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Mohammad Abdul-Hwas

Mohammad Abdul-Hwas

PhD Candidate


Mohammad’s research focuses on refugee governance and deliberative democracy. His passion to study and research a refugees’ affairs is drawn from his family’s Palestinian heritage. Before moving to Australia, Mohammad completed his undergraduate degree in business at Auckland University of Technology, New Zealand. He then worked at Fairfax Media and completed a Postgraduate Diploma at Massey University. In 2016, he completed his Master of Management from University of Canberra. It was while pursuing his master’s degree that Mohammad dove into the world of leadership and governance. Connecting with Syrian refugees drove Mohammad to research deliberative democracy, with the ambition to improve the experience and agency for people caught in a refugee crisis.


Mohammad’s PhD thesis is titled “The governance of refugees from a deliberative system perspective: The case of Syrian refugee crisis”. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) describes the Syrian refugee crisis as ‘the largest displacement crisis of our time’. Using a deliberative systems approach, the research demonstrates the various ways in which decisions that impact the lives of refugees are made. Deliberative system is a fitting approach to understand the relationship between vulnerable communities and decision-makers, particularly its normative emphasis on inclusiveness, authenticity, and consequentiality. Mohammad conducted eight weeks of extensive fieldwork in refugee camps and urban centres in Jordan to investigate all aspects that surround refugee’s governance and decision making.

There are two key reasons for this research benefit. First, humanitarian actors hold power in managing the lives of refugees; It is worth investigating how they conduct politics, and whether their practices serve to promote decisions that are justifiable to those who will experience their impact. Second, refugee governance and deliberative democracy emerge from different traditions, these two fields are running on parallel tracks; They need to be connected to identify pathways by which refugees can gain voice and influence in shaping their future, and to investigate whether humanitarian actors can do better.

PhD supervisors

  • Nicole Curato (Primary Supervisor)

  • Brendan McCaffrie (Secondary Supervisor)

Conference Presentations

  • “The potential and limits of deliberative democracy in the governance of refugee crisis”. New Zealand Political Studies Association (NZPSA) Annual Conference, November 30, 2022. The University of Waikato, New Zealand (Virtual Conference).

  • “Governance of refugee crisis from a deliberative approach: Focus on public and empowered spaces”. Australian Political Studies Association (APSA) Annual Conference, September 27, 2022. Australian National University, Australia.

  • “Governing the Syrian refugee crisis: A deliberative assessment”. NEXT Generation Deliberation Celebration Symposium, June 10, 2021. KU Leuven University, Belgium (Virtual Conference).

  • “The role of deliberation in governing the Syrian refugee crisis: Insights from the field”. Deliberative Democracy Seminar Series, October 6, 2020. University of Canberra, Australia.

  • “Governing the Syrian refugee crisis: A deliberative perspective”. Australian Political Studies Association (APSA) Conference. September 18, 2020. Virtual Conference.

  • “The role of deliberation in governance of the Syrian refugee crisis”. Deliberative Democracy Summer School. February 5, 2020. University of Canberra, Australia.


  • Mohammad is part of a global research team on the Global Assembly on the Climate and Ecological Emergency. He is one of thirty researchers from around the world.


  • Co-organizer, Centre for Deliberative Democracy and Global Governance’s Book reception 2022.

  • Co-organizer, Centre for Deliberative Democracy and Global Governance’s Book Harvest 2020.

News & Press

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