Someone once said that there is a life outside Teluk Sepanggar. Indeed there is. In Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam, scholarship is experiencing a transformation in different ways. Formerly schooled in Marxist/Lenist ideologies and accompanying methodologies (historical materialism), scholars are now being coached into thinking liberalism (individualism, ‘value neutral’ research) and so on. In academia, in addition to the national language, the language being used is changing from Russian or French to English.
One of those agencies involved in the educational aspect of transformation of Indo China is the International Foundation for Science of Sweden (IFS). IFS is a grants making body that funds fieldwork costs to promising young scholars in social and natural sciences from developing countries.
For developing countries that need them, IFS holds workshops in proposal writing that are geared specifically towards its requirements. One such workshop was held in Phnom Penh, Cambodia from 26 April to 1 May 2009, jointly sponsored by IFS, the Southeast Asian Research Centre for Agriculture (SEARCA), Los Banos, and the Ministry of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries of Cambodia. Thirteen participants from Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam attended the workshop.
Two resource persons were invited, one from the Philippines and the other from Malaysia in the person of Associate Prof. Dr. Fadzilah Majid Cooke. I found in the venue a perfect opportunity for to introducing Universiti Malaysia Sabah to Indo China.
Above all, I learnt from the participants that natural resource use and abuse are conditioned somewhat by differing political trajectories, geographies (pronounced dry and wet seasons, uplands, lowlands and deltas prone to flooding), as well as social change that attempts to deal with recent historical upheavals through national forgetting (Cambodia) or selective memory of history (Vietnam). Scholars are largely saddled by difficulties of funding and obtaining up to date reference materials as well as equipment (especially for the natural scientists).
For those interested in applying for the grants, the details are as follows:
INTERNATIONAL FOUNDATION OF SCIENCE GRANTS FOR YOUNG SCHOLARS
Amount : US$12,000 maximum, renewable twice, upon successful completing of the first one.
Applications Due: Twice a year (please visit the IFS website).
Young scholars means: 1) being below 40, but not necessarily. If you are above 40, for as long as you are within 5 years of completing your PhD you are eligible.
2) Having a master’s degree or working towards a PhD. If you are above 40 you will still be funded if your proposal is outstanding.
Advantage: the worldwide competition means it is tough, but getting a grant from IFS carries a high level of prestige.
NOTE: FOR SPECIFIC DETAILS IF YOU NEED THEM, PLEASE CONTACT DR. FADZILAH (firstname.lastname@example.org or ext. 1836). SHE SITS ON THE SCIENTIFIC ADVISORY COMMITTEE (SAC) FOR THE SOCIAL SCIENCES, WHICH DEALS WITH APPLICATIONS FROM AROUND THE WORLD TWICE A YEAR. SHE HAS BEEN IN THE SOCIAL SCIENCE SAC SINCE 2005.