Professor Rory Medcalf AM FAIIA has been Head of the National Security College (NSC) at the Australian National University since 2015. He has led the expansion of the College into policy impact, futures analysis, parliamentary engagement, international dialogue and capacity-building, in addition to its core activity in executive development, academic education and research. It is trusted as a go-to institution in Australia’s security landscape, with exceptional networks and an alumni of more than 10,000 policy practitioners.
Rory Medcalf’s professional background involves three decades of experience across diplomacy, intelligence analysis, think tanks, academia and journalism, including as founding Director of the International Security Program at the Lowy Institute from 2007 to 2015. In government, he worked as a senior strategic analyst with the then Office of National Assessments (now the Office of National Intelligence), Canberra’s peak intelligence analysis agency. He was also an Australian diplomat, with wide experience including a posting to New Delhi, a secondment to the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, truce monitoring after the conflict in Bougainville and policy development on Asian security institutions. He has contributed to three landmark reports on nuclear arms control: the 1996 Canberra Commission, 1999 Tokyo Forum and 2009 International Commission on Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament. His earlier work in journalism was commended in Australia’s leading media awards, the Walkleys, in 1991.
Professor Medcalf has been prominent in developing Australia’s relations with India, and convenes informal diplomatic dialogues (‘track 1.5’ and ‘track 2’) with many Indo-Pacific powers. He has been recognised as a thought leader internationally for his work on the Indo-Pacific concept of the Asian strategic environment, as articulated in his 2020 book Contest for the Indo-Pacific (released internationally as Indo-Pacific Empire and translated into Japanese and Chinese).
He was an independent adviser to the Australian Government’s 2016 Defence White Paper. He is a member of the editorial board of the Australian Journal of International Affairs. He has been a Nonresident Senior Fellow with the Brookings Institution and the Lowy institute. His is a member of the Board of the National Foundation for Australia-China Relations, the ASEAN Regional Forum Register of Experts and Eminent Persons, and the Scientific Advisory Council of the Finnish Institute for International Affairs.
In 2022, Professor Medcalf was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for services to international relations and tertiary education. That year he was also recognised with a commendation from the Japanese Foreign Minister for services to Australia-Japan relations. In 2023, he was appointed a Fellow of the Australian Institute for International Affairs (FAIIA) for contributions to understanding of the Indo-Pacific.