International Conference at Ton Duc Thang University October 4-5, 2019

Innovations in the Social Sciences and Humanities

Innovations are the key. In method and analysis, in the ways in which scholarship engages with society and organisations today, there can be no doubting the relevance of the social science and humanities to all our pressing questions. The Innovations to be discussed at the conference challenge our thinking. The topics are wide-ranging and varied, the approaches distinctly alive; some of the papers demonstrate a vivid combination of theoretical and  practical research, some are insistently in a humanities'-oriented style, others more forthright and strictly social science, and still others experiment with the form and tone of the social sciences. Perhaps bringing new methods to Vietnam, the creativity of the social sciences and relevance of the humanities for contemporary understanding is brought out by the diversity of themes and perspectives. Of course the traditional scholarship of the social sciences is represented, but in writing that has an urgency and verve that will excite discussion.

The features include a keynote lecture by Professor Stephen Muecke, a hugely important voice in cultural studies and theorist of notions of cultural landscape and ways of reading cultural relations between settler and Aboriginal Australia. His walking method will inspire reflection.

A keynote lecture by Professor Joyce Liu on new methods of inter-Asian joint and multi-site research inaugurates a perspective on cultural research that promises new opportunities for collaboration and debate across borders, and with an engagement that should never be sacrificed in the social science and humanities. There are many urgent and relevant issues upon which scholars must comment as the leading presenters of, explorers of, and advocates for ideas

The conference as a whole addresses debates about why innovation and new methods in the social sciences and humanities in Vietnam are needed. This is to respond to clear demands within Vietnam for such methods and enthusiasms (perspectives of a number of Government and non-Government agencies have supported this with relevant statements, such as the government Global Challenges position papers in 2018, and the work of independent research units like Social Life).

Professor Ursula Rao will explore new thinking on the challenges of development in anthropology. Professor Elaine Carey on women and research, in the archive, on drugs. There are no short cuts and no easy solutions – we are challenged to think hard with the leading international scholars of our times.

The conference brings articles/panels on 43 topics by cutting edge thinkers and on themes that are urgent and pressing – for example, there is a session on the new area of sociobiology by Jon Solomon and Samiksha Bahn, or there is the panel on education provision and socialization with discussion of Vietnam and Australia on higher education successes and problems. There is an engaging panel on participatory methods as a research tool eminently suited for new ways of doing research in the social sciences and humanities. Experts and serious scholars are involved in every panel of the conference, though the discussions will spill out into conversations and publications that will continue to have an impact on scholarship in Vietnam and the region. The effect of the conference is to make TDTU one of the hubs in Vietnam for discussion of new research in these areas.

The conference is open-ended and will continue long afterwards, with consequences that will shape ongoing research. As such, the papers presented are  not only about new results, so much about new ways of going about getting those results and discussing those results – fostering a culture of research in the Universities that are open to the experience of social change, the challenges of the times and globally, shifting the locus of advanced research towards the region again, so that perhaps we will begin to arrest the so-called brain-drain where so much budding talent leaves the country for several, sometimes many, years . The conference will be part of a much-needed boost to refresh the social sciences and humanities.

The key point to make is: that with a number of regional delegates – India, Indonesia, Taiwan, the Philippines – and a number of wider international guests – from the USA, Europe and Australia – this conference can be a crucial establishing part of the project of making Vietnam, and TDTU, a key hub in the region for discussions about innovative research in the social sciences and humanities – highly appropriate then that this conference will be held at TDTU – a young university, able to do things in a creative and exciting new way.

 For the agenda, see here