Made possible by the Sydney Southeast Asia Centre (SSEAC) at the University of Sydney, Dirk participated in a two-day professional development initiative in Sydney in July 2016, involving a policy round table event and a full-day early career reseracher workshop.
Policy round table:
The policy roundtable aimed to provide current political updates on the states in Southeast Asia. Individual country updates were presented by experts from the University of Sydney, as well as interstate and international colleagues. In discussions following each country update, the broader implications of political issues beyond national borders were addressed. Professor Allen Hicken, from the University of Michigan, started proceedings with an overview of politics in Southeast Asia whereby he commented on trends and the current state of democracy across Southeast Asian nations today. The subsequent sessions were divided into three themes: Recent elections and developments: Singapore, Myanmar and the Philippines, Democratic updates: Indonesia, Timor-Leste and Cambodia, Whither democracy?: Thailand and Malaysia. Of particular to me were the presentations on Indonesia and Timor Leste.
ECR professional development workshop:
The ECR professional development workshop aimed to bring together up-and-coming researchers from around Australia, who are focused on Southeast Asia, to discuss a range of professional development topics. It provided an opportunity to network with peers from across the country to learn of eachother’s work and share ideas. Senior academics led proceedings whereby panels provided opportunity to reflect on their career developments, challenges and strategies, and included the likes of Prof Michele Ford (Sydney Southeast Asia Centre, University of Sydney), Prof Warwick Anderson (ARC Laureate Fellow, University of Sydney), Assoc Prof Meredith Weiss (SUNY Albany), Assoc Prof Michael Barr (Flinders University), and Dr Melissa Crouch (UNSW). The workshop was centred around three key topics: professional associations, publishing strategically and collaborations. In addressing these topics the session incorporated discussion on how to navigate the related systems and challenges to maximise benefits.
Participating in the ECR workshop helped to show different ways to improve one’s research profile by applying more strategic and effective approaches to publishing. Given the increasing constraints on my time and opportunity to write we all have to dea with nowadays, this was highly useful. The close engagement with ECR peers and senior academics during the workshop, also helped to learn about others’ research and gain latest insights and development in our discipline.
The events formed a wonderful platform to learn from others' experiences (and frustrations), while also sharing my own. The success of these events left me hoping this would be a recurring annual initiative. If so, I would strongly encourage other ECRs interested in Southeast Asian studies to attend these.