State chosen for architecture, eco-tourism trip

Khoa talks about the setting of the Curtin Sarawaken exhibition with students.

MIRI: Over 90 students accompanied by academics from two departments of the School of Built Environment, Faculty of Humanities at Curtin University’s Perth Campus chose Sarawak as their destination for the international field trip component of studies in architecture and eco-tourism.

The choice was made largely due to the many interesting facets of Sarawak and the opportunities for impactful study it offers, as well as an ongoing collaboration in student mobility between Perth Campus and Curtin Malaysia, Curtin University’s largest international campus here.

A group of 83 comprising 77 students and graduate architects, as well as industry experts Dr Emil Jonescu, Triet Le and Alejandro Gil, project facilitator Chris Leong and senior academics head of discipline of architecture Dr Bon Lay Ong and fellow of the Curtin Academy Associate Professor Khoa Do arrived on Jan 30 for a 19-day ‘Global Design Studio (GDS) Malaysia LiveABILITY Project’ study tour.

This was followed by the arrival of another group of 18 students accompanied by two academics from the Department of Planning and Geography on Feb 1 for a 2-week interdisciplinary fieldwork study of eco-tourism at Gunung Mulu National Park, the Unesco World Heritage site some 25 minutes by air from Miri.

According to Curtin Malaysia pro vice-chancellor president and chief executive Professor Jim Mienczkowski, these study tours are the first of several planned, and are part of Curtin University’s aim to further internationalise its courses through study tours, student internships and exchange, collaborations and partnerships.

Led by GDS co-founder and director Associate Professor Khoa Do, the GDS Malaysia LiveABILITY Project will be conducted in three stages, beginning with a think-tank stage ‘Curtin Sarawaken’ where students undertake a scoping-study of Sarawak and discover value insights to learning and teaching at Curtin Malaysia.

This will include aspects like campus activation and learning environments, design and creative thinking pedagogy, influence of community and cultures, and impact of Sarawak’s tourism and economic development strategies.

The outcomes will be translated into a ‘Sarawak Futures’ exhibition the students will set up at Curtin Malaysia, featuring a collection of physical artefacts and an interactive experience that captures local narratives, illustrate the ‘intellectual footprint’ of the Malaysia campus, captivate imagination through creative works, and communicate Sarawak’s potential futures.

The aim of the second stage (studies/projects) will be to advance findings from the first stage into projects that will support dialogue and engagement with the wider community, and highlight the importance of Curtin Malaysia’s intellectual footprint.

The final stage will see the findings of the intellectual footprint positioned globally through the hosting of an international symposium.

Khoa said it is hoped that from the three-stage programme in 2017, an exciting annual event will be created to bring the best and brightest students to Curtin Malaysia to engage in impactful projects.

He noted a great need to connect Curtin campuses and conduct activities that support knowledge sharing, collaborative research and exchanges focused on the internationalisation of curriculum and industry-relevant and interdisciplinary engagement.

The eco-tourism group led by lecturer Jake Schapper and school business manager Dennis Ham is studying the effect of local cultural, social, political and economic influences on eco-tourism at Gunung Mulu National Park.

The project aims at facilitating and enhancing Mulu’s eco-tourism potential with due consideration to the sustainable development of the area.

Students from various disciplines such as urban and regional planning, architecture and construction management will conceptualise a multi-disciplinary context-responsive approach to designing a project plan set within the national park.

This will include engaging with the local community and stakeholders and designing a facility within the national park that will boost eco-tourism in a sustainable way.

In addition to Mulu, the group will also visit Lambir Hills National Park and Brunei, and engage with academics at Curtin Malaysia and Universiti Brunei Darussalam through meetings, lectures and workshops to gain insights into the opportunities and challenges of eco and sustainable tourism in the area.

Both groups presented their findings to members of Curtin Malaysia Council, including Curtin Malaysia pro-chancellor Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Dr George Chan and Curtin Malaysia chairman Datu Ose Murang at a project presentation at Curtin Malaysia campus yesterday.

Also present were Curtin Malaysia deputy pro vice-chancellor Professor Beena Giridharan, Curtin Malaysia council member Datuk JC Fong and Curtin Perth pro vice-chancellor Professor Alan Dench of the Faculty of Humanities.

Source: The Borneo Post

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