Director′s Message In the nine years since the Institute for Social and Environmental Research-Nepal (ISER-N) was founded, its involvement in research, capacity building, and policy feedback and program interventions has been both exciting and challenging. Since its inception, ISER-N and the Population Studies Center (PSC) of the Institute for Social Research (SRC) at the University of Michigan (U of M), Ann Arbor in the United States joined hands and have been running the Population and Ecology Research Laboratory (PERL). The institute has been a home for social and environmental studies and has created a diverse array of programs and opportunities to address the complex social and environmental issues facing Nepal’s rapidly changing society with the goal of improving human lives and environmental conditions. ISER-N’s thrust lies on evidence-based decision-making processes that build upon high quality scientific research based on state-of-the-art cutting-edge research methods and techniques.
Over a years, ISER-N has made significant progress in achieving its goal and is emerging as the center of excellence for social and environmental research. First, the institute has been able to establish ties with a number of local, national and international institutions, universities and research centers. Our collaborative ties have been substantially increased over the years both within Nepal and abroad. Second, in collaboration with various institutions within Nepal and abroad, the institute has created a world class research infrastructure to carry-out high quality social and environmental research. Third, ISER-N has served as a training venue for national and international scholars and students. While a number of Nepali students and scholars continue to receive training in research methods abroad, more than a dozen international students and scholars have received hands-on practical training in social and environmental research. Even during the volatile political situation in the country, the institute was able to continue its research, educational and capacity building programs. Fourth, as part of institutionalizing research based national development planning processes, the findings and insights from research have been disseminated through presentations at various seminars and workshops, and publications through national and international outlets. These publications are being widely used as study materials and reference literature by students, teachers, and researchers in Nepal and abroad. In addition, summaries of research findings are also published as short reports and distributed to different governmental and non-governmental organizations. Finally, ISER-N has actively partnered with local communities in a set of selective community capacity building initiatives.
I would like to take this opportunity to extend my heartfelt gratitude and appreciation to our partners for the contribution extended to us throughout this period. First and foremost, in my thoughts, are the local residents of western Chitwan Valley, followed by the local and national government agencies, non-governmental organizations, and universities in Nepal and abroad. Without their unconditional support, ISER-N would not be standing where it is now. I owe a special debt of gratitude to our respondents who continuously welcome us to their homes and share their invaluable experiences, opinions, thoughts and have devoted countless hours responding to our survey questionnaires. I also owe a special debt of gratitude to the scholars and students from the Institute of Agriculture and Animal Science, Tribhuvan University and Kathmandu University in Nepal; University of Michigan, Michigan State University, University of North Carolina, Chapel-Hill, Arizona State University and San Diego State University in the United States, for their contribution to ISER-N’s program of research. Nevertheless, ISER-N has enjoyed special, long-term collaborative ties with he Population Studies Center (PSC) of the Institute for Social Research (SRC) at the University of Michigan (U of M), Ann Arbor in the United States. Though many individuals have been closely involved in the establishment and institutionalization of the institute, special mention and deep appreciation is due to Prof. William G. Axinn, Director, Survey Research Center at the University of Michigan for his unconditional support and encouragement since the very inception of the institute. Last but not least, I owe every achievement during this period to the honest and untiring teamwork of our staff. I greatly honor their dedication to the pursuit of independent inquiry, objectivity and excellence. I look forward to continuing years of challenges, collaboration and cooperation in the quest for knowledge with a purpose.
In the days to come, I also look forward to giving added impetus to building research and policy analysis capacity, while continuing social and environmental research that helps build a strong foundation for informed policies and programs in the country.
Dirgha Jibi Ghimire, Ph.D.