Thoughts for 2017

Thoughts for 2017

I came to work with Swinburne Sarawak in May 2009. Thus, in 2017, I completed 8 years of living in Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia. This has been a period of rich exposure to a society and an institutional setting, both of which were quite new to me. I will certainly welcome a chance to process this experience and determine its meaning for me, as soon as I can find the time and the calmness needed. Besides, I turned 50 recently. Now I am conscious of the fact that I should be focusing on the "Results" and "Conclusion" chapters of my life! Perhaps time has come for me to take a break from the daily grind of full-time university work and become a slow professor. Some of my initiatives and relationships of the recent years will possibly continue. I am also open-minded about exploring the unexplored dimensions of my life and work . . .

ORCID | Journal of Research Practice | Research World

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Encounter With My Faded Past

Concrete road through paddy fields, Satyabadi, PuriIn November 2017, I spent a few days in our ancestral village, Dasbidyadharpur (Satyabadi, Puri, Odisha), where we still own some land. It must be a few decades since I spent more than a day at a time there. It is a deeply rural place, both in terms of infrastructure and cultural setting. Most of the villagers recognised me as the grandson of so-and-so and the son of so-and-so. It was an encounter with my faded past. People there uphold a form of life that is rooted in centuries of tradition, which seemed to have been undermined variously by the new developments in post-independence India. In the few days I lived there, everyone was eager to share with me their personal stories of triumph and tragedy. These stories gave me a feel for the complications of being a paddy farmer in India today. But the village air was clean and the nights were starry. Around the village, vast paddy fields laden with paddy kernels rolled out far into the horizon. The experience led me to imagine some kind of a retreat there, where people from different contexts could come to engage in activities and conversations with the villagers, to enhance mutual understanding and envision new futures.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Dear Academic Colleagues

Academics, you stand at interesting spots,
You are but nodes in the internet of thoughts;
Anchored in ideas, ancient and new,
Downloaded free and easy to view.

From credulous, curious, oblivious students,
To kind, critical, and resentful friends;
Classrooms, committees, with relations grown,
Certainly there, you’re not on your own.

Statistical geniuses and language editors,
Blessed are they as confirmed co-authors;
In predatory journals where fees are cheap,
You will be known by the company you keep.

For CIs, PIs, and RAs on contract,
Unwilling participants, willing to retract;
Funders, regulators, and media galore;
Get ready with stories that impress and stir.

University leaders, directors, and deans,
Managers and auditors, counting their beans,
Unit panel members, silent as stone,
Seek their thoughts, by making yours known.

So it is with academics, present and past,
Nodes of thought, whose impact may last,
In proportion to their will, to listen and tell,
Adventures of mind that succeed or fail.


Revised a few times between July and December 2017. This poem is based on my university experience in Sarawak, Malaysia. Of course I have taken the poetic license to highlight aspects of academic life selectively. The main purpose is to make the readers laugh, think, and explore!

Thursday, January 19, 2017

What About Our Researchers?

"Like any other skills, research skills have to be nurtured and developed," says Prof. Dash, who established research education programs here at Swinburne.

What is research education? It introduces students to a range of skills and concepts essential to conducting their own research and evaluating the research of others. Such skills include literature review skills, project management skills, research presentation skills, and responding constructively to feedback.
Swinburne's research education program is designed to develop researchers' discipline specific skills as well as their capacity for collaboration and communication.
Dialogue among research institutions has been growing on research policies and best practices. In 2005, Prof. Dash co-founded the Journal of Research Practice, published by the Athabasca University Press, Canada, which introduces new knowledge about research practices.

"We wanted to start a conversation about research education with other universities in the region and that's how the idea of a conference came about."

The Borneo Research Education Conference (BREC) is now in its fourth year and has become a collaborative initiative of the research universities in Sarawak and Sabah. The fifth edition, BREC 2017, is planned to be held at Curtin University in Miri, Sarawak.

"Apart from giving researchers an extended support network, the conference also brings new research perspectives to light, which is crucial as it keeps the research community better prepared for the future."

Discover [Swinburne Sarawak research bulletin], November 2016, pp. 6-7.

Friday, December 9, 2016

BMC 2016 Conference

1st Business and Management Conference (BMC 2016)
Managing Uncertainties
Kajang, Selangor, Malaysia (8-9 Dec 2016)

Title of My Talk. Design Thinking: Managing Uncertainties Through Design (8 Dec 2016)

Abstract. In addition to planning and problem solving, designing can also be a general approach to coping with uncertainty and complexity. Alternative implementations can include imagining and designing ideal-seeking systems (e.g., new types of telephone system), readjusting constraints to enhance actorship (e.g., urban shared space), and bringing forth smart collectives to translate individual capacities into a collective resource (e.g., a web-based social resource such as Wikipedia). Likewise, a design thinking perspective can also be applied to the task of developing educators and researchers, which is an aim of the newly formed scholarly society (MABMS) that initiated the BMC conference series.

Here is a recent news item on a similar theme:
"Design thinking methods to enhance innovation, creativity,"
The Borneo Post | 12 Dec 2016

Monday, August 22, 2016

BREC 2016 Conference

4th Borneo Research Education Conference (BREC 2016)
Developing as a researcher by building research skills
Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia (17-18 Aug 2016)

"Borneo higher learning institutions come together to strengthen research culture,"

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Dear Students

I'm not your favourite friend,
Nor am I your foe;
I just question all your limits,
Because, I am your teacher. [1]

It's not for me to please you,
Nor cause you pain;
Only spur you to excel yourself,
Because, I am your teacher.

Your fame doesn't impress me,
Failings despair me not;
I just seek your steady unfolding,
Because, I am your teacher.

Rise and fall are Nature's strokes,
Upon the canvas of life;
If you need to widen the canvas,
Find me by your side.

Of no use are maps and compass,
Facing the unknown sea;
An explorer's nerve in you I seek,
The heart of a teacher in me. [2]


[1] Inspired by the Native American wisdom, "I have no friends; I have no enemies; I have only teachers," cited by Dharm P. S. Bhawuk in his 2010 article, "Humiliation and Human Rights in Diverse Societies: Forgiveness and Other Solutions from Cross-Cultural Research," published in Psychological Studies, 55(1), pp. 35-45.

Interestingly, Rob Jenkins at Georgia State University Perimeter College also expressed a similar idea in an article written around the same time as this poem. In his words, "I’m not your BFF" and "I’m not your adversary." His article is published in the Vitae blog, a service of The Chronicle of Higher Education, on August 19, 2016Defining the Relationship.

[2] Inspired by the title of a talk, "The Heart of a Teacher," delivered by Snigdha Pattnaik at Xavier University, Bhubaneswar, India on 14 June 2016.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Government Funding for Postgraduate Studies

Policy of provisionism:

Borneo Post Online | 25 Feb 2016
The Star Online | 25 Feb 2016

Notes. I first learnt about the concept of provisionism from Boud and Lee (2005). I referred to it in my article reviewing my research education initiatives in India and Malaysia (Dash, 2015).

1. Boud, D., & Lee, A. (2005). ‘Peer learning’ as pedagogic discourse for research education. Studies in Higher Education, 30(5), 501-516.
2. Dash, D. P. (2015). Enacting a developmental niche for researchers: Lessons from research education initiatives in India and Malaysia. International Journal for Researcher Development, 6(2), 144-164.