Professorial Lecture Series - Professor Joanne Wallis

Professorial Lecture Series - Professor Joanne Wallis

The Professorial Lecture Series will be held on the last Monday of each month, with each event delivered by a newly appointed professor. This month's speaker, Professor Joanne Wallis is a newly appointed Professor of International Security in the Department of Politics and International Relations at the University of Adelaide. 

We are releasing a limited number of tickets to attend this event live in The Braggs Lecture Theatre, North Terrace Campus. Capacity limits apply in order to safely adhere to social distancing protocols. The event will also be livestreamed via Zoom Webinar.

If you have any questions for Jodie prior to the lecture, or have any questions about the event please submit them to


Cognitive dissonance? Contradictions in Australia’s Pacific Islands policy and discourse.

The Australian government has long identified that a secure Pacific Islands region sits only behind a secure Australia in the hierarchy of its strategic interests. The Australian government has begun to demonstrate strategic anxiety about the ‘crowded and complex’ geopolitics of the region. This reflects its broader concerns about geostrategic competition in the ‘Indo-Pacific’, and its perception that Pacific states are ‘small’ and ‘weak’, and therefore vulnerable to influence from potentially hostile powers that may threaten Australia. Simultaneously, the Australian government has vowed to ‘step-up’ its engagement with its ‘Pacific family’, emphasising that its relationships with Pacific states will be characterised by respect for, and listening to them, as equals. While the Australian government has articulated its intention to improve its relationships with Pacific states in the pursuit of its strategic interests, puzzlingly, it continues to adopt policies that undermine this goal.

In this lecture I employ the concept of ‘cognitive dissonance’ to analyse how and why this occurs. I outline what this analysis demonstrates about how the Australian government perceives the Pacific, what assumptions and habits inform those beliefs, and as Australia’s ‘step-up’ moves from announcement to implementation, how they are translated into behaviour via government policy. I conclude by arguing that the Australian government should seek ‘cognitive consistency’ in its discourse about, and policies toward, the Pacific, guided by the discourse of the ‘Blue Pacific’.


Hear more about our speaker:

Joanne Wallis is a leading academic voice within the Australian strategic and foreign affairs policy community. She has been a delegate to the Australia-America Leadership Dialogue, has been invited to participate in strategic dialogues in Washington, Wellington, Canberra, Taipei and Port Moresby, and has appeared before the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade.

Joanne is the author or editor of seven books, including Constitution making during State building (CUP 2014) and Pacific Power? Australia’s Strategy in the Pacific Islands (MUP 2017). She is also the chief investigator on two Australian Research Council Discovery Projects, and is the chief investigator on a Defence Strategic Policy Grant analysing the potential of a networked security architecture in the Pacific Islands. Joanne also co-edits Peacebuilding and is on the editorial advisory committee of Asia Policy, the international advisory board of The Round Table and the editorial board of the Australian Journal of International Affairs.

Joanne completed her PhD at the University of Cambridge as a Poynton Cambridge Australia scholar. She completed Masters degrees in Arts and Law at the University of Melbourne and prior to that was a lawyer at Allens Arthur Robinson (now Allens Linklaters). She then spent more than eight years in the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre at the Australian National University and was awarded the ANU Vice Chancellor's Award for Teaching Excellence as well as a National Citation for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning.

Joanne has been a Fulbright Scholar at the Walker Institute of International and Area Studies at the University of South Carolina; a Visiting Scholar at the State, Society and Governance in Melanesia Project at the Australian National University; an Honorary Fellow of the School of Social and Political Sciences at the University of Melbourne; and a Visiting Scholar the East-West Center in Honolulu.



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