A profound interest in children and armed conflict, especially the reintegration experiences of former girl child soldiers in South Asia, was the driving force that led Kate Macfarlane to start her journey as a doctoral candidate in International Relations at the Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs.
Before commencing her doctoral studies, Kate spent several years at the Australian National University (ANU) providing research and administrative support on a number of large Australian government-funded research grants, including working with Professor John Braithwaite on the Australian Research Council (ARC) funded ‘Peacebuilding Compared’ project at the School of Regulation and Global Governance (RegNet).
“I spent most of my adult life at ANU. I did a Bachelor of Asian Studies and Arts with majors in Mandarin Chinese and International Relations, and completed a final Honours year. I went away to work in Beijing, China, in the NGO development sector for a year and came back to join the College of Asia and the Pacific (CAP) and worked closely with different Professors to manage their large ARC research grants”.
Kate’s commitment to research on children, armed conflict and peacebuilding has won her different fellowships and awards. She was the 2018-2019 Yale Fox Fellowship recipient, and she also received an Australian Postgraduate Award (APA) Scholarship and an Australian Government Endeavour Fellowship (2018), which funded her fieldwork in Sri Lanka for six months.
Kate considers herself very fortunate to have had the experience of doing a doctoral degree at the Coral Bell School. “I was privileged to work on a project of my interest and receive funding to do fieldwork. There were challenges to do with completing fieldwork in former conflict zones. Many times the interviews with former child soldiers were confronting and sad. But I had excellent guidance and support from my main supervisor Dr Cecilia Jacob and my supervision panel. I was also privileged to be mentored by amazing people in the department.”
Kate finished her doctoral degree in June 2021 and is currently working as a Lecturer in South East Asian Studies at Charles Darwin University (CDU). As part of her professional aspirations, Kate would like to make some impact in the discussions related to children, armed conflict, soldiers, human rights and gender in research and teaching. “I would like to turn my thesis into a book at some point in the next few years, and do some other research projects,” she says.