Elena Williams
MA Anth. & Dev (ANU), BA Hons 1, Indon. & Malay Stud. (USyd), BA Comm. & Intl Stud. (UTS)
PhD candidate and Higher Education Consultant

Elena Williams is a higher education consultant and PhD researcher within the Department of Anthropology at the School of Culture, History & Language.

Elena’s research interrogates how the impact of DFAT-funded study abroad programs to Indonesia has been felt by Australian students studying there, and by Indonesian communities hosting them. By speaking directly with students and host communities, asking them to define and reconceptualise what the ‘impact’ of study abroad means to them in their own lives, Elena’s research sheds new light on what constitutes ‘people-to-people’ relationship building, from the lived experiences of those directly involved.

Prior to commencing doctoral studies, Elena worked for more than 10 years in education and development roles in Indonesia, including as the Indonesia-based Resident Director for The Australian Consortium for ‘In-Country’ Indonesian Studies (ACICIS) between 2013 and 2017, managing study abroad programs in Indonesia funded through DFAT’s New Colombo Plan scholarship scheme. She has worked as a consultant in learning abroad roles with The University of Melbourne, The Victorian Department of Education, Palladium and Tetra Tech. She regularly publishes and presents on Australia-Indonesia education issues in the media and contributes to government rountdtables and policy submissions on Australia-Indonesia relations (see ANU media profile: https://reporter.anu.edu.au/people/elena-williams).

Elena holds a Masters of Applied Anthropology and Participatory Development (Gender Studies) from ANU, a BA Honours in Indonesian Studies from The University of Sydney, and a BA Communications and International Studies (Indonesian) from The University of Technology Sydney. Elena currently serves on the boards of DFAT’s Australia-Indonesia Institute and ANU’s Indonesia Institute, and is a panel member for The Australia-Indonesia Youth Exchange Program, The New Colombo Plan, and The Australia Awards Indonesia’s selection committees. In 2022 Elena was awarded ANU’s Sir Raymond Firth Research Prize and in 2021 ANU’s Ruth Daroesman Graduate Study Grant in recognition of her research on the Australia-Indonesia relationship.

Research Interest

Anthropology, student mobility, Indonesia

HDR Supervisor/s

Tanya Jakimow

Thesis Title/Topic

'Transforming the self, transforming the relationship? Understanding the impact of study abroad programs on Australia-Indonesia relationship building.'

Expertise Area(s)

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