Australian Studies

Australian studies is an extremely broad academic field, one that is appeals to students and scholars of all sorts. In its broadest sense, the term can apply to just about any aspect of the land Down Under. Australia is a unique, exciting continent with many plants and animals found nowhere else in the world; its geology and ecology are more than enough to keep its scientists busy. However, in the world of academia, the name is often applied more specifically, referring to any and all study of Australia's cultural aspects.

This is still a very broad category, one that can apply to just about every field of study outside of the hard sciences. It includes history, literature, sociology, economics, linguistics and many more.

For historians, Australia is an interesting place. Its history as part of the modern world has been rather short, tumultuous and provincial, but during that time the continent has played crucial roles in war, trade and empire building. It's also interesting for its unique perspective on imperialism and colonial practices; Australia was no ordinary colony. Rather than being like America, a rich, nearby land ripe for development, Australia grew up as a penal colony, a place for exile.

Other historians might focus on more archaic stuff - the days before Australia joined Western civilization. Australian studies also include anthropology and archaeology, because it has a rich prehistory that dates back tens of thousands of years. Researchers have even found evidence that humans were living in Australia long before they ever reached Europe.

For much of that time Australia belonged solely to its aboriginal people. Some Australian scholars focus on the rich culture of these tribes - their history, their artifacts, their languages, their beliefs and their relationships with the various world powers who shaped the Australian nation. Today, Australia is a very diverse place, rife with opportunity to study the sociological effects of so many people of different ethnicities coming together in one place.

In a similar vein, the study of Australian politics or economics are also deeply affected by the continent's diversity. It has long been a bastion of European settlement in an area surrounded by East Asian and Pacific races, and they all have to trade with each other and get along. Australia's politics have undergone some serious changes during recent history, especially concerning shifting views on prisoner's and civil rights and the treatment of native peoples.