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Open call
Roundtable discussion panel at ICAS 13 (Surabaya, Indonesia)

Open call for RCN partners.

This is a call for participation in a roundtable discussion addressed to RCN partners who are using—or intend to use—community engagement approaches and tools in their RCN project.

A collaboration between Southeast Asia Neighborhoods Network (SEANNET) and River Cities Network (RCN).

RCN and the Southeast Asia Neighborhood Network (SEANNET) are jointly organizing a roundtable discussion panel at the 13th edition of the International Convention of Asia Scholars (ICAS), which will be held in Surabaya, East Java, Indonesia from July 28 to August 1, 2024  (  Please see the full text of the roundtable panel abstract below, as well as a description of SEANNET.  

The roundtable panel brings together representatives of SEANNET and RCN project teams for a joint discussion about the role, methods, and challenges associated with using community engagement tools in their work. Since teams in both networks are using these methods, we thought it would be a good idea to “join forces” and share notes and insights. 

RCN can access limited funding through IIAS to support the participation of RCN partners in the roundtable panel. This funding covers partial transportation expenses and fully covers a three-night stay in Surabaya during ICAS, including registration fees (if required). The funding is designated for a maximum of one member per team. Additional team members are welcome to attend but are expected to cover their own travel, accommodation, and registration. 

If you are interested to participate in this panel and would like to apply for RCN funding, please fill in the short application form on page 3 and send it to Cherelle Karsseboom at before Monday, 4 March 2024. 


Roundtable panel abstract

Why do we conduct community engagement in our academic life and as a basis for policymaking? The term ‘community engagement’ is widely used in academic and policymaking realms, but the conceptualization and the application of community engagement vary. Community-engagement generally refers to a spectrum of approaches and commitments and a range of applications that are relevant and sensitive to community well-being and that promote the active involvement of community groups and organizations in collaboration with researchers and planners. 

Community engagement has attracted a range of criticisms, which include furthering power inequalities between researchers and research subjects; objectification of community groups; perpetuation of local social inequalities by relying on elites to provide access; and others. Amidst such criticisms, community-engaged research is facing continuous resistance, which might also accelerate more broad-based resistance towards this participatory approach. Therefore, community engagement requires deeper thinking and insights about both its conceptual and practical dimensions to enable it to be a meaningful approach. Essential questions for practitioners of community engagement are: Why do we conduct community engagement in research, teaching, and other aspects of academia, as well as in policymaking? What are the principles of community engagement? What are its effective methods? 

In this roundtable discussion, panelists will be asked to reflect on their own experiences in using community-engaged methods and how they learn these methods. Panelists will also reflect on the advantages and challenges of this approach, and what needs to be done for more meaningful community-engaged academic endeavors—both in research and policymaking—in the future.  

Panelists will include principal investigators from Southeast Asia Neighborhoods Network (SEANNET) teams as well as principal investigators from selected River Cities Network (RCN) teams that are applying community engagement techniques in their RCN projects. 



Rita Padawangi (Singapore University of Social Sciences), SEANNET Coordinator and Advisor to RCN.
Paul Rabé (International Institute for Asian Studies), RCN Coordinator.



Established in 2017, SEANNET is an initiative involving research, teaching and dissemination of knowledge on Southeast Asia through the prism of the city and urban communities. Funded by the Henry Luce Foundation in New York, SEANNET focuses on the development of contextualized knowledge on the spatio-human environment of neighborhoods in select cities of Southeast Asia. This is done through participative field-research, in-situ policy roundtables, local capacity building exercises, academic conferences, publications, documentary films and web-supported interactive syllabi. 

SEANNET is coordinated by Dr. Rita Padawangi, Associate Professor at the College of Interdisciplinary and Experiential Learning at Singapore University of the Social Sciences. Rita is also an advisor for RCN. For an overview of the project teams in SEANNET, please visit: 


Application form 

Please download and complete this form and send it to Cherelle Karsseboom at before Monday, 4 March 2024, if you would like to participate in the joint SEANNET-RCN roundtable panel at ICAS 13 on “Rethinking Community-engaged Approaches: Principles, Methods, and Tools”. 

This roundtable bring together scholars, researchers, and professionals from SEANNET and RCN who have prior experience in using community engagement approaches in their work—or who have a genuine interest in using these techniques in their projects but have not used them before. For our (general) definition of “community engagement methods”, please see the abstract. 

Photo by Satya Maia Patchineelam: Community of Cachoeirinha, Iriri River, Pará, Brazil.

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