Academic Profile : Faculty

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Dr Leonard C. Sebastian
Senior Fellow, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
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Leonard C. Sebastian is Associate Professor and Coordinator of the Indonesia Programme at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS). He is author of Realpolitik Ideology: Indonesia’s Use of Military Force (Institute of Southeast Asian Studies and Cambridge University Press, 2006 and 2015) and his refereed articles have been published in the Journal of Strategic Studies, Asia Policy, Indonesia, TRaNS: Trans-Regional and -National Studies of Southeast Asia, South East Asia Research, Defence & Security Analysis, Soccer & Society, Education About Asia, China International Strategy Review, Cambridge Review of International Affairs, Southeast Asian Affairs, and Contemporary Southeast Asia.

He is a contributor to International Relations in Southeast Asia: The Struggle for Autonomy (Rowman & Littlefield, 2005). He is a co-author with Jonathan Chen and Adhi Priamarizki of Indonesia Beyond Reformasi: Necessity and the ‘De-Centering” of Democracy, Maryland Series in Contemporary Asian Studies, no. 3 – 2014 (218), Carey School of Law, University of Maryland. With Jonathan Chen, and Emirza Adi Syailendra he authored an IDSS/RSIS Monograph titled Pemuda Rising: Why Indonesia Should Pay Attention to its Youth. Together with Finn Laursen and Imtiaz Hussain he is Editor of the Global Political Transitions – a book series of Palgrave Macmillan. With Dr Christopher Roberts and Dr Ahmad Habir, he co-edited Indonesia’s Ascent: Power, Leadership and the Regional Order (Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015). This book project and the accompanying policy report was funded by the National Security College, Crawford School of Public Policy, The Australian National University.

His latest books are two co-edited volumes Rising Islamic Conservatism in Indonesia: Islamic Groups and Identity Politics and The 2018 and 2019 Indonesian Elections: Identity Politics and Regional Perspectives published by Routledge on January 2021 respectively. He is currently co-editing a special issue of the peer-reviewed Journal of Asian Security and International Affairs on the theme “Indonesia’s Foreign and Maritime Policies: Domestic and External Determinants” for publication in late 2021.

Having completed a 5-year scholarship bond at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS) where he served as Fellow from February 1995 to September 2000, Assoc Prof Sebastian joined RSIS or as it was then called the Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies as Senior Fellow in October 2000. He received his PhD from the Australian National University in 1997 where he was affiliated to the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre. Over the course of his RSIS career, he has received grants from the Nanyang Technological University/Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Defence, Ministry of Home Affairs and Temasek Foundation for his research and networking initiatives. In October 2003, Dr Sebastian was awarded a research grant from the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) after an open international competition to study militant Islamic movements in Indonesia. Research undertaken resulted in a confidential report titled “Contesting Islam in Indonesia: A Contextual Study of Muslim Militancy”. In April 2005 he was a Freeman Fellow with The Asia Foundation. He was awarded the Fulbright Research Award in 2005 and was a Visiting Fulbright Scholar at the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs at Harvard University from September to December 2005.

In 2007, Dr Sebastian participated in the inaugural Program of the Presidential Friends of Indonesia hosted by Kementerian Luar Negeri Republik Indonesia. From 2008-2010 he served as consultant to Kementerian Pertahanan Republik Indonesia advising on the establishment of the Indonesian Defence University (UNHAN, Universitas Pertahanan). Assoc Prof Sebastian also serves as Member, Board of International Advisors, SBY Presidential Center, Honorary Advisor to the Board of the Ancora Foundation and the Bakrie Center Foundation.

During his service for RSIS Senior Management (2006-2014) he raised over $3.7 million worth of donations for RSIS. In January 2011, as consultant to The Asia Foundation, he served as International Policy Advisor to the Timor-Leste Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation (Ministério dos Negócios Estrangeiros-Timor-Leste) and assisted the Ministry in organizing its first ASEAN meeting. Between February 2015 and February 2016 he was Consultant to the ASEAN Secretariat undertaking a study assessing Timor-Leste’s ASEAN membership application and its implications for the ASEAN Security and Political Commu­nity pillar.

He is concurrently Professor (Adjunct) at the Institute for Governance and Policy Analyses, University of Canberra having previously held an appointment as Adjunct Associate Professor at the University of New South Wales (UNSW Canberra at the Australian Defence Force Academy-July 2016 to July 2018). Since 2002, he has served as a member of the Advisory Panel to the Government Parliamentary Committee on Defence and Foreign Affairs (GPC-DFA). A regular visitor to Indonesia where he lectures at Universities, NGO organisations and Think-Tanks, his talks are aimed at bridging the gap between academic and policy relevant research. He lectures regularly at various government and security agencies, both in Singapore and abroad.
• Indonesian Politics
• Indonesian Defence and Security Policy
• Indonesian Foreign Policy Trends
• Political Islam and Militant Movements in Indonesia
• Indonesian Counter-terrorism Strategy
• Indonesian Political Economy and Decentralisation
• Singapore-Indonesia Relations
• Regional Security Developments in Southeast Asia with special reference to normative structures, the ASEAN Political and Security Community concept, and neo-classical realist approaches including the impact of domestic policy on foreign policy decision making
• Democratic Transitions in Asia
• Civil-military Relations in Asia.
  • Integrating Volcano and Earthquake Science and Technology (InVEST) in Southeast Asia
  • Steering a Middle Way: Great Power Technological Competition in Indonesia and Vietnam
Courses Taught
AS6010 State and Politics in Modern Indonesia

S6041 Comparative Civil-Military relations: In Theory and Practice