Interdisciplinary research: towards thriving communities in South Sulawesi

AIC Associate Fellows Anis Wulandari and Dr Muhammad Farid Dimjati Lusno give an overview of the first days of their PAIR research journey which took them to South Sulawesi to meet with stakeholders, develop as an interdisciplinary team, and dive into research proposal drafting alongside their Senior Fellows.

Since the 11 Australia-Indonesia Centre Senior Fellows were appointed, the Partnership for Australia-Indonesia Research (PAIR) has grown. The team has been joined by 15 AIC Associate Fellows and together they will explore local issues and design research proposals.

The Associate Fellows spent five days in February being inducted into PAIR and participating in the Visioning 1 workshop. They have a range of areas of expertise and come from universities across Indonesia and Australia. Their journey of interdisciplinary study started with an introduction to South Sulawesi through site visits in the field.

Monday 2 February

The Induction began with a welcome and introduction to PAIR by AIC Chief Operating Officer Helen Fletcher-Kennedy. Program manager Dr Leonardo Pegoraro then explained the structure of PAIR and led a discussion.

The team got to know each other’s backgrounds and their research sub-teams through informative and insightful introductions. Dr Hasnawati Saleh, PAIR Research Coordinator gave an overview of South Sulawesi and Senior Fellow Dr Sudirman Nasir from Universitas Hasanuddin discussed the stakeholders involved in the study. Senior Fellow Dr Sebastian Thomas from The University of Melbourne delivered a presentation about research impact and the day ended with a presentation by Senior Fellow Professor Anu Rammohan from The University of Western Australia on bringing together expertise in interdisciplinary learning.

PAIR: Associate Fellows Induction Program and Visioning 1 Workshop

Tuesday 3 February

The second day of the Associate Fellows’ Induction was for site visits around Makassar and Barru regency, firstly to the ports operator Pelindo IV. The general manager of Makassar New Port, Mr Edi Nursewan, gave an overview of the present and future of Makassar New Port and highlighted the importance of port performance. From the office rooftop the group viewed the coastal area and the passenger ferries and cargo ships at Paotere port. They also met local crew and workers, surveyed port development progress, and learnt about the process of loading and unloading.

The journey continued to the centre point of the new Makassar-Parepare train line, in Barru, to meet with the project team. Researchers learnt about the process of building the railway line and asked about the feasibility study, the master plan and the planned impact of the railway line. Other topics included land acquisition, tourism, commodities, and challenges that might arise at the transportation switchover.

The next stop was a visit to a seaweed farming collective in Pitu Sunggu, Pitue village, where the group received a warm welcome in a traditional Bugis house and were served various local foods: boiled corn, fried bread, fruit dipped in peanut sauce, apang colo (a white pancake with melted brown sugar), sarabba and much more. A discussion followed with a representative from Fisheries and Marine Services and local seaweed farmers. Both see potential for better optimising the seaweed industry but there are some challenges related to the traditional process of drying seaweed and to storage, price stability and the environment.

After a long journey, the researchers returned to Makassar, and met the Senior Fellows for the first time at dinner.

The authors with other Associate Fellows, PAIR program staff and community stakeholders at a seaweed farming community in Desa Pitue, South Sulawesi. Anis Wulandari is far left in the front row (in black hijab) and Dr Muhammad is far left (in batik). (Image: AIC)

Wednesday 4 February

On Wednesday the Senior Fellows and Associate Fellows participated in the PAIR Policy Dialogue. You can read Associate Fellow Dr Simon Bowly’s recap of the event here.

In the evening, the team had dinner at the house of Mr Richard Mathews, Australian Consul General in eastern Indonesia. Mathews was interviewed about PAIR last year.

Thursday 5 February

After all the field visits and the Policy Dialogue, it was time for the Associate Fellows to take their first steps towards making an impact. The process facilitated by Dr Martijn Van Der Kamp, the team capability co-ordinator for PAIR, encouraged the Associate Fellows to come up with ideas about the impact that the team wants to achieve. Afterwards, each sub-team, or domain, worked separately on their topic: transport, logistics and supply chain; commodities; young people and development; and young people’s health and wellbeing. Each domain put together a draft proposal for their pilot project, and presented the proposal to get feedback from other domains.

Friday 6 February

On the final day, all the domains came together to make sure that everyone was on the same page after the Visioning 1 workshop. The proposal presentations continued from the day before, then the researchers went back to their domains to further develop their proposals and plan the next steps in the PAIR program. Finally, Visioning 1 wrapped up with a team building activity between the researchers.

The pilot projects are about to get started. Stay tuned.