Flagship Programs

Three researches on social and humanities will be the research priority for the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Organization (IPSH RO) of the National Research and Innovation Agency (BRIN). Head of IPSH RO, Prof. Ahmad Najib Burhani, said that the Research Organization (RO) has three flagship research, i.e., research on Papua and regions in Eastern Indonesia, research on maritime affairs, and research on digital society and culture. 

According to Najib, even though IPSH RO has three research flagships, it does not mean that other research projects are not carried out. Various researches in accordance with the expertise and passion of researchers are still being carried out under several schemes offered by BRIN, such as the Program Home, Sailing Day, Expedition and Exploration, and so forth. 

“There is no need for all researchers to switch to the three existing flagships. They can continue to pursue their interests and expertise because the uniqueness of a researcher lies in the depth and persistence of the field he/she is studying. Priority is made because of urgent needs and demands to resolve this issue by 2024,” explained the man who earned his Doctoral Degree in Religious Studies from the University of California-Santa Barbara. 

With regard to research on Papua and eastern Indonesia, Najib said that the IPSH RO is collaborating with a consortium that is studying the area, among the consortium members are the Satya Wacana Christian University (SWCU) Salatiga, Cendrawasih University Papua, and Cendrawasih University. “The IPSH RO invites a number of researchers outside BRIN and academics as well as several campuses there to be involved in this research flagship,” he said. 

In its implementation, the Best Researcher in the field of Social Sciences and Humanities wants to adopt and modify the Cornell’s Modern Indonesia Project which was implemented with several campuses in the United States, such as Yale, Harvard, MIT, and Cornell, in the 1950s and 1960s when conducting various researches on Indonesia. 

“We would like to combine researchers from Jakarta and regions to be involved in studies on Papua. IPSH intends to invite academics and students in Papua to be involved in researching and writing about the wealth of knowledge that exists in Papua and in various other places in eastern Indonesia,” he said. 

According to Najib, this research on Papua is actually the continuation of what the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) had done since the 1970s. IPSH has documented various studies on the website papua.lipi.go.id, including a study on the Papua Roadmap that was done by the late Muridan and his team. IPSH wants to make this research a research priority and provides a sufficient foundation of knowledge for the government to formulate the best policies related to Papua. 

“We hope that various areas in Papua that have not been touched by ethnographic research and have not been explored will receive serious attention. Do not let scientists lose to missionaries in exploring remote, farthest, outermost, and deepest areas in Indonesia. We hope that, before 2024, IPSH will have been able to provide various solid knowledge products related to Papua,” explained the man who was born in Blitar on 27 April 1976. 

Regarding the maritime research flagship, Najib said that this research is carried out due to the condition of Indonesia as an archipelagic and maritime country. This research intends to make this nation’s condition as a strength to compete in the global realm. Unfortunately, we don’t have rich research on this yet.  According to Najib, in the past LIPI has started this, including a study conducted by Adrian B. Lapian with his book Orang Laut, Bajak Laut, Raja Laut (2009). However, this maritime study is always on and off. Just like the study on Papua, Indonesian maritime actually offers a very rich source of knowledge for scientists and challenges them to produce various scientific products on maritime studies. For this reason, we have raised this theme as one of IPSH’s flagships. 

Another basis for IPSH making maritime research a priority is the government programs, including the Ministry of Education and Research and Technology, which launched the Spice Route program as an effort to strengthen Indonesia’s position as the world’s maritime axis and strengthen the maritime culture of the archipelago. In the short term, this program designs it so that the Spice Route will in 2024 be recognized as the World’s Cultural Heritage by UNESCO. 

This program is also related to the Sea Toll program of the Joko Widodo administration which connects various islands and regions in Indonesia. All of these plans and projects require solid study and research and BRIN IPSH strives to be the provider of basic knowledge requirements for various programs and plans. Thus, what the government has been doing will not be misguided and can, from the scientific perspective, contribute to the world civilization. 

The third priority, digital society and culture, has become an urgent need because the world has shifted to a digital society. This digital civilization has penetrated into all aspects of life, including religious rituals. This shift does not only affect the economy and education, but also spirituality.  IPSH RO has started research on digital several years ago and was more intensive in 2021 by holding a conference on Digital Disruptions in collaboration with the ISEAS Yusof Ishak Institute, Singapore.

The RO has started to adopt digital research for various studies and surveys.  Particularly during the Covid-19 pandemic, shift to the digital world is increasing, for example related to Work from Home (WfH), online education system, and virtual worship. The existence of social media has significantly affected interaction and life in society, including political order and competition. IPSH has tried to communicate with the Google to conduct research on AI for Social Good. Research on Smart City has also been carried out, and so are research on issues of cyber security, digital economy, and so on. (jml/ed: drs)