Center for Peace and Conflict Studies Chulalongkorn University
Workshop for Management of Transformations by Dr. Christina Von Furstenburg
28 August 2013, CUSRI 4th Floor, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand
1. Transferred the knowledge on social transitions management in the context of a Globalizing world from international scholars to the Chulalongkorn academic community, in order to enhance the policy-relevant social science research field which aims to build a platform for sustainable development.
2. Form a future cooperation which may foster the international, interdisciplinary and comparative policy research, in relation to global and regional studies, as well as platform which could semantically link and compare the research materials to the academic community worldwide.
1. A one-day workshop which includes sessions from Dr. Christina von Furstenberg, Chief of Social and Human Sciences Sector, UNESCO.
2. A closed-group discussion on the roadmap of social science research network platform, which will expectedly lead to a development of collaborating project proposals between Chulalongkorn University and international research institutions
Dr. Christina has given an overview of the MOST programs starting with MOST Secretariat and Field Officers with 36 member states in Intergovernmental Council (IGC). Coming up with an executive body (IGC Bureau), they include a president and rapporteur and 6 vice presidents for each world region to imply the UN terms. The program now has a president, Dr.Alicia Kirchner, currently staying in the position for 4 years. She is also a Social Minister. The reason to have this position is because MOST programs have been serving as criteria to setting up ministerial for minister in charge of social affairs, getting an internationally network, exposing to its others and connecting to its operation. There is a Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC) which is made up of 6 experts which totally comes from different participants obviously gender-balance and there must be from the 6 world regions. Then it can be seen with International / Regional Partners, International/Regional Social Science Research Councils, Network of Universities.
Moreover, Dr.Christina has drawn features of characteristics between a social scientist and politicians by comparing in perceptions, languages and methods of presenting studies. In addition, Science begins with 4 steps; make an observation, propose a possible model to explain, draw implications and testingwhile Politics will go with identify an issue, propose possible mechanisms to change status quo, work out political ramification and implement.
Also, talking about a typical example of social research, it is about all the steps; Start with an observation, find a model or explanation, figure out the implications and Check whether the implications correspond to the facts. Another major aim of UNESCO’s MOST programme is the research-policy nexus. The policy involves a multitude of actors that engage in complex ritualised interactions in the production and implementation of policy. Shedding, empirically and theoretically, light on the ways that they promote and/or employ social research will help us envisage different ways of building the nexus. Social Science Research will certainly help in improving a relationship. This intellectual exercise also requires reflection on scientific status on the social research and its capacity to facilitate public deliberation and democratically informed choices.
In the workshop session, there has been an interacting among participants stating with the question from Associate Professor Dr. Chantana Banpasirichote Wungaeo that asking about the achievement of MOST in experience of implementationin particular countries and becoming politics of knowledge in social science and the new institution as well as within the social science community itself. The answer is that MOST is the social science research program one in which government is interested so MOST can convoke the government while the universities cannot. In some way, MOST improves the way the culture consensus which even conflicts in country have learn to better relate to each other. Also, there are 3 clusters which are thinking, shaping and debating. The thinking cluster is the one in extensive research in inter-disciplinary features. Enlisting participation of government and of responsible for any who implement policies can also be counted. A lot of research has been done to design the role and found out its accurate that can accelerate policy agenda and give politicians a sense of owning project themselves. Additionally, MOST also does methodological research on a good practices relating to positive transformation that have already taking place. Many online publications have come out. However, the member states would like to see a database of successful transformation experiences but it still have not been seen as a major transformation yet because it cannot prove it by only a certain policy sector has work out. For the time being, there are 2 priority themes; social inclusion and global environmental change which are sustainability agenda. MOST has made a lot of inter-disciplinary research.
MOST are looking for a member state to apply its methodology and getting access in their political achievement. One methodology is talking about capacity and intellectual ventures and all of these go into their major constitute which are minister of social development. They establish the regular gathering of research materials. Dr. Christina suggested that Thailand would volunteer such ministerial meeting like in Pakistan and Srilanka that they have been done in. The Secretariat is commissioning all the research report in coordination in their regional counterpart so MOST is getting a lot of outstanding scientific materials. Dr. Christina said that she was addicted to comparability of any whom coming up with their context specific research. MOST is trying to coordinate them and picking up context specific research. Then, it will be online publishing after having been online peer review. The online peer review process is also a none-spoken democratic issue. All in all, MOST has been in methodology venture, substantial research venture and mandated to be capacity builder. Besides, Thing about doing something with young talented people who are far more committed in other study areas will be considered. Medical doctors, social scientist and environmentalist are the most committed individual. If MOST can also commit the Humanist by providing capacity support, those people will be feeling take into account.
Furthermore, MOST has to do some base line work in terms of culture acceptance for stratification in Asian society; gathering and building up policy space and customizing systematic language for the user who does not like scientific language but needs a result and to get publish.
Prof. Surichai also shares his thoughts that Thailand is an executive member of UNESCO. UNESCO is separated from the university so we have no dialogue. Thailand does not aware that they should make user UNESCO more important resources to be tapped for the challenges over time. If we are not prepared to look at UNESCO as it should be a place for interacting or some more relevant issues. The world of UNESCO is under a lot of pressure because The American withdraws the support of UNESCO when they accept Palestine as a member of UNESCO last 2 years ago so Dr. Christina is the one who has been very much devoted in social science under the pressure because there was a time of financial crisis. Then, the director general almost tries to abandon social science and human science section and make it merge with something else. Luckily, it is not. The money spent in UNESCO for education is a lot but Social Science contribution to the challenges of humanity of global change; people talk a lot that they has not supported. UNESCO is legitimated to make sense that we need Social Science, Humanity and Human Understanding why human behavior don’t change despite we have so much crisis under this global change. UNESCO has a legitimate role but it is under pressure and the work of Dr.Christina in this context is very challenging.
After that, Dr.Christina explains that there has been an attempt to establish social science altogether. They were merged and worse even scattered all over the place a little bit to natural science and perhaps social inclusion or education. It was very stressful. Her famous open-ended access to scientific production which is sensitive and complex is not to the liking of everybody. Everybody needs to think about working and believing in the institution. She would like her project to be an absolute project that anybody can put their sensitive specific research.
One of the participants also shares her experience about teaching people to be a good negotiator and she would like to study how to make Muslim people to think about what they should think. In this issue, Dr. Christina exchanged her idea that it is an empowerment issue which has to overcome and make young people do move. It is difficult enough when you are stratified political setup and it can work out tragically. There will be a lot of disturbance which cannot be overcome at once.
The dean of department of Sociology and Anthropology of Thammasat University, Assistant Professor Dr. Jirapa Vorasiangsook, agreed that academics and researchers should work together to upgrade their roles in order to make research policy to go hand in hand. However, social scientists have not proved that they can solve social problems. If it can be done, there will be a more coming academician who has a tendency to be interested in social science. This is an only way to prove ourselves and make our research project or research findings to be policy oriented and implemented.
An opinion from the academician, Dr. Buapan Prompakping, from Kon Kaen University comes up that we have been in a tradition on ideology thinking that the state has never been an audience before. Our thoughts are guided by politicians who make us lost our academic freedom. Thus, to maintain our academic freedom is necessary. We expects the students to work for the state, government sector so it is need to reform and think carefully about it; what to do, who to serve, who are the audiences and where civil society can fit. We assume that civil society always with the university but it is not happened in Thailand.
Coming back to Prof. Surichai, he agreed with Dr.Buapan that we need to think about the target group of knowledge organizing and who to work with. Now, we are locked into short-term response with a quick fix and instant answer e.g. First Car Policy.
Also, people are thinking separately while living in the same society and country. There are many cages that we are confined such as nationalism, ethnic, religious or unknowingly invisible conceptual prison. We would not go out if we do not share a real concern for the common future. Every institution, every country must reinvent themselves. Looking back about teaching Sociology and thinking about getting the student to get practical knowledge should be taken into account. Driven under UNESCO, MOST has a limitation in the National Government framing. In Thailand situation, MOST works under ministry of Education comparing to Korea that has separated UNESCO off Secretariat Office so their position is equivalent to minister and go beyond Education Ministry, Culture and Science Ministry. They cut across 3 ministries and go international.
Therefore, we should think about challenges in the faculty and the future of social science, sociology and anthropology. When the world is moving very fast, UNESCO is an important institution because they can put issue across discipline. In addition, they got culture, science, sociology and humanity together.
Last but not least, Dr.Christina closes the session that we have social scientist means it would not be disappeared. Director General proposes the new center, Center for Social Transformation and Inter Culture Dialogue. It will be seen the database containing sensitive pieces of research. In UNESCO, when continuing to this arena, it means you are hovering over the reality of institution. All the participants’ today help a lot of in her conceptualization afford.
Ending with the last speeches of Associate Professor Dr. Chantana, she states that the open access is a good for new horizon of social science knowledge. It changes idea of property because knowledge is important for everyone.
In this workshop session, the entire participant, most is sociologist, has been given a way of how to work in the future with a stressful and challenge situations and thinking about how to engage , implement their sociological knowledge and consider policy research. Also, the situation that Thai UNESCO under Ministry of Education should be considered in how far they can work and support. In short, it is encouraging all sociological participants to upgrade their role in the future. All in all, the workshop session and their opinion interactions among participants have lightened up themselves by studying the one of interested case study; the MOST program.