School of Humanities and Social Sciences Executive

The School of Humanities and Social Sciences is led by an executive team who are experts in both teaching and research.

Professor Nick Bisley

Professor Nick Bisley is Dean of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences and Professor of International Relations at La Trobe University. His research and teaching expertise is in Asia's international relations, great power politics and Australian foreign and defence policy. Between 2013 and 2018, Professor Bisley was the Editor-in-Chief of the Australian Journal of International Affairs, the country's oldest scholarly journal in the field of international relations. He is a Fellow of the Australian Institute for International Affairs, a member of the advisory board of China Matters and a member of the Council for Security and Cooperation in the Asia-Pacific. He has been a Senior Research Associate of the International Institute of Strategic Studies and a Visiting Fellow at the East West-Centre in Washington DC. Professor Bisley is the author of many works on international relations, including Issues in 21st Century World Politics, 3rd Edition Great Powers in the Changing International Order and Building Asia's Security. He regularly contributes to and is quoted in national and international media including The Guardian, The Wall Street Journal, CNN and Time Magazine.

Associate Professor Brigid Maher

Associate Professor Brigid Maher is Associate Dean, Learning and Teaching, in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences. She has over twenty years’ teaching experience in the field of Italian studies, including language teaching from beginner to advanced levels, the theory and practice of literary translation, as well as contemporary Italian literature, history, culture and society. She has published widely in the fields of translation studies and contemporary literature. She has previously served as Coordinator of Italian Studies, Discipline Lead for Languages, and Coordinator of Learning and Teaching at La Trobe. She is a Senior Fellow of the Advance Higher Education Academy. Associate Professor Maher’s curriculum design experience includes beginner and intermediate Italian language subjects, as well as the translation subject that is a capstone across all European languages at La Trobe. Her work in the scholarship of learning and teaching includes research into the teaching and assessing of language and culture through translation, as well as a recent pilot study exploring strategies for gender-inclusive teaching of the Italian language.

Professor Lawrie Zion

Professor Lawrie Zion is Associate Dean, Research and Industry Engagement, in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences. He is a journalism professor who was the Lead Chief Investigator of the ARC-funded New Beats project that investigated the aftermath of journalism job loss over the 2010s, both in Australia and internationally. He is currently a Chief Investigator on the interdisciplinary ARC-funded ‘Parched’ project that is examining cultures of drought in Victoria. His former La Trobe roles include Head of Department, Research Focus Area Director, and Associate Provost, Research and Industry Engagement for the College of Arts, Social Sciences and Commerce. Prior to joining La Trobe in 2006 as a journalism lecturer, Professor Zion worked in a range of media roles for nearly 20 years across radio, print, online, and television. He wrote the award-winning 2007 documentary The Sounds of Aus that told the story of the Australian accent. His 2017 book, The Weather Obsession, investigated how digital media is changing the way that we connect to weather. His current research includes an investigation of media coverage of long Covid.

Dr Raul Sanchez-Urribarri

Dr Raul Sanchez-Urribarri is Associate Dean (Academic and International Partnerships) in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, and Senior Lecturer in Crime, Justice and Legal Studies in the Department of Social Inquiry. He is also the current Director of La Trobe's Philippines Australia Forum. Dr Sanchez-Urribarri holds a PhD in Political Science from the University of South Carolina, a Master of Laws from Cambridge University and a Law degree from Universidad Catolica Andres Bello (Caracas, Venezuela). His research focuses on constitutionalism, judicial politics and the rule of law in comparative perspective, with an emphasis on contexts of democratic deterioration in Latin America (Venezuela in particular). Dr Sanchez-Urribarri has a strong interest in the internationalisation of higher education, particularly on strategy, partnership building, international mobility and intercultural teaching. He is the Deputy Convener of the Teaching and Learning Network of the International Education Association of Australia, and Vice-President of the U.S. based Consortium for Undergraduate Law and Justice Programs. He is also a co-editor at Thesis Eleven Journal (SAGE), and past Chair of the Section on Venezuelan Studies at the Latin American Studies Association (LASA). He has also contributed comment to the media in Australia and internationally, including the ABC, BBC, Channel 10, SBS and the Voice of America, among others.

Associate Professor Claire Knowles

Claire Knowles is an Associate Professor of English and the Head of the Department of Languages and Cultures. She received her PhD from the University of Melbourne and worked there and at the University of Tasmania before moving to La Trobe University in 2009. Associate Professor Knowles’s research focuses on women writers in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and on the intersection between Romanticism and emergent forms of popular literary culture. She also writes on the gothic, and as taught gothic TV, film and fiction for many years. Her latest book is Della Cruscan Poetry, Women, and the Fashionable Newspaper (2023). She co-authored a scholarly edition, Charlotte Smith: Major Poetic Works (Broadview, 2017) with Ingrid Horrocks and poets such as Charlotte Smith, Susan Evance, Letitia Landon and Elizabeth Barrett Browning were the focus of her first book, Sensibility and Female Poetic Tradition, 1780-1860: The Legacy of Charlotte Smith (2009). She is currently putting together an edition of British Women Romantic Poets for the Oxford World's Classics imprint and is also working on a number of other research projects including one on "Romanticism and Australia" with colleagues from La Trobe, Monash University, The University of Wollongong, and University College Dublin. She is the Immediate Past President of the Romantic Studies Association of Australaisia.

Associate Professor Emma Robertson

Associate Professor Emma Robertson is Head of Department of Archaeology and History. She is a social and cultural historian of labour, women and gender in the context of modern Britain and the British empire. Her first book, Chocolate, Women and Empire: A Social and Cultural History (2009) drew on PhD research at the University of York into the history of the Rowntree confectionery company, and the lives of women chocolate workers at different stages of the cocoa commodity chain. She went on to study the history of music in the workplace, resulting in the coauthored book, Rhythms of Labour: Music at Work in Britain (2013). Most recently she published BBC World Service: Overseas Broadcasting, 1932-2018 (with Gordon Johnston, 2019) and she has several articles and book chapters on radio in imperial contexts. Associate Professor Robertson has taught widely in the History Program at undergraduate level and has supervised a range of postgraduate research in women’s and gender history, histories of food, and histories of migration. Her current ARC-funded Discovery Project (DP160102764), with Professor Diane Kirkby and Dr Lee-Ann Monk, explores the history of women working in non-traditional occupations in Britain and Australia, particularly on the buses, trams and railways. She is an Associate Editor of Labour History. Associate Professor Robertson lives and works in Bendigo, on Dja Dja Wurrung and Taungurung Country, moving from her home city of York (United Kingdom) in 2011.

Associate Professor Dirk Tomsa

Associate Professor Dirk Tomsa is Head of the Department of Politics, Media and Philosophy and Associate Professor in Politics. His research focuses on Indonesian and comparative Southeast Asian politics, especially in the areas of democratization and democratic decline, electoral and party politics, institutional change and environmental politics. He is the author of Politics in Contemporary Indonesia: Institutional Change, Policy Challenges and Democratic Decline (with Ken Setiawan, Routledge 2022) and Party Politics and Democratization in Indonesia: Golkar in the Post-Suharto Era (Routledge, 2008), as well as two co-edited volumes and numerous journal articles and book chapters. Associate Professor Tomsa teaches Southeast Asian politics and contributes to a range of other Politics subjects at undergraduate and postgraduate levels. He supervises Honours, Masters and PhD candidates working on governance and security issues in Southeast Asia.

Associate Professor Raelene Wilding

Associate Professor Raelene Wilding is Head of the Department of Social Inquiry, Deputy Dean of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, and Acting Discipline Convenor of Aboriginal Studies. She teaches Sociology, including supervising Honours, Masters and PhD candidates, and teaching into undergraduate subjects including 'Sociology of Relationships', 'Introduction to Sociology' and 'Social Research Methods'. Associate Professor Wilding has published numerous journal articles, book chapters and books, and is regularly invited to present her research findings to both academic and non-academic audiences. Her recent projects include an exploration of the role of virtual reality in enhancing the lives of older adults, the potential for digital tools to better communicate health information in Languages Other Than English, and an examination of how older migrants use mobile phones and social media to maintain their relationships.

Ms Lorraine Ward

Ms Lorraine Ward is Senior Manager in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences. She has a strong management background across several sectors, including sports management and local government. Ms Ward is an alumna of La Trobe University and Swinburne University. In her role as Senior Manager, she is primary adviser to the Dean and the School Executive in relation to University policies, operations and business processes, while also leading the professional administrative team.