The Institute of Asian Studies is playing a crucial role in the coordination and support of research and teaching on Borneo across all universities and research centres and institutes in Brunei, Sabah, Sarawak and Kalimantan through the Borneo Studies Network whose secretariat is based at IAS-UBD. It is also actively involved in collaboration beyond the Borneo states both within Southeast Asia and the wider Asian region. IAS has therefore formulated a set of objectives to bring synergy to this wide range of research interests and networks both within and outside the university.
First, this Research Cluster examines changes in Borneo which require multidisciplinary collaboration across the social sciences and natural sciences, specifically focusing on environmental transformations and the conservation and protection of biodiversity as exemplified in the Heart of Borneo project, and those changes associated with modern technologies in such fields as industrial development and petroleum engineering. Second, we are focusing on the pre-historical and historical context of change in Borneo bringing together such disciplines and multidisciplinary interests as archaeology, history, language and linguistics, geography, classical and textual studies, and environmental studies. Third, we are addressing a range of modern issues affecting the populations and landscapes (both cultural and natural) in Borneo: among others, urbanisation and the emergence of an educated middle class; tourism development; the conservation and presentation of Biocultural Diversity; the development of popular culture and the media; changing identities in their widest sense (ethnic, gender, age, class, state and territory); migration, labour mobility, and diasporas; and rural change and development. Fourth, although we are pursuing academic or pure research, we are always conscious of the ways in which this research feeds into issues of policy and application; we are therefore constantly marrying concepts with practice. Fifth, we are committed to situating Borneo within the wider Southeast Asian region, not only with regard to Brunei and those countries with territories in Borneo, namely the Federation of Malaysia and the Republic of Indonesia, but also in relation to the other members of ASEAN and particularly those with interests in the South China Sea. Finally, because we are an Institute based in Brunei, we are concerned to promote the multidisciplinary study of Brunei and its relations with other parts of Borneo.