Professor John A. Rees

Professor of Politics & International Relations
Senior Research Associate, Institute for Ethics & Society

BTh, MA, MTh Hons, MA(IR), PhD

Phone: 02 8204 4131

  • Biography

    John A. Rees, PhD, is a scholar of international relations researching the impacts of religious and cultural practices on social, political and institutional life. He is Professor of Politics and International Relations jointly appointed in the School of Arts & Sciences and the Institute for Ethics & Society. In 2021 John will undertake teaching and research at the University of Wyoming as a Fulbright Senior Scholar. He holds a PhD (International Relations) from the University of New South Wales and postgraduate research degrees in International Relations, Ancient History, and Political Theology.

  • Teaching areas

    Teaching Areas

    • Religion and world politics
    • International relations theory and practice
    • Foreign policy
  • Research expertise and supervision

    Interests and Current Projects

    • Catholic international diplomacy
    • Nationalism and religion
    • Political theologies of international relations
    • Ethics and institutional change

    John has supervised PhD, MA, and MPhil candidates to completion on topics of religion and international relations, international policy regimes, and political theory. He is presently primary supervisor for a suit of PhD projects on various aspects of Catholicism in global affairs. John is available to supervise in the following areas:

    • Religion and international relations (all aspects)
    • Nationalism and religion
    • Ethics and institutional change
  • Books

    • Rees, J.A. 2011. Religion in International Politics and Development: The World Bank and Faith Institutions (Cheltenham, UK and Northampton, USA: Edward Elgar Publishing)
    • Baldino, D., Lundberg, D., Pietsch J., Rees, J. 2011. Contemporary Challenges in Australian Security (Melbourne: Palgrave MacMillan)
  • Book chapters

    • Rees, J.A. 2021. ‘Religious Tradition and Secular Order: Catholic Globalism as Cooperation and Resistance’. S. Raudino, & U. Ashraf, eds. Religion and the Secular: Fracture and Composition (Hampshire, UK: Palgrave) forthcoming.
    • Rees, J.A. 2021. ‘Religion and Culture’ in S. McGlinchey, ed., International Relations: A Beginner’s Guide (London: MacMillan Higher Education). forthcoming.
    • Rees, J.A. 2021. 'Religion and Society' in J. Arvanitakis, ed., Sociologic: A Sociological Analysis of Everyday Life (Melbourne, Oxford University Press). forthcoming.
    • Rees, J.A. 2021. ‘Religion and Foreign Policy’ in J. Haynes ed. Handbook on Religion and International Relations (London, Edward Elgar). forthcoming.
    • Rees, J.A. 2017. ‘Religion and Culture’ in S. McGlinchey, ed., International Relations: A Beginner’s Guide (Bristol, UK: E-International Relations), pp.98-111.
    • Rees, J.A. 2016. 'The Nation and the State' in J. Arvanitakis, ed., Sociologic: A Sociological Analysis of Everyday Life (Melbourne, Oxford University Press), pp.179-196.
    • Rees, J.A. 2015. ‘Four Religion s of Foreign Policy’ in L. M. Herrington, A. McKay & J. Haynes, eds. Nations under God: The Geopolitics of Faith in the Twenty-First Century (Bristol, UK: E-International Relations), pp.45-55.
    • Rees, J.A. 2013. ‘International Financial Institutions and Religion’, in M. Clarke ed., Handbook of Research on Development and Religion (Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar Publishing), pp.268-285.
    • Rees, J.A. 2012. ‘Really Existing Scriptures: on the use of sacred text in international affairs’, in D. Johnston and D. Hoover, eds. Religion and Foreign Affairs: Essential Readings (Baylor University Press), pp.109-118.
    • *John A. Rees, Case Studies (11 Chapters) in Devetak, R., George, J. & Percy, S. 2017. An Introduction to International Relations 3rd Edition (Melbourne: Cambridge University Press).
  • Journal articles and proceedings

    Editor: Journal special editions

    • Rees, J.A., ed., ‘Special Issue - Political Theologies of International Relations: comparative Christian interpretations.’ Religions, forthcoming 2022.
    • Rees, J.A. & Smartt, eds. 2018. ‘The Politics of Religious Freedom in the Asia-Pacific.’ Journal of Religious and Political Practice. Vol. 4, Iss. 1
    • Rees, J.A., ed. 2017. ‘Reading Laudato Si’ in the Asia-Pacific.’ Philippiniana Sacra, Vol 52, No 157.

    Articles (Select)

    • Rees, J.A. 2021. ‘The Theological Turn in IR’ in J. Haynes, ed., ‘Special Issue - Religion and International Relations: What do we know and how do we know it?’ Religions, forthcoming.
    • Rees, J.A. 2021. ‘Religion, Populism and the Dynamics of Nationalism’, Religion, State and Society, Vol 49. Iss. 2. forthcoming.
    • Rees, J.A. & Rawson, S.V. 2018/19. ‘The Resources of Religious Humanitarianism: the case of migrants on Lampedusa’. Journal for the Academic Study of Religion. 31.2: 172-191.
    • Rees, J.A. & Smartt, T. 2018. 'Beyond religious freedom: Asia-Pacific engagements in conversation with Elizabeth Shakman Hurd.' Journal of Religious and Political Practice, Vol 4. Iss. 1. pp.1-8.
    • Rees, J.A. 2017. ‘Intersectionality, International Relations and the Possibility of Religion Policy’. Politics, Religion & Ideology, 18:1, 100-103.
    • Rees, J.A. 2014. 'Religion in the Syntax of Political Power: a post-secular perspective on international relations', Politics, Religion and Ideology, 15:3, pp.456-472.
    • Rees, J.A. 2013. 'Religion Research in International Relations: A Taxonomy', Australian Journal of Political Science, Vol 48, Issue 1, pp.129-134.
    • McDuie-Ra, D. and Rees, J.A. 2010. ‘Religious Actors, Civil Society, and the Development Agenda: the Dynamics of Inclusion and Exclusion’, Journal of International Development, 22 (1), pp. 20-36.
  • Conference papers


    • 2020. ‘The Sacred Dimension of Populism’, International Political Science Association Conference, Honolulu, 22 March. Invited to present as part of a panel with leading researchers Jeffrey Haynes, Jocelyn Cesari, Vendulka Kubalkova, and David Smith. Papers to form the core of a special issue of the journal Religion, State & Society.
    • 2019. ‘Motion or Mirage? Normative Institutional Change in Pre-Socratic Perspective’, School of Arts & Sciences and School of Philosophy & Theology Research Seminar Series, Notre Dame Sydney.
    • 2018. ‘Catholic Global Strategy: Environment, Justice and Peace’, International Political Studies Association Conference (panel with Jeff Haynes, Heba Adawy, Petr Kratochvil and Joseph Camilleri).
    • 2017. 'Global Institutions of Religion', Reimagining Difference: Being, Thinking and Practicing Beyond Essentialism. Centre for Religion, Conflict and the Public Domain, University of Groningen, 13-15 September.
    • 2016. 'Religion and International Development: Respondent to Luke Bretherton, Stephen Plant, Ashraf Adeel', American Academy of Religion Annual Meeting, San Antonio, TX, 21 November.
    • 2016. 'Religious literacy as a precursor to religious freedom in regional policy development', The Politics of Religious Freedom in the Asia-Pacific, The University of Notre Dame Australia, 15 September.
    • 2015. 'Human Flourishing and the "Good That Governments Do": a postsecular reading of state authority', COMIUCAP Conference, Australian Catholic University, Melbourne, 20-22 July.
    • 2014. 'Four Religions of Foreign Policy', Oceanic Conference of International Studies, University of Melbourne, 4-6 July.
    • 2012. 'The Other Shia: Ismaili development practice in an age of "radical Islam" ', Oceanic Conference on International Studies, University of Sydney, 18 – 20 July.
    • 2010. 'The Dynamics of Religion at the World Bank', American Academy of Religion Annual Meeting, Atlanta, Georgia, 1 November.
    • 2008. ‘Modelling Religion in International Relations’, Oceanic Conference on International Studies, University of Queensland, July 2-4.
    • 2006. ‘IR and the New Religionism’, Oceanic Conference on International Studies, University of Melbourne, July 5-7.
    • 2005. ‘Ideology, Theology and the World Bank: Toward a Framework for Analysis’, Secularity and Globalization: What Comes After Modernity? (Keynote: Prof Peter Berger), Calvin College, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 10-12 November.
    • 2005. ‘Religion and the World Bank: Toward an Ideological Analysis’, Department of Economics and International Development, University of Bath, UK, February
  • In the media


    • Monarchies Around the World. Nightlife with Suzanne Hill (ABC Radio). Guests: Robert Hazell, Professor of Government and Constitution at University College London; John Rees, Professor of International Relations at the University of Notre Dame in Sydney. January 9, 2020.
    • The People Vs Democracy (hosted by Josh Szeps). Radio National. Invited panellist, 24 March, 2019.
    • Politics & Society (with James Arvanitakis). Drive with Georgia Hitch. ABC Radio (monthly).
    • Discussing the political relevance monarchies and the death of the Thai King. Mornings with Genevieve Jacobs, ABC Local Radio 666, Canberra, 18 October, 2016.


    • Megachurches and the Living Dead: Intersections of Religion & Politics in Korea, The Religion Gap, June 18, 2018.
    • Peter Berger - Four Benefits of His Work to the Study of Religion in IR, The Religion Gap, July 3, 2017.
    • The Prince, the Pope and a Populist Moment, The Religion Gap, February 11, 2018.
    • Why IR Religionists Should Watch Reza Aslan’s Believer, The Religion Gap, April 24, 2017.
    • "Son of Lies": History, Baghdadi and the Legacy of ISIS, The Religion Gap, June 22, 2016.
    • Citizens Not Zombies: Rethinking Assumptions about US Religious Voters, The Religion Gap, February 25, 2016.
    • Middle Power Religion, The Religion Gap, January 29, 2016.
    • The Francis Paradox: Papal Diplomacy in a Multipolar World, The Religion Gap, November 11, 2015.
    • Lest we forget: religion and the remembrance of war in a secular state, The Religion Gap, May 7, 2015.
    • To be, or not to be [reincarnated] - that is the [political] question, The Religion Gap, April 1, 2015.
    • Like it or not, monarchies are enduring for several reasons, The Conversation, June 7, 2014.
    • Religion and the Ukraine Crisis: Four Key Questions, Religion Factor, March 6, 2014.


    • Interview: 'Politics and Religion' Wesley Impact! TV. Broadcast Channel Nine 19 March, 2017.
    • Interview: On the historic meeting between Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill of the Russian Orthodox Church, SBS World News, 13 February, 2016.


  • Professional affiliations

    • 2020+: International Advisory Board Member, International Journal of Religion (effective July 2020).
    • 2020: External member, Course Development Committee: BA (Western Civilisation) / BA (Western Civilisation) (Honours), Australian Catholic University.
    • 2019+: Co-Chair, International Development & Religion Section, American Academy of Religion.
    • 2018+: Board Member (Oceania), Committee 43 ‘Religion and Politics’, International Political Science Association (IPSA).
    • 2017+: International Advisory Board Member, Philippiniana Sacra, University of Santo Tomas, Manila Philippines.
    • 2015+: Member, International Thomas Merton Society (ITMS).
    • 2014+: Fellow, Centre for Religion, Conflict and Globalisation, University of Groningen, Netherlands.
  • Community engagement

    Invited Lectures, Keynotes, Workshops

    • 2019. Keynote Public Lecture. ‘Inclusive Education: Transforming Lives & Building Nations.’ San Beda University, Manila, Philippines, 8 February.
    • 2018. ‘Foreign Policy and Religion: A Framework for Policymakers.’ University of Washington, WA, USA, 16 October.
    • 2018. Delegate: World Peace Day, Memorial Cathedral of World Peace, Hiroshima. 26 August.
    • 2017: Interfaith panel presentation: ‘The Politics of Religious Freedom: A Framework for Policymakers’. Amnesty International Parliamentary Group, Australian Federal Parliament, Canberra. 19 October.
    • 2017. ‘Thinking About Religion-State Relations Around the World.’ Education forum - NSW Parliament House, Sydney, 10 March.
    • 2015. ‘Religion in the Policy Arena.’ Invited presentation - professional development workshop: Australian Council for International Development Annual Meeting, Canberra, 31 October.
    • 2015. Panel Member: ‘One Day for Peace: religious diversity in Australia.’ Public Forum, Parramatta Town Hall. 23 September.
    • 2014. Seminar Presentation: ‘The Four Religions of Foreign Policy: Toward a New Strategic Dialogue.’ Religion and Society Research Group, Public Lecture and Q&A with Muslim delegation from Indonesia, School of Social Sciences and Psychology, Western Sydney University, 19 November.
    • 2013. Undergraduate Teaching: ‘A History of Australia-US Relations’, University of Portland, February 20.
  • Industry Engagement

    • 2020. Featured in the industry report Ethical Advantage (Deloitte Australia and The Ethics Centre, 2020)
    • 2019. Panelist, ‘Ethics, Opportunity and Risk in an Era of Corporate Social Accountability’. Roundtable with Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Clayton Utz, Governance Institute. Clayton Utz Chambers, Sydney, 15 October.
    • 2019. Keynote Presentation. ‘The Social License and Its Potential’, AFR Deloitte Banking & Wealth Summit, Darling Harbour, 26 March.
  • Funding and Awards

    2020/21: Fulbright Senior Scholar Award, Australia-US Fulbright Commission. Milward L. Simpson Visiting Professor of Politics, Public Affairs & International Studies, University of Wyoming (July-December 2021).
    2014: Vice Chancellor's Teaching Award, University of Notre Dame Australia
    2009: Citations Award for Teaching Excellence, Office of Learning and Teaching (formerly Australian Learning and Teaching Council), Australian Government
    2004: Dr Beth Blackall Prize for Postgraduate Research, Sydney College of Divinity