Indonesia aims to increase its scientific research capacity through the establishment an international research center that fosters cooperation between local and foreign universities.
The Indonesian Institute of Science (LIPI) launched Wednesday the International Center for Interdisciplinary and Advanced Research (ICIAR), as part of an initiative to promote preservation of the environment and to advance food security.
The center was established through cooperation between the institute and the the State Research and Technology Ministry, as well as the National Education Ministry.
The center is going to work with the United Nations Universities in Japan and New York, the Wageningen University in the Netherlands, the Kyoto University in Japan and the Swiss German University in Serpong, Banten.
Swiss German University is the first international university offering a double degree from both Indonesia and Europe for local students.
State Minister for Research and Technology Suharna Surapranata said in his speech that the center would propel scientific research in the country.
The center's chairman, Jan Sopaheluwakan, said he expected the center to become a melting pot of advanced studies from various scientific fields and to influence decision makers in the country through its research results.
Jan, who is also LIPI's deputy chairman for scientific studies, said the center would focus on developing research on biogeodynamics, sustainable environmental practices, climate change and disaster mitigation, coastal community resilience and conflict and crisis management, as well as food, health, biomedical and intercultural studies.
He said this would be made possible through networking with foreign partner universities.
"United Nations University, for example, has extensive networks in UN member countries," he said during the center's launching ceremony.
"This will help Indonesia catch up with other nations' achievements, which address environmental and human security problems."
Associate Director of the Institute for Environment and Human Security at the United Nations University, Fabrice Renaud, said the new center would extend the role of his institute in promoting solutions related to the environmental dimension of human security.
"We are putting the individual, social groups and their livelihoods at the center of debate, analysis and policy," he said.
"Our university has acted as a bridge between the UN and the academic world since 1973."
Senior Researcher at Wageningen University, A. Schrevel, said his university would work together with the center on low-land management projects in Sumatra and Kalimantan for two to three years.
"Significant peatland losses on the islands have increasingly contributed to the release of emissions," he said.
Jan said this center would change the old paradigm of local universities.
"Most local universities have not yet prioritized research programs. Lecturers help their students research certain topics only to help them fulfill their academic requirements," he said.
He called such universities as "teaching universities", which had yet to improve their research functions due to limited facilities. (nia)