From Classroom to Community: Equipping Researchers for Mekong Land Rights

RCSD Summer school 2024

Since 2015, the Mekong Region Land Governance (MRLG) project and Chiang Mai University’s Regional Center for Social Science and Sustainable Development (RCSD) have been working together to address land tenure security in the Mekong region. The RCSD has gathered a significant amount of online resources focused on land rights in the Mekong region, organized conferences, and sponsors a master’s program to cultivate expertise in this crucial area. The annual Summer School on Land Governance is the cornerstone of this partnership, equipping researchers with the knowledge and tools they need to tackle land tenure challenges in the Mekong region.

The most recent Summer School on Land Relations in the Mekong Region took place from June 3rd to 7th, 2024, in Chiang Mai, Thailand. A diverse group of 22 participants from across the Mekong region participated in the program, with 201 applications received for the 22 available spots. Four Master’s students specializing in land within Chiang Mai University’s Development Studies program gained valuable insights alongside their peers.

The Summer School curriculum gives participants a deep dive into the complexities of land governance, through lectures on key concepts like land tenure and access rights. Participants also engage in dynamic group discussions, allowing them to share experiences and develop their research skills collaboratively. This years’s participant took part in a field trip to a Karen community in Northern Thailand, witnessing how communities manage their forests and the crucial role Indigenous women play in protecting their land and traditions.

Building a network of changemakers is not just about acquiring knowledge; it’s about fostering collaboration. Researchers from various countries and backgrounds come together to share their perspectives and learn from experienced researchers at Chiang Mai University and local organizations. By the program’s end, these researchers are not just colleagues but a network of passionate individuals committed to tackling land tenure challenges together.

The Summer School on Land governance exemplifies how collaboration can empower researchers and drive positive change. By equipping participants with knowledge, fostering connections, and nurturing a network of passionate individuals, this program is paving the way for a more actors working on securing an equitable future for land rights in the Mekong region.

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