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YRS: Student Voices
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This year's ProSPER.Net Young Researchers’ School is focused on 'Building a Resilient Society in Asia', and on policies and projects that promote health, well-being, poverty eradication, social entrepreneurship, urban development and disaster management.

Fourteen students will attend the two-week school, hosted this year by Universitas Gadjah Mada (UGM) in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. The students are highly accomplished graduate students and young post-doctoral researchers who come from a wide variety of backgrounds but share a common vision of a more sustainable future for all. 

We've asked a few of the students to share their expectations, reflections and overall feedback from YRS 2012. Below is a short introduction to two of our esteemed students. Check back regularly for updates from their time at the School.



Preeti Aggarwal is a Research Scholar in the Department of Natural Resources, TERI University, New Delhi, India. She has diverse research and industry experience in the field of Environmental Management and Sustainability. Before joining research, she worked as a Consultant for two years in the sphere of GHG Emission Inventorization and Management. She has Master of Science in Water Resources Management from TERI University and Bachelor of Science in Zoology from Delhi University. Her research interests include Urban Mobility and Sustainability, Carbon Accounting, Energy & Environmental Modeling and Behavioral Research.






Roberto Colanzi is a PhD Student at the RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia, studying the political economy of Vietnam. His focus is on how Vietnam is managing its automotive industry alongside carbon minimization and urban development vulnerabilities and pressures in its major cities. He has a background in management consultancy, applied economic analysis, and government policy analysis and lobbying.





Imelda Fajirati is a PhD Student at Gadjah Mada University in Indonesia. She is also a Senior Lecturer at Department of Chemistry, Faculty of Science and Technology, The State Islamic University of Sunan Kalijaga (UIN Sunan Kalijaga) Yogyakarta, where she has been teaching since 2005. Previously, Ms. Fajirati taught at The State Islamic Institute of Sunan Ampel (IAIN Sunan Ampel) Surabaya. Her academic passions are analytical chemistry and mathematics, while her current research is on the technology of waste water treatment. She has authored numerous publications, including a book titled “Islam dan Sains: Dalam Paradigma Integrasi Interkoneksi (Islam and Science: Integrative-Interconnective Paradigm)” published by UIN Suka Press in 2010.





Ali Kharrazi is a second year PhD student at the Graduate School of Frontier Sciences at the University of Tokyo. Ali completed his undergraduate studies at the City University of New York in Economics and Mathematics and earned a Master's degree at the London School of Economics in Information Systems. His research interests include sustainability science, data intensive research, and ecological economics.


Monday, 8 October 2012
Posted by Ali

We've had great field trips so far in the program but the Bumi-Langit organic farm and the Sukunan eco-village have been the most impressive to me especially since I have always read on how technological improvements and lifestyle changes can in theory promote sustainability but never had the chance to see these concepts practiced in real life. At Bumi-Langit we saw a very energetic and passionate social entrepreneur who had built an organic farm using low-cost technologies and simple sustainable practices. Every process in the farm was connected somehow to one another. For example, the farm had a very impressive waste to energy system where human and animal waste were converted to bio-gas and fertilizer. This energy-to-waste system although simple in design was very effective and carried the added benefits of being locally maintained. I was told that they have ambitious plans to integrate other renewable energy systems, such as solar cells and wind turbines, to the current system in the near future. Food security based on local resources, the promotion of sustainable practices through local beliefs and practices, and also self-sufficiency were three areas that were seriously practiced in the farm and promoted among the locals. The best part of the trip at Bumi-Langit however, was the great tasting organic food, especially the rich kefir drink - and I'm sure many of us were inspired by taste alone to be more sustainable in our lives!

At Sukunan I was taken back by the level of detail in the waste management of the village and it seemed the villagers were truly putting the motto reuse, recycle, and reduce to practice. The house of Dr. Iswanto, was filled with simple and effective sustainable technologies, and it felt as we had simply stepped into a future - a greener and cleaner future. Everything in the house was a testament to this, from furniture made from recycled tires in the living room, home composting, fertilization from human waste, integrate cooking and water heating system, natural air purification and lighting, to handicrafts made from waste. The most notable aspect of the Sukunan village to me was the leadership of the community in convincing everyone to transform their lifestyles to practice more sustainable waste disposal methods. Leadership to develop vision, collaborative relationships, and a culture of sustainability is not easily gained and I believe that much can be learned from the successful experience of Sukunan village in developing its waste management systems.


Thursday, 20 September 2012
Posted by Roberto

The YRS has been excellent. The quality of the lectures has been in the main superb. The opportunity to raise questions and discuss associated issues as a group has been both challenging and rewarding. The schedule is particularly well organised, as there is a well-programmed and administered ‘close link’ between the theoretically focussed lectures with field trips where we were able to immediately observe the linkages (and absences) in the application of theory and practice. A good example involved the outstanding lecture presented by Professor Dwikorita Karnawati on disaster and risk management, especially arising from natural events such as landslides.

With that knowledge fresh in our minds, the following day, we were able to observe at close quarters the devastation wrought by the Mount Merapi Volcano on both the natural environment and the local villagers whose economic and cultural lives were so enmeshed with ‘their’ mountain. After viewing the scale of the environmental damage, and then meeting with the Leader of the village cooperative, we quickly learnt how after 2 years the village is managing to reassemble its collective spirit and organise its future.

The following day, we were presented with lectures on social entrepreneurship. The experiences from the previous day gave us a greater appreciation of what successful application of relevant theories and approaches could entail.


Monday, 17 September 2012
Posted by Ali

In academia, often times our research becomes so focused that it is not only difficult to communicate our ideas to others but that the practicality of it becomes too distant. While many of the ideas, models, and theories we discuss in the classroom may be valuable in journal publications as a young researcher in the field of sustainability science, I believe that outputs from academia should be made more applicable and accessible to the society to promote real change. Up until now I have had a lot exposure to various modeling techniques for measuring resilience and using data from various economic resource-networks I have been able to advance my understanding and interpretation of system-level resilience. However, I find that although my research thus far has been academically fruitful at this stage it is very challenging to use it for promoting resilience in social or economic systems -especially at the local community level. In the next phase of my research I intend to focus on this weakness and improve the applicability of my research in advancing resilient societies.

The 2012 Young Research School program in Jogjakarta is a valuable opportunity for me to experience multiple perspectives on how past research in measuring and increasing resilience in societies has been practically applied to local communities. Indonesia, as the host of this years YRS program, has a lot to offer in this regard. As a rapidly developing country with one of the most diverse and largest populations in the world, Indonesia is facing tremendous challenges in its sustainable development. However with every challenge there is an opportunity and I believe that there is much to learn from areas in which Indonesia has experienced success in promoting sustainable development. Therefore, I am very eager to participate in the field trips of the program and engage in discussions with practitioners, policy makers, and other researchers on the common challenges that need to be overcome in advancing practicable research in the field of sustainability science. I hope to utilize this experience to extend my research at a later stage to explore the study and application of sustainability measurements, specifically economic resilience, at the local community level.


Friday, 14 September 2012
Posted by Preeti

YRS is an excellent platform to gather and share emerging knowledge in the vast field of environment and sustainability. It gives a superb opportunity to interact with eminent professionals in academia. The theme “Building Resilient Society in Asia” was the major reason why I wanted to be here. The venue “Yogyakarta” was another attraction as it is one of the leading communities reflecting efforts and knowledge towards resilience and adaptation.

My expectation from the conference is to gain more insight into the concept of resilient societies by understanding various aspects associated with it. I want to interact with fellow researchers, share experience and know how different communities are reacting towards disaster management and adaptation. I particularly look forward to visiting various institutions and projects reflecting adaptation in Yogyakarta and understand how this can be applied to Asian context.


Friday, 14 September 2012
Posted by Imelda

I did not really expect that I would really be able to take part in the ProSPER.Net Young Researchers. It makes me excited because this project is very interesting and will give me a lot of new experience. There are some things that encourage me to join in thisproject, such as a chance to learn and enrich research skills, share ideas about many topics, talk about current issues, and build networking, friendship, as well as improving ability in English language. This is important for me to be able to improve my capacity in conducting research.

My expectations from joining Young Researchers' s school are to learn to a good researcher so that I would able to use different approaches in solving current issues, and to build networking after finishing this program. May be someday I can take a post-doctoral program with UNU IAS program.Finally, I am so happy and hopefully I will get many interesting experience in this event.


Tuesday, 11 September 2012
Posted by Roberto

There are three main reasons why I applied to attend to the YoungResearchers' School.

The first reason is to develop my understanding and increase myexposure to emerging issues that are in play. I am especially interested in issues such as public health, eradication of poverty,and government policies and programmes to encourage individual and community entrepreneurship. I feel that gaining a greater personalunderstanding of these issues, and the various theoretical conceptsplus successful programme applications and examples, would be totallyengaging.

The second reason is to experience a snapshot of Indonesian life. While I live ‘next door’ in Australia, I have only spent time in other parts of South East Asia. The opportunity to visit Indonesia and experience firsthand the richness of its culture, and observe how Indonesia is managing its economy would be a terrific experience.

The third reason is the opportunity to meet fellow like-minded ResearchSchool attendees, and generate a network of international contacts and colleagues that I hope to access both personally and professionally inthe future.

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