SEARCA promotes ‘human ecology’ as field of study

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THE Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) believe human ecology as a field of study will help address the problems or needs faced by the Southeast Asian region particularly on climate change, natural resource degradation, and food security and nutrition.

This idea was promoted during the first international conference on human ecology for Asia hosted by the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) and the Philippine government-hosted SEARCA on November 28 to December 1.

This 22nd International Conference of the Society for Human Ecology with the theme “Envisioning pathways to just and sustainable futures: Celebrating diversity, pursuing integration, and developing livable communities” has trained a spotlight on global practices, initiatives and possibilities that contribute to shaping a more sustainable world.

During the SEARCA-led session on Pathways to the Promotion of Human Ecology in Southeast Asia, officials said they hope to put a face to human ecology and mainstream it as an important field of study and practice in addressing complex development issues affecting Southeast Asia and other developing regions of the world.


“Our hope is for human ecology to be recognized for its unique and important role in agricultural and rural development,” SEARCA Director Gil Saguiguit Jr. said.

He said key officials from members of the SEARCA-initiated Southeast Asian University Consortium for Graduate Education in Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC) that have existing colleges or faculty in human ecology presented their academic programs in human ecology education, research and extension.

The presenters were Husniyah Abdul Rahim of the Universiti Putra Malaysia, Arif Satria of Indonesia’s Institut Pertanian Bogor, and Raden Piadozo of UPLB.

Other UC members who discussed the relevance of instituting a program in human ecology in their institutions were Buncha Chinnasri of Thailand’s Kasetsart University, Dyah Hizbaron of Indonesia’s Universitas Gadjah Mada, and Bagyo Yanuwiadi of Universitas Brawijaya, also in Indonesia.

UPLB Graduate School’s Jose Camacho Jr. and Australian National University’s Robert Dyball also discussed a number of strategies to promote human ecology in the region, one of which is the strengthening of networks among universities that offer and may potentially offer the program.

Experts from Australia, Brazil, Japan, Portugal, the United States and Vietnam also shared their views on the promotion of Human Ecology.

The session was partly funded by the Food Security Center (FSC) based at the University of Hohenheim in Stuttgart, Germany. SEARCA is a strategic partner of FSC, one of five Excellence Center for Development Cooperation funded by the Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development or BMZ of Germany, through the German Academic Exchange Service or DAAD.

Saguiguit said the conference is a rich source of lessons, insights and experiences that will help and guide SEARCA in crafting its 11th five-year plan, the basis of the center’s continued work for the region in the next five years until 2024.

During the conference, 200 global and regional practitioners, researchers, policymakers, experts and academics gathered to discuss contemporary research and practices in promoting a just and sustainable future.

It also aimed to strengthen partnerships among human ecology institutions in the region through the creation of an alliance or network of human ecology institutions in Asia, and closely link it with the Society for Human Ecology.

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