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 Sarah Midford

Associate Professor Sarah Midford is Associate Dean, Learning and Teaching, in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences. She has over 20 years’ teaching experience across Australian history and literature, classics and ancient history, and interdisciplinary studies. She has extensive curriculum design experience at program, degree and subject level, and particular expertise in student engagement, success and retention initiatives designed to enhance learning for Arts cohorts. She publishes in the Scholarship of Learning and Teaching (SoLT) on innovative pedagogy and the development of best practice digital and online learning experiences. Associate Professor Midford is an Advance Higher Education Senior Fellow, and a recipient of multiple learning and teaching awards including a national citation awarded by the Australian Awards for University Teaching for best practice mobile first learning design. She has consulted for the Victorian Department of Premier and Cabinet and has sat on boards and steering committees driving the agenda of inclusive and accessible education.

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 Katherine Ellinghaus

Associate Professor Katherine Ellinghaus is Head of the Department of Archaeology and History. After completing her PhD at The University of Melbourne, she undertook postdoctoral fellowships there and at Monash University, before joining La Trobe in 2019. Associate Professor Ellinghaus has published two books on the history of Indigenous assimilation policies in Australia and the United States, and is currently part of teams researching the impact of Aboriginal exemption policies and the history of Indigenous mobilities. She is also co-editing a four-volume collection, Ngura Ninti: A History of Documents 1770-2000, to be published by Routledge in 2025. Associate Professor Ellinghaus’ research explores the possibilities of writing history based on collaboration between Indigenous and non-Indigenous scholars, people and communities.

Professor Tonya Stebbins

Professor Tonya Stebbins is Head of the Department of Languages and Cultures. She has taught Linguistics for many years and is a co-author of the popular textbook For the Love of Language. Professor Stebbins’ research focuses on knowledge translation that empowers individuals and communities through access to the methods and analytical tools of linguistics. Her approach to research and teaching was strengthened by industry experience she gained when she worked outside of academia between 2012-2015. This period as an independent consultant in education, health and human services provided Professor Stebbins with insights into connections between the discipline and the needs of industry.

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.