic at the Qasid 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 information,” 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. Moreover, I found the Omanis very open to someone studying the region from their perspective.”

Dr. Hunt’s doctoral thesis was awarded an Honourable Mention in the Australian Political Studies Association’s PhD Thesis Prize and she has since expanded her research into the geopolitics of global energy markets while working on her upcoming book.

“My work sits at intersection of political science, economics and policy, and it’s the policy focus that I really value about the NSC,” she says. “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.”

One of the NSC's newest staff member has initially taken on the ‘National Security Leadership and Risk Management’ course. “This class is popular because it’s blended” Jennifer says. “It’s partly online, with some non-traditional assessments such as policy briefs and podcasts.

“The class is flexible, it’s unique, and it’s demanding; it makes the face-to-face time much more valuable in that you do the ground work you come in, and then apply it practically in class.”