Vietnam is in the midst of restructuring its university and research training policies, which make up one of the pillars of its development strategy.  This strategy is characterizedin part by an increase in enrollment (masters, doctorates), an improvement in quality (policy of “excellence”) and an acceptance of external cooperation (foreign universities, reinforced partnerships). At its highest political levels, the international community would like to encourage this development in Vietnam, particularly by supporting the plan, “20,000 doctors by 2020.”

In order to work toward this goal, the researchers of the research unit DIAL at IRD instigated the implementation of social sciences doctoral days in November 2008 with the active support of  the Institute of Research for Development (IRD) representative office in Vietnam, the “Agence Universitaire de la Francophonie” (AUF), the “Fonds de Solidarité Prioritaire en Sciences Sociales” (FSP2S), “University of Social Sciences and Humanities, Vietnam National University-Hanoi” (USSH), “Pôle Universitaire Français” (PUF) and the Vietnam Academy of Social Sciences (VASS). After the launching phase, a financing agreement for three years (2009-2011) was signed between the VASS, AUF, IRD and the USSH.

At a rhythm of one session per trimester, the Social Sciences Doctoral Days in Southeast Asia will reinforce the capacities of Vietnamese doctoral candidates, as well as those from the region (Cambodia, Laos, Thailand), in particular those enrolled in national or Francophone universities (or in co-direction or co-tutoring). These exchanges will allow doctoral candidates to present their work in progress and submit it for critique by a specialized audience or by those interested in the research.  It is also an opportunity to address theoretical and practical problems encountered in this field, by emphasizing questions on methodology.

Each session lasts one day and is organized around a uniting and multi-disciplinary topic in order to cross examine the subject from the view points of many disciplines.  After an introduction of the topic and the research questions by a confirmed researcher, each of the two doctoral candidates presents an article/chapter in progress that is “discussed” by another doctoral candidate, and then by a researcher.  Submitting work to critical examination by peers is the founding principle of the scientific process. These exchanges are followed by a general session of questions/answers. In the afternoon presentations focus on specific methodological approach, instruments and/or on original related subject proposals (data base access and use, scientific writing training, initiation to GIS, modeling, professional perspectives after the thesis, etc.).

This program brings together approximately one hundred participants at each session (doctoral candidates, researchers, academics), from Vietnam and the rest of Southeast Asia.  They are part of a larger program of training initiatives (Tam Dao Summer School Week, conferences etc.).

This process aims to permanently establish the Social Sciences Doctoral Days in order to eventually form an international doctoral program with the association of one or more universities (Francophone and Vietnamese).  In fact, this model could be replicated in other regions (Sub-Saharan Africa, etc.), and accordingly, contacts have already been made.

Jean-Pierre Cling, Stéphane Lagrée, Mireille Razafindrakoto, François Roubaud

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AUF ASSV Pôle universitaire français Vietnam National University, Hanoi