In the last few years, foreign students and researchers' interest in research on Indonesia has declined. This is not solely because of the complicated bureaucracy, but they assess that the topic about Indonesia became increasingly unattractive. The interest has moved to several countries, like China, Vietnam, India, and Africa.
"It's not solely the problem of bureaucracy, but research interest in other countries such as China, Vietnam, Africa, and India, are more 'exotic'," said the French Literature lecturer, Dr. Wening Udasasmoro, M. Hum., D.E.A , on the sidelines of the preparation of The 2nd International Graduate Students Conference on Indonesia in the Graduate School on Monday (1/11).
She conveyed the information from faculty and researchers in several universities in the Netherlands and France, for example, that students who take the study of Indonesia over the years continued to decline. For example, a few years ago a class accommodated up to 50 students, now it currently has only 10-15 students.
"Information from college’s teaching staff in France and the Netherlands says that the demand of studies about Indonesia is declining. If every class does not fulfil the 10 people quota, the study program can be closed," said Wening, who is also the seminar committee.
The same thing was also expressed by the Director of the UGM Graduate School, Prof. Dr. Hartono, D.E.A., D.E.S.S,. In fact, in anticipation to the possibility that the study of the Indonesian program is closed, the managers abroad should be willing to do promotions and road shows at high schools while there are many topics and issues related to Indonesia which can be made as research objects. He pointed out the wisdom (indigenous wisdom) of people of Indonesia and the recent actual topic, such as the late Mbah Maridjan, caretaker of Mount Merapi.
"Indonesian Local wisdom is abundant which can be extracted and made a research topic," said Hartono.
There are many steps that can be taken to prevent the decline in interest. In addition to holding various seminars or discussions involving foreign students, networking with foreign universities and joint research should be encouraged. Hartono gave example of the Graduate School which recently has established cooperation with three universities in Cairo, Egypt, namely Al Azhar, the Suez Canal, and American Education in Cairo University.
"The cooperation is related to the development of Middle Eastern studies, Islamic economics, philosophy, and Arabic language," said Hartono.
Meanwhile, related to the increasing cooperation and development of discussion and contemporary research topics of Indonesia, the Graduate School will hold the 2nd International Graduate Students Conference on Indonesia, with the theme of Indonesia and the New Challenge: Multiculturalism, Identity, and Self-Narration on 3 November 2010.
There are many new phenomena emerging in Indonesia in the context of social, economic, politic, legal, and cultural aspects, as in the law case of Prita Mulyasari which gave an example of how an inferior subject struggles against hospitals and courts. Other cases, such as Century Bank scandal, also show another surprise in the legal and political issues in Indonesia. Later on the event that involves the S-2 and S-3 students will discuss about 95 papers of students from various countries, including Indonesia, Japan, Germany, Singapore, Australia, Philippines, USA, Bangladesh, and Myanmar.
Conference and seminars will present keynote speakers such as Michael Feener (National University of Singapore), an expert in religious studies, Ariel Heryanto (Australian National University), an expert on culture studies, RW Connell (University of Sydney, Australia), an expert on gender/masculinity, and Harry Aveling (La Trobe University).