Junior Faculty Training (JFT) Program

Supported by the Rockefeller Foundation, with additional support from the Scaler Foundation

Background

Cambodia’s higher education landscape is undergoing a ‘silent revolution’. The country is currently witnessing a rapid increase in the number of new educational institutions, most of them private universities. The number of Bachelor’s, Master’s and PhD degrees offered in fields ranging from English and Khmer Studies to Business and Tourism Management to Buddhism Studies and Sociology reflects the huge demand among young Cambodians to expand their knowledge and improve their skills after secondary school.

Against this background of more curricular and programmatic offerings, universities, whether private or state-supported, need to develop their capacities in research and graduate-level training in the humanities and social sciences. Currently, few universities are equipped to provide students with international-level graduate education. Cooperation between local institutions, and between Cambodian and international universities, needs to be further enhanced.

Program Information

The Junior Faculty Training (JFT) Program targets young Cambodian junior faculty committed to teaching and graduate students wishing to pursue advanced training in preparation for careers in university teaching. The sequence of seminar/field-work/conference runs every six months around pre-selected topics. Seminars and training workshops are held at CKS’s Phnom Penh facility, while conferences are held at partner universities and the CKS Conference Hall in Siem Reap. Interdisciplinary, cross-cultural and regional approaches are emphasized, and participants are encouraged to work collegially and collaboratively, irrespective of their institution of affiliation. English and Khmer are the main working languages.

Up to 15 Cambodian participants are accepted into the program each semester after completing the application process.

JFT follows Building Institutional Capacity in Cambodian Higher Education (BIC-HE), CKS’s previous Rockefeller Foundation-funded project, in both structure and philosophy. However, JFT focuses its content on the needs discussed by four partner universities.

The Visiting Scholar and the six topics for the BIC-HE sessions were:

* Prof. Duncan McCargo (University of Leeds), Contemporary Southeast Asia (February 2005 to July 2005)
* Asst Prof. Penny Edwards (University of California, Berkeley), Cultures and Identities of Mainland Southeast Asia (August 2005 to January 2006)
* Prof. John Marston (El Colegio de México), Religious Practices in Mainland Southeast Asia (February 2006 to July 2006)
* Dr. Kate Frieson, Rural and Urban Studies: Local History in a Regional perspective (August 2006 to January 2007)
* Prof. Peter Hammer (Wayne State University), Cambodia at the Margins: Minority Groups and Borders (February 2007 to July 2007)
* Dr. Deth Thach, Bridging Cultures: Language, Linguistics, Literature and Translation (August 2007 to January 2008)

The four topics for the JFT sessions were:

* Archaeology (March 2008 to August 2008)
* Modern Southeast Asian History (September 2008 to February 2009)
* Economic Development (March 2009 to August 2009)
* Political Science (September 2009 to February 2010).

Seminars and Workshops

The first three months of each semester consists of academic seminars and workshops on research methodology held twice a week. The seminars employ a participatory format to encourage teamwork between participants from different universities. Seminars alternate between presentation of papers, Q & A sessions and open discussion led by the Visiting Scholar. Guest lecturers and readings are selected by the Visiting Scholar to support the session’s topic.

Study Tours and Field Research Projects

Through this component, participants apply the theoretical and methodological tools of analysis acquired during the seminars and workshops on a research project of their own choosing. Following the weekly lecture and seminar component, study tours to neighboring countries such as Vietnam, Thailand and Burma, are organized with in country academic institutions. Cambodian participants are paired with foreign students, fostering a regional network between these junior faculty.

As part of their application, participants are required to submit a research proposal, and throughout the semester, with support from the Program Director and Visiting Scholar, revise their research proposal. At the conclusion of the study tour, participants begin conducting their field research on their own both in Cambodia and in a neighboring country.

Conferences

JFT supports two categories of conferences: a) conferences held at Cambodian partner universities; b) an annual international conference held at the CKS Conference Hall in Wat Damnak, Siem Reap.

a) Conferences/workshops at Universities

At least one conference or workshop per session is held in Phnom Penh at a partner university. These university-based conferences are open to faculty, students and the general public, and are typically less structured than our international conferences. Formal papers are not always required, and interaction and discussion are encouraged.

b) International Conferences
Arising from themes covered in the semester sessions, at least one international conference is held yearly, allowing early career Cambodian academics to present their research alongside international scholars with related interests. Conferences have been held at our Siem Reap Conference Hall and in Phnom Penh, covering topics such as: Local Practice and Trans-national Dynamics in Mainland Southeast Asian Religions: Historical and Contemporary Patterns (2007); Living Capital: Sustaining Diversity in Asian Cities (2007); and Rethinking Mainland Southeast Asia: Comparing Social and Cultural Challenges (2006).

International Exchanges / Training Abroad

In addition to the in-country activities described above, another aim of JFT is to expose participants to international scholars, conferences and opportunities for further study abroad. The objective of these exchanges is to strengthen the international outlook of Cambodian scholars, to introduce them to international institutions of higher education, their standards and working environment. Beyond the anticipated positive impact upon individuals, it is hoped that the exchanges sponsored by the project will contribute to build closer ties between international and Cambodian institutions.

Translation and Publication

With concurrent funding from the Rockefeller Foundation, the Open Society Institute and a generous private donor, CKS has developed a Translation Capacity Building program to train and mentor a core team of translators and pilot a circular feedback process, in conjunction with our Rockefeller Foundation funded program. Selections of reading material used in the semester sessions are translated and published. Following each six month session, three participants are selected to be trained as translators involving the circular feedback and review process. A key strength of this program is that the translators are familiar with the material to be translated, which cuts down on confusion with the translated texts, allowing the translators to concentrate on the process of translating. CKS is also familiar with the participants and their level of understanding of the material. Through this initiative, CKS hopes to disseminate research results and teaching materials developed during the session and train up to six translators per year.