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27.07.2017

What has become of the ARA Best Study Award winner Siwei Zoe Tan?


Excellent academic achievements not only impress on the certificate.  ARA AG grants the Best Study Award to those ETIA students with the best academic performance over the two years of study.

One of them is Siwei Zoe Tan, alumni of the postgraduate program MSc Environmental Technology & International Affairs and winner of the ARA Best Study Award 2002: „I had switched disciplines from law, to international affairs, to science, and the ARA Award served as proof of continued academic excellence despite disciplinary transgressions. I believe it helped me secure my scholarship for a PhD in geography.“

Career steps since the graduation

The breadth of the MSc ETIA program let me explore various aspects of my interest in the relationship between man and water through regional competition and cooperation along the Mekong River, as well as the corporate interest in the scientific tool of the water footprint assessment. So it was a natural progression after ETIA when I replied to a call for doctoral fellows by the United Nations University - Environmental and Human Security and the Center for Development Research in a German BMBF-funded project on the sustainable development of the Mekong Delta. I thus moved on to Bonn to pursue my PhD in development geography, working on the water-related environmental impacts of Vietnamese rural industrialisation, which brought me to the Mekong Delta in 2011 for empirical and qualitative social research.


My dissertation, which I defended in 2015, questions the political economy of the Vietnamese economic and spatial engineering project of erecting industrial zones in an agrarian landscape. It investigates the corollary practice of redrawing administrative boundaries to determine financial allocation for these zones. These shifting boundaries not only fragmented places and feelings of community that would been critical to people organising protest against water pollution; they also resulted in a mismatch between administrative territory and administrative scale in a hierarchical state, and allowed the justification of state inaction. My work thus examines the unexpected socio-spatial outcomes of the search for and implementation of development success models.

I worked as an external lecturer at the Department of Geography at the University of Bonn for political ecology and environmental governance from 2016 to 2017. I am currently a postdoctoral researcher at the Center for Development Research where I work on water, health, and gender in Central Asia, as well as legal pluralism. I am also developing a research proposal on the political ecology of green urbanism.


You can find more information on the ARA Best Study Award here


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