ARC Laureate Program on
Balancing Diversity and Social Cohesion in Democratic Constitutions
Balancing Diversity and Social Cohesion in Democratic Constitutions aims to address the need to reconcile the tensions between the pursuit of diversity and the promotion of social cohesion. This critical problem becomes increasingly urgent as nations grapple with the challenges of highly diverse multi-cultural societies.
Professor Adrienne Stone, Kathleen Fitzpatrick Australian Laureate Fellow, will assemble a new interdisciplinary research team comprising leading scholars in law, world-class early career researchers, and innovative practitioners to enhance the capacity of comparative constitutional law, and enhance their skillset.
The team of researchers shall draw on the experience of constitutionalism throughout the world to investigate how Constitutions, in their design and in their application, can unify while nurturing the diversity appropriate for a complex, modern society. Markers for the project are to understand how best to balance the pursuit of diversity and social cohesion in constitutional democracies, to provide guidance to established and emerging constitutional orders, and to develop the methodological foundations of comparative constitutional law. Results from the project are intended to help governments, judiciaries and the public to resolve intense controversies over ideals.
The Laureate Program will include opportunities for collaboration, debate and information sharing through conferences, round tables and visiting fellowships. The Laureate Visiting Fellowships in Comparative Constitutional is supported by the Kathleen Fitzpatrick Fellowship Scheme and funded by the Australian Research Council, annually from 2016 – 2021.
ARC Laureate Fellow
Professor Adrienne Stone
Adrienne Stone is Redmond Barry Distinguished Professor and Director of the Centre for Comparative Constitutional Studies at Melbourne Law School. She researches in the areas of constitutional law and constitutional theory with particular attention to freedom of expression. She is a Kathleen Fitzpatrick Australian Laureate Fellow and her Laureate Program on Comparative Constitutional Law assembles a research team to investigate challenges to liberal democratic constitutionalism.
She has published widely in international and Australian journals including, recently, in the Federal Law Review, Vienna Journal of International Constitutional Law, International Journal of Constitutional Law, and Constitutional Commentary. She is the author (with Carolyn Evans) of Open Minds: Academic Freedom and Freedom of Speech (2021). With Cheryl Saunders AO, she is editor of the Oxford Handbook on the Australian Constitution(2018) and with Frederick Schauer, she is editor of the Oxford Handbook on Freedom of Speech (2021).
Dr Erika Arban
Dr. Erika Arban is a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Laureate Program in Comparative Constitutional Law. Her research interests include comparative federalism, comparative constitutional law and legal research methodology. She also lectures in Comparative Federalism at the University of Antwerp (Belgium). Erika is co-editor of the Blog of the International Association of Constitutional Law (IACL) and she is the co-convenor of the new IACL research group New Frontiers of Federalism. Erika received her PhD at the University of Ottawa (Canada), where her doctoral thesis “Italian Regionalism and the Federal Challenge” was awarded the Governor General Gold Medal for the best thesis in the Humanities. She also holds a LLM from the University of Arizona (USA) and a Bachelor in Law from the University of Trieste (Italy). Before joining the Melbourne Law School, Erika was a lecturer (part-time) at the University of Ottawa.
Senior Research Associate
Dr Stijn Smet
Stijn Smet is Assistant Professor of Constitutional Law at Hasselt University and Senior Research Associate to the Laureate Program in Comparative Constitutional Law at Melbourne Law School. Stijn holds a PhD in Law from Ghent University. Prior to joining Hasselt University, he was a Postdoctoral Fellow at Melbourne Law School (March 2017 – August 2018) and at Ghent University (October 2014 – February 2017). At Hasselt University, Stijn teaches Constitutional Law, Public Law, Legal Protection against the Government, and Law and Power (the first three in Dutch). His primary research expertise is in comparative constitutional law, with a focus on religious freedom, and in human rights law, a focus on conflicts of rights. Stijn is particularly interested in the role of tolerance in law, both generally and in relation to religious freedom specifically. He is the author of Resolving Conflicts between Human Rights: The Judge’s Dilemma (Routledge, 2017 (hardcover) and 2018 (paperback)) and co-editor of When Human Rights Clash at the European Court of Human Rights: Conflict or Harmony? (OUP, 2017). Stijn has published among others in Human Rights Law Review, American University International Law Review, Journal of Media Law and Religion & Human Rights. His work has been cited by the European Court of Human Rights (in separate opinions).
Dr Dinesha Samararatne
Dr. Dinesha Samararatne is a Senior Lecturer at the Department of Public & International Law at the Faculty of Law of the University of Colombo. At the University of Colombo, Dinesha has been teaching Administrative Law, Constitutional Law and Human Rights Law. Previously she was a Postdoctoral Fellow in the ARC Laureate Program in Comparative Constitutional Law where she studied constitution-making in post-war contexts (2019-2020). Dinesha is a Co-Convenor of Constitution Transformation Network (CTN) of the Melbourne Law School, a Co-Editor of the Blog of the International Association for Constitutional Law (IACL) and a member of the Editorial Board of the Indian Law Review. Her recent research work has been in relation to public participation in constitution-making, constitutional resilience, women and constitutional law, and the relevance of the global south in comparative constitutional law. Dinesha has previously been affiliated with the Centre on Comparative Constitutional Law as a Kathleen Fitzpatrick Visiting Fellow (April – May 2018). Dinesha has published in the Asian Journal of Comparative Law, Journal of Law and Society, Indian Law Review, Asian Journal of Law and Society, the Modern Law Review and the Journal of Asian Studies.
Mr Darshan Datar
Darshan Datar is a doctoral candidate with the Laureate Program in Comparative Constitutional Law. He holds two LL.M degrees from the Central European University, Budapest in Comparative Constitutional Law (2015-16) and the European University Institute (2017-18). His research is focused on the concept of religion followed by constitutional courts. His other research interests include theoretical accounts of secularism and constitutionalism.
Ms Toerien van Wyk
Toerien van Wyk is a doctoral candidate in the ARC Laureate Program in Comparative Constitutional Law. Her interests are in comparative constitutional law, human rights and information law. Before joining the project, she was the Co-Director of the South African History Archive, a non-profit organisation dedicated to supporting struggles for justice through the use of access to information laws and archival practice. Toerien holds a Master of Laws: Human Rights Law degree (LLM) (cum laude) and a Higher Diploma in International Taxation from the University of Johannesburg as well as a Baccalaureus Legum degree (LLB) from the University of South Africa. Toerien has experienced working in many facets of human rights law and has previously been employed as a legal consultant, a human rights researcher, and a law lecturer. Her research is in comparative constitutional law, with a focus on the protection and promotion of information flow. Her doctoral research explores international and African communally-centered understandings of access to information and freedom of expression. It considers how the flow of information, particularly between the state and residents of the state, ought to be given constitutional protection.
Gabrielle Dalsasso is the Program Manager for the Laureate Fellowship in Comparative Constitutional Law. Prior to joining Melbourne Law School, she has held senior administrative positions related to events and training in corporate and not-for-profit organisations.
Supported by the Kathleen Fitzpatrick Fellowship Scheme
Funded by the Australian Research Council
2016 – 2022
The Laureate Visiting Fellowships in Constitutional Law offers outstanding female doctoral and female early career researchers the opportunity to participate in an intensive mentoring program relative to the Laureate Program with Professor Adrienne Stone, ARC Kathleen Fitzpatrick Australian Laureate Fellow, for up to two months; and includes involvement in events, workshops, and conferences.
Funding support is available towards the costs of travel to, and accommodation in, Melbourne. The amount will be allocated on a case-by-case basis. As such, applicants should consider the cost implication before applying, as there may be out-of-pocket expenses not covered by the Fellowship. Visiting fellows from outside Australia are responsible for obtaining and funding any necessary visas.
The Laureate Visiting Fellowships in Comparative Constitutional is supported by the Kathleen Fitzpatrick Fellowship Scheme and funded by the Australian Research Council, annually from 2016 – 2022.
Unfortunately, Visiting Fellowship opportunities are on hold due to the global COVID-19 health situation and border closures. We hope the program will recommence in 2022.
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The Laureate Program in Comparative Constitutional Law hosted a variety of events, including podcasts, book launches, conferences, seminars, and workshops.
Constitutional Café Podcasts
A podcast about constitutions and constitutional law globally.
Panel Discussion & Book Launch: Open Minds. Academic & Freedom of Speech
Melbourne Institute of Comparative Constitutional Law (MICCL)
View further information on past MICCL conferences.
Democracy 2020: Assessing Constitutional Decay, Breakdown, and Renewals Worldwide
Presented in partnership with IACL-AIDC and Melbourne School of Government
Freedom of Speech Symposium
This symposium was held in 2018 where scholars from a range of disciplines with interests in freedom of speech gathered.
Cities in Federal Theory Workshop
2019 workshop gathered scholars from around the world and engaged in a broad discussion about the role and place of cities in federalism.
Making Constitutions Workshop
This workshop is a joint initiative of the Laureate Program in Comparative Constitutional Law and Constitution Transformation Network at Melbourne Law School.