Spotlight on Graduate Student Conference

Malaysian student Abu Bakar Husni from the University of Delaware asks a question at the conference's opening session.

Some 130 graduate students from 50 universities in 25 nations gathered at the Hawaii Imin International Conference Center Feb. 14-16 to present their research at the East-West Center’s 7th annual International Graduate Student Conference.


The interdisciplinary gathering, planned and organized by EWC students, is the largest of its kind worldwide.The primarily self-funded participants were selected from 440 graduate students who submitted abstracts. About 30 of the presenters are from outside the U.S., 30 more are from Hawaii, and the remainder are from the U.S. mainland.The three-day conference included some 32 sessions in a number of areas focusing on the Asia Pacific region and its interactions with the U.S. Panel topics ranged from “Transnational Migrant Experiences,”  “Health and Aging Issues,” and “State, Minorities and Conflict,” to “Education in a Globalized World,” “Economic Growth and Inequality,” “Media and Society” – and much more.


At the conference’s opening session on the evening of Feb. 14, the students were welcomed by East-West Center President Charles E. Morrison and Education Program Director Terance Bigalke , both of whom noted the conference’s auspicious beginning on Valentine’s Day.

Then EWC Adjunct Senior Fellow and National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration climate information expert Eileen Shea delivered the conference’s keynote address on “Changing Climate in the Asia Pacific: Building Resilient Communities.”

“Many of the challenges that this region faces, and the world faces, are going to be yours to deal with,” Shea told the international assembly. “You are the hope of the future. You are the intellect that will help us get out of some of the binds that we’ve brought ourselves to. You are the ones who are going to find some opportunities that none of us could ever dream of. And, in the spirit of Valentine’s Day, it’s important for us to think about joining one anther in doing this together. This is about establishing relationships with one another, and it’s about establishing a new form of relationship with planet on which we all live.”

The co-chairs for this year’s conference were EWC Degree Fellows Turro Wongkaren and Neneng Rosmy, both of whom are from Indonesia.