Scott Stirrett on the CANZPS Certificate

Eleven years ago I visited Australia. It was the first major international trip that I had made with my family. While the trip occurred over what now seems like a lifetime ago, I can still remember going to a show at the Sydney Opera House, and swimming in the beauty of the Great Barrier Reef.

One of the things that struck me then and now is the inherent similarity between both Australia and my own native Canada. There is a reason why so many Canadians – such as my cousin – move to the country. Australia in some ways feels like a Canada, with much, much nicer weather.

Through taking the certificate in Australia, New Zealand, and Pacific Studies, I learned much more about the antipodean world – but also about my own Canadian identity. For instance, taking a class on New Zealand cinema resulted in me thinking much more about the complete lack of popular films made in Canada, with Canadian content.

In focusing on a region, one does not just learn about the specifics of those countries’ cultures. One also gains new comparative lenses to assess other countries and regions. As Seymour Lipset wrote, “those who know only one country know no country.”

Australia, New Zealand, and the Pacific region are located in the increasing center of global geopolitics. With the rise of China and India, it is more important than ever to understand how the antipodean countries fit into the broader Asian region’s delicate political balance.

As part of the certificate, I did a thesis on the impact of the Australian mining industry on Sino-Australian relations. In this semester long research project, I dug into some of the complex issues surrounding the booming mineral trade with China – and the impact that this has on policy making.

Choosing to pursue the certificate program was one of the most academically rewarding decisions of mine at Georgetown. It taught me an enormous amount about a region that will only increase in its global geopolitical importance – as well as about my own Canadian identity.

Scott Stirrett, SFS class of 2013, completed the Certificate in Australian and New Zealand Studies.