Elizabeth Thurbon is a Professor of International Political Economy and Deputy Head of School (Research) and in the School of Social Sciences at UNSW Sydney. She has previously held an Asia Society Australia-Korea Fellowship (2021-2022) and a UNSW Scientia Fellowship (2019-2022), as well as Visiting Fellowships at Seoul National University (as a Korea Foundation Fellow) and China Foreign Affairs University.
Elizabeth’s research examines the state and its strategic role in the process of national techno-industrial development, adaptation, and transformation. Her most significant contributions to the field examine varieties of economic statecraft, the rise and transformation of East Asia’s developmental states, the state’s strategic role in the clean energy shift, and the political economy of international trade and investment agreements, with a particular focus on the impact of these agreements on states’ policy ‘room to move’. She has written widely on these topics for academic and popular audiences. Her most recent book Developmental Environmentalism: State Ambition and Creative Destruction in East Asia’s Clean Energy Transition (Oxford University Press, 2023) provides the first comprehensive account of East Asia’s green energy shift (co-authored with SY Kim, H Tan and J Mathews). The book highlights the powerful and symbiotic role of state ambition, geo-strategic competition, and capitalist market dynamics in driving forward the region’s greening efforts. Her previous book Developmental Mindset (Cornell University Press) offers a fresh way of conceptualising developmental states and of analysing their emergence and evolution.
Elizabeth is currently a Chief Investigator on three major collaborative grants: an Australian Research Council Discovery Project examining East Asia’s Clean Energy Transition (with SY Kim, J Mathews and H Tan), an Academy of Korean Studies Laboratory Project Grant examining Korea’s past, present and future development trajectory (with Keun Lee, DJ Kim, Js Shin J Song and C-y Wong), and a Department of Defence Strategic Policy Grant examining Weaponised Trade and its implications for Australia (with Lisa Toohey and Markus Wagner).
Since 2008, Elizabeth has served as a Board Member of the Jubilee Australia Research Centre, a NGO dedicated to research-based advocacy on questions of social, economic and environmental justice in the Asia-Pacific, with a particular focus on promoting Australian government and corporate accountability: http://www.jubileeaustralia.org/.
Elizabeth holds a Ph.D. in Government (International Political Economy) from the University of Sydney. She also completed her Economics (Social Sciences) Degree at Sydney University, where she was awarded first-class Honours and the University Medal for Academic Excellence.