Scholars from Indonesia and the United States have recently joined hands to establish a fund to pay for academic research in the country as part of a campaign to produce more world-class scholars.
The initiative, called the Indonesian Scholarship and Research Support Foundation (ISRSF), is looking for 20 scholars from the country, in particular women, to join a training program to become world-class academic researchers.
The ISRSF is currently supporting three Indonesian scholars, all of whom are men, to pursue their studies at Chicago’s Northwestern University and has called for other scholars in the country to enroll in the program.
Registration for this program wraps up in late January every year.
The foundation will select four Indonesian scholars every year to receive PhD-level training in the social science and public policy fields.
It is expected that as a result of the program, graduates could join the increasing number of Indonesian academics devoted to teaching as well as ground-breaking research and publication.
This year, the ISRSF is expected to announce the four selected candidates in April. Candidates will depart for the US in June.
Chairman of the ISRSF’s board of trustees, Jeffrey Winters said recently that selecting 20 Indonesian scholars might sound like a simple task, but it could be a challenging process given the high standard and commitment expected from each prospective scholar.
“This program will bear a long term impact. Thus, we are searching for people with endurance and long-term vision,” Winters told The Jakarta Post in a recent interview.
“We aim to invest in talented and committed Indonesians who are passionate to read and write even when access to books is difficult. We plan to prepare such dedicated scholars to be world-class scholars because our Indonesian colleagues need such global empowerment ,” he added.
ISRSF executive director Benny Subianto said a number of private companies had contributed support to the program.
Benny, however, guaranteed that none of the private firms would have a say in the selection process.
“None of the donors will be able to influence the selection of the candidates because the process is independent,” Benny said.
Apart from Northwestern University, the ISRSF is also cooperating with other world-class universities, including Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, Cambridge University and the Australian National University in carrying out the program.
The program expects upon their return to the country, the 20 scholars will join the first batch of instructors for what the ISRSF foresees as the country’s first school of public policy and social sciences.
Indonesia currently has around 38,000 researchers; 1,300 among whom are from the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI).
Another 7,997 researchers are on the payrolls of research and development department of ministries and other non-ministerial institutions; while the remainder are in research centers of universities and other organizations.