UNSW Sydney Scientia Professor and leading lawyer on Indigenous constitutional recognition, Megan Davis, has been appointed visiting professor of Australian studies at Harvard University.
UNSW Scientia Professor Megan Davis, Pro Vice-Chancellor, Society, will visit Harvard University as the Gough Whitlam and Malcolm Fraser Chair of Australian Studies and visiting professor of law at Harvard Law School for the 2024-2025 academic year.
Prof. Davis said she was thrilled to be named the Whitlam Fraser Chair and visiting professor at one of the world’s pre-eminent universities.
“It’s a tremendous opportunity to work with some of the leading academics in the field at Harvard Law,” Prof. Davis said.
Prof. Davis is Pro Vice-Chancellor, Society and Scientia Professor at UNSW, where she has held the Balnaves Chair for Constitutional Law since 2020. She previously served as the University’s Pro Vice-Chancellor, Indigenous.
Her research is focused on constitutional design, democratic theory, and Indigenous constitutional rights and recognition.
UNSW Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Attila Brungs congratulated Prof. Davis on her highly prestigious appointment.
“It is incredibly well deserved and a great opportunity to engage with some of the leading scholars at Harvard. I have no doubt that Megan Davis will add tremendous value there, help foster the rich intellectual discourse between our two countries and through that continue to drive for positive societal change.
“The appointment highlights the importance of the ideas and discussion of Indigenous constitutional recognition in an international university context,” Prof. Brungs said.
Prof. Davis served on three prime ministerial bodies on constitutional recognition from 2011-2023, the Prime Minister’s Expert Panel, the Referendum Council and Referendum Working Group. Prof. Davis led the design of the deliberative constitutional dialogues that led to the Uluru Statement from the Heart and the law reform proposal for a Voice that led to the 2023 referendum. She is co-chair of the Uluru Dialogue – the group of First Nations leaders who led the constitutional recognition effort.
In 2022, Prof. Davis was co-awarded the prestigious Sydney Peace Prize in recognition of her work on the Uluru Statement from the Heart, was named as one of Australia’s top five powerbrokers in the law for 2022 and in 2023 was named on TIME magazine's NEXT100 2023 list of the next generation of global leaders and the Marie Claire Australia Powerhouse of the Year.
Prof. Davis has worked for over two decades as an international human rights lawyer and independent expert with the United Nations. She was a leading Australian drafter of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (1999 to 2005).
Prof. Davis served two terms on the United Nations Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous People (EMRIP), from 2017 to 2022, including as chair from 2021 to 2022 and served as an expert on the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues from 2011 to 2016 and as chair in 2016. She has also been a UN Fellow of Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
Aside from constitutional law reform, Prof. Davis also co-chaired the Queensland government's independent Review of Youth Detention Centres in Queensland in 2016 and chaired an inquiry into Aboriginal children in out-of-home care in NSW 2017-2019.
Since 2010, Prof. Davis has served as an Acting Commissioner of the Land and Environment Court of New South Wales.
Prof. Davis is a fellow of the Australian Academy of Law, the Australian Academy of Social Sciences and the Australian Academy of the Humanities. Prof. Davis is also an Australian Rugby League Commissioner.