13 Jun 2019
Posted13 Jun 2019
Interest in joining the Summer School on Mekong Land Relations increased almost three-fold this year. We wish all the participants an informative and motivating week-long session from 14th-19th July 2019 in Chiang Mai, Thailand. To think that only 2 years ago, 130 people were applying for the 24 places on offer, and now more than 320 have applied. We at LEI are very proud of our enthusiastic and dedicated partners at RCSD, the University of Chiang Mai’s Regional Centre for Social Science and Sustainable Development, for persisting and encouraging young academics to engage in the difficult discussion space of land issues in the Mekong, in particular land and forest tenure security.
Empowering colleagues in the Mekong region to support tenure security, particularly smallholder farmers, is being realised through the ongoing partnership between the Mekong Region Land Governance (MRLG) Project and RCSD. In 2015, RCSD became an active partner to the MRLG project, and since then, joint activities and initiatives by RCSD have raised awareness on the importance of land tenure. A number of platforms are offered by RCSD for regional academic and broader thematic discussions, including an online repository of land-related publications, regular news announcements, hosting of conferences, a sponsored international Masters degree with land specialisation, and the re-vitalised ‘Summer School’ for research in land governance.
The land-focused, week-long Summer School was first offered June 2016 in Thai language, then again in July 2017 in English language to attract a broader regional cohort from the 6 Mekong countries. It was designed specifically to equip early-career academic and advocacy-oriented researchers with key concepts, access to existing research outputs, and knowledge of current land issues across the Mekong. It aims to strengthen individual and networked research that is oriented to more inclusive land governance and secure access to land amongst the region’s rural and urban poor.
The positive response to the 2017 course demonstrated the regional need for such a training. It coincided nicely with other young academic initiatives happening in the region, including the GIZ and RCSD academic sessions held during the MRLG-convened Regional Land Forums in 2016 and 2018. The overwhelming number of applications for the 2019 Summer School, is indicative of the work of MRLG, RCSD and the academic network in broadening the land discussion circle to the regional level.
Beyond the Summer School, MRLG continues to build academic and research capacity in the region by providing supportive funding for students studying under RCSD’s Masters program. Three full-time Masters students, two from Myanmar and one from Vietnam, are currently funded to study local land governance issues, two of whom are expected to graduate in June 2019 with an International Master’s in Social Sciences (Development Studies). In early June, RCSD also selected 4 new students for scholarships to the two-year Masters programme (3 from Myanmar, 1 from Cambodia). A pleasing 17 students applied for the scholarships towards the specialisation in land, which is high by Chiang Mai University standards.
The Mekong Region Land Governance Project is a mandated project by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation to Land Equity International. LEI implement the project in collaboration with Gret. LEI’s Director, John Meadows, is the in-country Team Leader. Follow MRLG on Facebook or www.mrlg.org
For further information on the Summer School follow the Mekong Summer School Facebook page or email the Mekong Land Research Forum via: firstname.lastname@example.org.