PRESENTATION: Making Research Matter: From Theory to Praxis


How can research make an impact on real-world problems in Southeast Asia? This was the theme of an invited keynote presentation by Dr. Carl Middleton at the Urban Climate Resilience in Southeast Asia Partnership (UCRSEA) Annual Workshop on 7th May 2018 in Yangon, Myanmar.  

Dr. Carl Middleton presenting his research

Dr. Carl Middleton presenting his research

In a presentation titled “Making Research Matter: From Theory to Praxis,” Dr Middleton argued that there is much to be learned from transdisciplinary research methods. Specifically, he suggested that:

  • Academic knowledge alone is not enough to achieve sustainable development. Multiple actors and multiple forms of knowledge (local, practical, political…) must be involved.
  • The earlier in the research process we work together, the better; process is everything to build trust, legitimacy, networks, and a shared understanding of the problem, the research itself, and ultimately the solutions
  • Engaging in real world problems for a researcher means maintaining academic research principles (furthering knowledge and theory) whilst simultaneously working with others. All partners should maintain a critical engagement with each other.

The full presentation can be downloaded here.

The overall focus of the workshop was to strengthen research capacity in Southeast Asia to address urban resilience to climate change and people-centered vulnerability. Visit UCRSEA’s website for further details on their research program. 

Contact at CSDS: Dr. Carl Middleton

Participants of the Annual Workshop

Participants of the Annual Workshop

EVENT: KNOTS Train-the-Trainer (TTT) Workshop

From 1-4 May 2018, academia and researchers involved in the KNOTS program gathered at the Political Science Department at Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand for a special Train-the-Trainer (TTT) workshop aimed at helping build and teach a transdisciplinary curriculum. After a successful summer school held in northern Vietnam in 2017, this workshop continued the work of the EU Erasmus+ sponsored initiative, that serves as a response to the increasingly evolving topics of  social inequality, climate change and migration, with the aim to bridge the higher education sector and non-academic actors. From Germany to Vietnam, this international team has been meeting across the globe in a highly collaborative and international effort to build and grown the transdisciplinary program known as KNOTS, with the hopes that as this method and mindset continues to spread, it will allow for greater engagement of not only multiple stakeholders, but greater connection to local communities, who have often in the past been left out of the research taking place in their own spaces.

Using the Political Science faculty's smart classroom, which came enabled with interactive and connectable LED screens, group-work friendly mobile tables/chairs, whiteboard desks and smart whiteboards, the four days of sessions were designed to not just upskill the program's academics to go out and teach transdisciplinary research methods, but to be interactive and iterative in a way that will continue to shape the content so it is custom and bespoke for the participant's particular situation, country or learning cohort. As with most training programs, the initial sessions covered the history and background of transdisciplinary methods, how to rethink our current scientific/research paradigms and then jumped into how to actually begin creating and teaching such a program. 

As the TTT progressed throughout the week, close attention was paid to getting feedback from trainees, as this project is still in its infancy and like all good research projects and collaborative efforts, thrives on constructive criticism and alterations to the original plan. With the foundation of transdisciplinary methods laid out by Dr. Carl Middleton (Chulalongkorn Univ.) and Dr. Petra Dannecker (Univ. of Vienna), a deeper dive into social inequality, migration and environmental issues was presented, and how they can/should be looked at through a transdisciplinary lens. Like the foundational sessions, importance on trainee input and feedback was given in order to best frame the conversations for the situations currently being experienced here in Southeast Asia.

KNOTS participants attending the train the trainer event

KNOTS participants attending the train the trainer event

WORKSHOP: "Utilizing Storytelling and Innovative Social Media Strategies to Help Researchers Reach the Public"

"Utilizing Storytelling and Innovative Social Media Strategies to Help Researchers Reach the Public"

Comms training

Ahead of the first annual Social and Sustainability Science in ASEAN: "Agri-Food Systems, Rural Sustainability and Socioeconomic Transformations in South-east Asia," the Center for Social Development Studies (CSDS) and the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) held a special training workshop for interested participants of the conference to build their communications capacity, particularly using social media platforms and unique storytelling to reach wider audiences both online and in-person. The workshop convened on the afternoon of Monday, 22 January, 2018 and was attended by participants from around the region and beyond. Bobby Irven of CSDS and Anneli Sundin of SEI created and conducted the two hour session.*

The workshop began by going over the basics and setup for utilizing the social media platforms of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to present research in the forms of multimedia and engaging copy to reach audiences beyond the traditional academic spheres. Actioning the recommendations and implications of scientific research was the theme of this workshop, so practical applications as they relate to social media were the focal point of this section.. The discussion then moved onto the topic of storytelling and how mastering this age-old communications strategy can actually be very effective for researchers to better engage audiences and create buildup and excitement around their various projects. Attendees were challenged to begin putting these techniques immediately into practice, with ample opportunities to begin blogging and tweeting about the conference and beyond.


*Full presentation and materials from training will be available to public in one weeks time.

For more information on the content, please visit the original announcement page

EVENT: "KNOTS Project Launch"

09:00 - 12:00

Alumni Association Conference Room, 12th floor, Building 3,

Faculty of Political Science, Chulalongkorn University

Organized by MAIDS Program and CSDS


The KNOTS project will focus on contemporary development challenges in Southeast Asia, where transdisciplinary research methods could offer novel insights and innovative solutions. The particular focus is on: environmental degradation; migration; and social inequality.

The KNOTS project will prepare curriculum and teaching/ learning materials on transdisciplinary methods to be integrated into each universities’ teaching programs. Three summer schools and fieldtrips will be organized in Vietnam and Thailand over the duration of the project to pilot and refine these materials. There will also be a Stakeholders Workshop in June 2017 and a final conference in 2019, to be hosted at Chulalongkorn University.

The three-year project was initiated in October 2016, and is a collaboration between seven universities in Europe, Thailand and Vietnam: the University of Vienna, Austria, which is also the project coordinator; Charles University, Czechia; University of Bonn, Germany; Chulalongkorn University and Chiang Mai University, Thailand; and Ho Chi Minh City Open University, Southern Institute of Social Sciences, and Vietnam Academy of Social Sciences, Vietnam.

The project is funded by the European Commission’s ERASMUS+ programme. At Chulalongkorn University, the MA in International Development Studies program is the project partner, alongside a network of academics and practitioners interested in teaching and practicing transdisciplinary research approaches.

Event objectives

This event will launch the KNOTS project at Chulalongkorn University. The objectives of the event are:

  • To formally launch the KNOTS project at Chulalongkorn University
  • To introduce the Chulalongkorn University team to the KNOTS project partners, and share about each team member’s institute/ department programs  

INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE: Insights on Recovering Co-existing Wetlands and Farming Systems

The importance of recognizing the value of agro-ecological systems in wetlands in Southeast Asia was the main message delivered at the SUMERNET research partners meeting in Phnom Penh, Cambodia on 29 March 2017. Dr Outhai Soukkhy, Dr. Nguyen Van Kien and Dr. Carl Middleton shared the main scientific findings and policy messages of the RECOVER project. They also emphasized the benefits of undertaking "co-production of knowledge" research methods, so as to involve all actors sharing a policy or on-the-ground challenge.

  • A poster summarizing the RECOVER project can be downloaded here.

  • The presentation summarizing the main project findings can be downloaded here.

WORKSHOP: The Path to K_Space: Co-Creating Space Science Curriculum in Nepal

Sakar and Hermes goofing around the Karkhana classroom at K_Space

Sakar and Hermes goofing around the Karkhana classroom at K_Space

About 2 years ago I began a conversation with Sakar Pudasaini about the possibility of Karkhana leading a workshop on open science in Kathmandu, Nepal. Karkhana is an innovative and exciting social enterprise based in Kathmandu that has been working for over 4 years now to bring fun, creative, experiential, and impactful Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math (STEAM) education to all children in the Kathmandu Valley.

I had the great pleasure of meeting the team at Karkhana in early 2014 when I was working in Nepal as a Princeton in Asia Fellow, and the continued privilege of meeting new additions to the talent pool as it grew. Karkhana's focused vision and mission expanded the possibilities for the local communities' children, moving towards more equitable and prosperous futures in our globalized lives.

The first workshop of the Open Source Hardware and Citizen Science Project in Yogyakarta, Indonesia

The first workshop of the Open Source Hardware and Citizen Science Project in Yogyakarta, Indonesia

The focus of the larger project that I was crafting at the time (late 2014) was around the topics of open science and open source hardware - specifically looking at laboratory equipment, the designs of which could be shared openly across platforms and communities. The first workshop we ran within this larger project took place in September 2015, in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, in partnership with the House of Natural Fiber Foundation - a new media arts collective that had been working in the sciences for over 8 years now. Two members of Karkhana attended, and together we learned a lot about the design and facilitation of international grassroots workshops.

The original discussion that I had with Sakar in the second half of 2015 morphed along with this greater understanding of the needs of communities, and understanding of the diverse individuals we planned to bring together in these workshops. I realized after the Indonesia workshop that I still retained a latent bias towards my background in physiology, and my own experience with science education and training. These workshops, along with my work in inclusive and co-created design at DSIL Global, have shifted my own perspective on the nature of open science, and the way that we (as a global community) can create a new definition of science that is more inclusive, contextual, and heard.

Ayisha Rahman (Malaysia) and Hermes Huang (USA) lead an activity in the Karkhana classroom in Kathmandu, Nepal during K_Space. Photo credit: Karkhana

Ayisha Rahman (Malaysia) and Hermes Huang (USA) lead an activity in the Karkhana classroom in Kathmandu, Nepal during K_Space. Photo credit: Karkhana

When Sakar told me that he wanted to focus the workshop in Kathmandu on space science, I said: "Let's do it." As an applied science, there are few things more expansive than allowing a generation of students across the world to imagine a future where we can use technology, arts, engineering, history and science in order to engage the earth, the sky, and beyond.

So, here we are today, October 2016 in Kathmandu, with an amazing group of men and women from across Asia working towards creating curriculum, experiences, and tools for students and individuals across Asia to imagine a future in space. 

This workshop would not be possible without the generous support of the Open and Collaborative Science in Development Network, which is funded by IDRC Canada and UK DFiD. This project is undertaken in collaboration by DSIL Global, HONF, and CSDS.