Enhancing Research and Training Collaboration

Our LuceSEA program leverages support from existing research projects funded by, among others, by NSF and NASA to enhance engagement with SEA partners through research and training activities.

Our LuceSEA program leverages support from existing research projects funded by, among others, by NSF and NASA to enhance engagement with SEA partners through research and training activities. Four subprojects highlight the diversity of sectors undergoing socio-environmental transformations (e.g., forest, fisheries, urban, and agriculture) in six countries: Thailand, Lao PDR, Cambodia, Myanmar, Vietnam, and Indonesia. Each subproject will produce multilingual, online instructional material throughout the five-year LuceSEA Transitions program. We will make these materials available through the UHM Center for SEA Studies website. The four sub-projects are as follows:

  1. Transboundary Air Pollution and Socio-Ecological Impacts of China’s Belt-and-Road Initiative (BRI) in the Mekong Sub-Region (Mary Mostafanezhad [UHM], Michael Kantar [UHM] Olivier Evrard [French Research Institute for Development – IRD] and Chiang Mai University). This 2018- 2022 NSF-funded project investigates the socio-ecological impacts of China’s BRI on transboundary air pollution in Thailand, Laos, and Myanmar. Undertaken in collaboration with the Regional Center for Social Science and Sustainable Development (RCSD) and the School of Public Policy at Chiang Mai University, the LuceSEA program will support two mixed- methods ethnographic/geographic field schools in Summer 2022 and Summer 2023 to investigate the political ecology of haze in Thailand, Myanmar (with Mandalay University) and Lao PDR (National University of Laos). A two-day writing workshop follows each field school.
  1. From Rural to Urban: Engaging SEA Scholars in Research on Agrarian Transitions (Jefferson Fox [EWC] and Krisna Suryanata [UHM] with Ian Baird [ U Wisconsin] and Stephen Leiz [Colorado State U]; SEA partners include Khon Kaen University, Thailand; Battambang University, Cambodia; Savannakhet University, Laos; and National University of Vietnam, Hanoi). Despite the growing literature on agrarian change in SEA, few scholars have examined how rice production systems are changing in the face of these transformations. Two EWC extant NASA-funded projects (2018-2024) provide opportunities for early-career colleagues in four SEA countries to conduct qualitative research on how the transformation of rice production systems is affecting daily livelihoods. The UHM LuceSEA support will extend that engagement through two educational programs: (1) a field research experience for UHM undergraduate and graduate students in Year 1 of the sub- project (Summer 2021); and (2) a UHM/EWC-based English Language and Scientific Writing Course for four mainland SEA- based research colleagues through a UHM/EWC partnership in Year 2 (Fall 2021).
  2. Building Capacity for Community Supported Fisheries in SEA (Brian Szuster [UHM], Kulapa Songpongpan Kuldilok [Kasetsart University] and the International Oceans Institute, Thailand). SEA farmers have increasingly turned to aquaculture, but their opportunities for income enhancement remain limited because poorly developed marketing infrastructure separates producers from consumers. Community-supported fisheries (CSF) programs, initiated in the US in 2007, can give more income back to aquaculture producers. LuceSEA funding will support a run one-day CSF module following the annual training course in Years 1-4 that the International Oceans Institute’s Thailand Operational Center runs, and which attracts aquaculture specialists from across the region. The sub-project will also generate multilingual CSF materials we will make available online.
  3. Bolstering Planning Research and Education Towards Inclusive Urbanization (Ashok Das [UHM], Hayden Shelby [UHM] and Wiwandari Handayani [Universitas Diponegoro]). Urban planning scholarship in Indonesia relies on conventional western models rather than attending to contemporary urbanization processes in the Global South. Resultant models could exacerbate urban poverty, rather than reduce it. This subproject provides a platform for young Indonesian urban- planning scholars to work with UHM colleagues to develop pedagogical tools to make urban planning more inclusive and appropriate for the kinds of urbanization that characterize their country. Luce funding will support: retreats and conferences for local scholars (and 1-2 foreign invitees) to discuss pressing issues and develop curriculum (Years 1-4); fieldwork to interview urban-planning practitioners and refine planning materials (Year 2); presentation of research results (Year 3); development and translation of appropriate planning theory texts and syllabi into Bahasa Indonesia (Year 5). Other partners include the Institute of Technology Bandung, Gadjah Mada, Universitas Brawijaya, and Sepuluh Nopember Institute of Technology in Indonesia; and Thammasat University and Chulalongkorn University, in Bangkok, Thailand.