The BHP Billiton Chair of Australian Studies is an initiative of the Australia-China Council, the Foundation for Australian Studies in China, BHP Billiton and Peking University. The establishment of the Chair was announced by the Prime Minister in April 2011 during the official visit to China.
On 26 November 2012 Dr Craig Emerson, Minister for Trade and Competitiveness and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on Asian Century Policy and Senator the Hon Chris Evans, Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Science and Research announced the appointment of Professor David Walker as inaugural BHP Billiton Chair of Australian Studies at Peking University.
Professor Walker is currently Alfred Deakin Professor of Australian Studies at Deakin University. He has made a major contribution to the debate on Australia’s engagement with Asia through his ground-breaking study “Anxious Nation: Australia and the Rise of Asia, 1850-1939” and has recently co-edited with Dr Agnieszka Sobocinska, “Australia’s Asia: From Yellow Peril to Asian Century”. Professor Walker has extensive experience in the advancement of Australian Studies in China, India, Japan and Indonesia and held the Distinguished Visiting Chair of Australian Studies at the University of Copenhagen.
The appointment was made by the Foundation for Australian Studies in China after an extensive search and consultations with the stakeholders.
The Chair is expected to raise awareness and understanding of Australia in China and provide academic leadership to a network of over 30 Australian Studies Centres in metropolitan and regional Chinese universities, which has been supported by the Australia-China Council for two decades. It is the first high-profile, privately-funded Australian professorial position in China, and is a reflection of growing academic engagement between the two countries.
Peking University, founded in 1898, is China’s most prestigious university. Professor Walker will be located in the Australian Studies Centre at Peking University. He will also interact and provide support to the approximately 30 other Australian Studies Centres located at other universities around China.
BHP Billiton Chair position was made possible due to the generous support of BHP Billiton and the Foundation for Australian Studies in China - a unique partnership between Australian business community, higher education se ctor and government.