Intern, Foreign Policy and Defence Program
Tom Corben is a research intern with the United States Studies Centre's Foreign Policy and Defence Program.
What is your educational background?
I came to the USSC after completing a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) at UNSW in Asian Studies and International Relations last year. I was drawn to pursuing these studies through my life-long interest in history (particularly Asian), travel, and an interest in writing and analysis. Over the course of my studies, I specialised in East Asian — particularly Korean and Japanese — history, philosophy and contemporary political affairs. I undertook a brief exchange in Seoul focusing on North Korean domestic politics and foreign policy. My honours thesis concerned the securitisation of nuclear power in post-Fukushima Japan. Subsequently, I have developed a more acute interest in energy policy, popular democracy and disaster response and resilience in East Asia.
What have you been working on in your time here at the USSC?
Before starting at the USSC, I had not studied US Asia policy in any great detail beyond the bounds of its alliance relationships with Australia, Japan and Korea. The subjects I’ve been researching have complimented my background in East Asian affairs by filling in knowledge-gaps and challenging me to consider issues from a different perspective. In turn, the process and content of my work at the USSC has informed the way that I will conduct my own research and writing elsewhere.
I have been working with the USSC’s Foreign Policy and Defence Program on a range of issues: the US Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy, defence budget matters, strategic and economic competition with China, and on North Korean issues. I also recently published up a ‘brief’ history of US Ambassadors to Australia, which is now up on the USSC website. I feel that laying out the history in such a manner puts the ongoing absence of a US envoy to Canberra into perspective, and will give us some idea of the likely background of the next nominee for the position.
What do you hope to do with your experience from the USSC?
Looking beyond the USSC, I hope to pursue a career in nuclear power administration, regulation and/or academia, for instance with the likes of the IAEA or the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation. I also intend to pursue postgraduate studies in Japan or Korea with a focus on regional energy and/or foreign policy issues. Additionally, I hope to build on my foundational Korean language skills to become a fluent speaker.