The International Geographical Union (IGU) Regional Network for Southeast Asia, Australasia and the Southwest Pacific was created in July 2006 and is the fourth Regional Network, adding to the existing Latin America, Mediterranean and Commonwealth of Independent States IGU Regional Networks. The new network brings together geographers from Southeast Asia, Australia, New Zealand and Southwest Pacific island nations including Papua New Guinea. The Network aims to foster collaborative research and teaching initiatives, mutual support and mentoring activity. The Network has adopted the acronym SEAASWP, to be pronounced “Sea-Swap”, reflecting its regional coverage, maritime extent and spirit of exchange. SEAASWP is coordinated by Associate Professor Philip Hirsch from the School of Geosciences, University of Sydney.
The overarching area of interest of SEAASWP is theory and practice in teaching and research on development and post-development, within which there is room for sub-themes and more focused study groups and projects. SEAASWP builds on several existing collaborative initiatives, and it provides a framework for developing new areas. The existing initiatives include:
- ChATSEA – The Challenge of the Agrarian Transition in Southeast Asia – a collaborative research program whose core is a grouping of geographers from ten universities in SE Asia, Australia, Canada and the UK, and whose funding comes from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada
- A program on community economies involving geographers from Australia, the Philippines and Indonesia supported by AusAID
- The Mekong Learning Initiative, a teaching, learning and research network involving universities in SE Asia and Australia with NGO support
- A transnational communities project, based in New Zealand and engaging geographers in the SE Asia / Pacific region
The Regional Network has established this website based at the University of Sydney, and it invites participation from geographers either located or interested in the region and the themes it covers. The University of Sydney is providing support through its International Program Development Fund for the first year of SEAASWP’s establishment.