With his sights set on a career in the public service, Conor Johnson entered his first year of a Bachelor of Arts at James Cook University (JCU) knowing he wanted to study politics.
“Studying politics is one of the best pathways you can do to get into the public service in terms of learning about policy implementation, formulation and knowing how government functions.”
Covering topics including policy analysis and management, public policy and politics, Conor feels the course is giving him an overview of how the government functions across its varying departments, and gives him an understanding of how the public service implements policy.
“The course offers subjects that are about demonstrating how policy comes together and how decisions are made regarding what’s the best strategy to take, while addressing things as diverse as economic policy, economic policy, and social policy. Anything the government does is covered.”
Conor has enjoyed the opportunity to make in depth investigations into specific policy issues, allowing him to develop a specialty and follow his own areas of interest.
“You have an opportunity to find an area you like, and do your essays to your speciality. For me it’s security policy so I’ve done multiple essays focussing on terrorism, international security and Australia’s place in Asia-Pacific security, because that’s what I’m interested in and this course has allowed me to do that.
A Far North Queensland local, it was ideal for Conor to attend a local university which offers small classes and a personalised teaching style, which he says has been a huge benefit to his learning experience.
“You have more time with your lecturers, which allows you to get to know them and speak to them. One of my lecturers makes sure he has coffee with his students every now and again – he’s always there to talk to you and you’re welcome to just stop by his office. The best thing about studying at JCU is being able to freely discuss my studies and talk to my lecturers. I can’t imagine getting this kind of support at a larger university in one of the capital cities.”
Before he applies into his dream career in the public service, Conor is planning to complete an honours thesis looking at Chinese interest in Australian agribusiness.
“I’m thinking of looking at the motives, giving some analysis and background to Chinese investors and their recent interest in Australian agricultural assets. But that’s only an idea, I have a whole semester to think about it.”