For the love of law
Meet Professor Anita Stuhmcke, our new Associate Dean (Research).
UTS Law’s new Associate Dean (Research), Professor Anita Stuhmcke believes passionately in the power of the Law to bring about social change and improve people’s lives.
She has amassed a strong body of research with the most common thread being access to justice and the promotion of people’s abilities to understand and exercise their legal rights.
Despite her strong commitment, Anita freely admits that growing up in a seaside community north of Newcastle, there was no single defining moment that pushed her into the study of Law:
It was more of a slow burn. My process of informed decision making was somewhat complicated by living outside a major city and not knowing anyone who had studied law or having anyone to ask what studying law meant.
It was also a time when school careers advisers were often limited in their suggested professions for young women.
With the idea that whatever she did, she wanted to ‘make a difference’, Anita thought briefly about journalism but decided on a Law Degree and enrolled at Macquarie University.
The move from a small town to a city University is often daunting for young people but that wasn’t the case for Anita – perhaps because she arrived at Macquarie via Germany – after a year as an exchange student in Hamburg:
After those 12 months, it was easier moving to Sydney. It was at least in the same country and much closer to home.
Anita thrived at university and graduated first in her year – she followed the traditional path of a clerkship at a big city law firm but it took her less than two years to decide it just wasn’t for her so she took the leap into academia and found the ‘right fit’ – firstly at the University of Western Sydney and then at UTS.
Professor Stuhmcke has seen a lot of changes in her 24 years with the Faculty:
The commitment to excellence in teaching and learning is a constant. I have also been privileged to be a part of the Faculty's research trajectory. I have seen it grow in stature to become a recognised national leader in this field– excelling in high quality research, a commitment to social justice and excellence in end-user engagement and research impact.
She has also seen the Faculty adapt to the changing nature of the legal profession and the application of law to society and social need more generally – with the introduction of new subjects and the development of innovative areas of research and engagement.
It hasn’t exactly been the smoothest beginning in her new role – within weeks of Professor Stuhmcke taking up the position, COVID19 was declared a global pandemic and everything changed.
Fortunately, her years in the Faculty are a distinct advantage at this time – she is already familiar with her academic colleagues and has an understanding of their research interests.
These are challenging times for the whole tertiary sector and Anita believes academic research is more critical than ever - because it has the capacity to influence and shape the law and to have a real impact socially, economically and politically on the way we work and live.
Professor Stuhmcke is up for the challenge:
This position is a privilege because I have such excellent colleagues. I really enjoy talking with them about their interests and their research. In this role I hope to support them to reach their goals and further their research careers. I do believe that legal research can change the world. Personally, it’s still about making a difference – I am just doing it now in my own way.
INTERESTED IN STUDYING WITH US? Law research degrees at UTS