RegNet @ 20 after 2020

It’s been a privilege to serve as RegNet‘s Director over the last year. I am proud to share our annual report, which covers much of our community’s many achievements and contributions in 2020. As 2021 marks RegNet’s 20th anniversary, I am excited for our work ahead. A snapshot can be found in my Director’s welcome to the report:

2020 did not play out in the ways many of us expected. I remember packing my bags on a snowy North American day in December 2019, eagerly preparing to return to RegNet as its new Director. While I knew searing heat and devastating bushfires would welcome me back to Canberra, I admit I did not anticipate a global pandemic would soon follow—or that it would lay bare and accelerate the governance challenges we are facing across economic, political and social domains.

As I write, the events of the past year are clear reminders of the critical importance of RegNet’s longstanding commitments. Understanding changing regulatory landscapes and anticipating the implications of emergent shifts in governance are essential if we are to work toward more democratic, secure and sustainable futures. 2020 has been no exception in that regard.

Our researchers continue to pursue the important questions of our time, shifting to address how the COVID-19 pandemic will affect regulation and governance across Australia, Asia, the Pacific and globally. RegNet experts have responded with evidence-informed commentary and policy-relevant research on the impacts of the pandemic. Some of the timely RegNet work that made headlines in Australia and overseas has included the Cybercrime Observatory’s research on the availability of COVID-19-related products on Tor darknet markets and the Menzies Centre for Health Governance report, ‘Australian COVID-19 policy responses: Good for health equity or a missed opportunity?’.

Even when physically isolated during periods of lockdown, we remained engaged as a network, meeting regularly over Zoom for reflective discussions about the critical junctures revealed by the pandemic. These exchanges directly informed the theme of RegNet’s annual conversation series event, which we held as a webinar series in October 2020.

It therefore may come as no surprise that this annual report documents what was a remarkable year for RegNet. Despite many challenges, colleagues continued to nurture and support our vibrant intellectual community. RegNet advanced its research across a diverse portfolio of topics, including climate finance, development practice, environmental restorative justice, geoeconomics, intangible assets, planetary health, technologies of policing and violence prevention.

Our activities received generous support from key Australian funding agencies and government departments, including a number of competitive external grants and eight awards from the ANU College of Asia and the Pacific’s Asia Pacific Innovation Program (APIP). Another seven applications submitted to the Australian Research Council are currently under review, and we look forward to sharing more about those projects in due course.

We also advanced the development of RegNet’s research-led educational offerings. We introduced a new Master of Regulation and Governance degree, which commences in 2021, and welcomed our first cohort of students into the Graduate Certificate in Regulation and Governance. The Graduate Certificate builds on the successful pathway course that we developed in collaboration with our local regulatory partner, Access Canberra.

The RegNet community continued to grow in 2020 as well. Our new Braithwaite Fellows, Dr Jensen Sass and Dr Ashley Schram, took up their roles early in the year and are already forging exciting research programs, the details of which are featured in this report. We also welcomed Dr Aleksandar (Aleks) Deejay, a digital governance researcher who brings extensive administrative and teaching experience as Graduate Studies Convenor, and Dr Dirk van der Kley who specialises in Chinese international economic policy and the effect of industrial policy on geopolitics.

This annual report is an overview of our 2020 activities. The pages that follow illustrate some of the many innovative contributions enabled by our dynamic community of researchers and students.

Thank you for your ongoing interest in the work of RegNet. We hope you can follow our updates by joining our mailing list, following us on Twitter or—when travel permits—joining us in person.

We wish you well in the year ahead.

Professor Kate Henne

Director, School of Regulation and Global Governance (RegNet)

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