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SEA Symposium 2016 – Call for Volunteers

Project Southeast Asia is seeking enthusiastic volunteers to help organise and run the 5th Annual Southeast Asian Studies Symposium at the University of Oxford, 14 – 16 April 2016.

The Southeast Asian Studies Symposium is the world’s largest annual conference on Southeast Asia. It aims to present interdisciplinary and transnational solutions to contemporary Southeast Asian issues; to provide opportunities for dialogue and networking among academic, business, political, and civil society leaders from Europe and Southeast Asia; and to provide a platform for emerging and established scholars to demonstrate their latest research on Southeast Asia.

In 2015, over 700 people took part in the 4th annual Symposium, held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. It was opened by DYMM Sultan Nazrin Shah of Perak, and closed with a public lecture by Jeffrey Sachs (Columbia University). [Above: Photo of the volunteers at the 4th Symposium, at Sunway University, Malaysia.]

In 2016, the 5th annual Southeast Asian Studies Symposium returns to Oxford. It will be held at the state of the art Andrew Wiles Building of the Mathematical Institute.

For more information, please visit the 2016 Symposium page (or visit the pages for the 2014 or 2015 Symposia) or email Dr PJ Thum (

An introductory meeting will be held on 19 May 2015, Tuesday, at 6 pm, at The Jam Factory (Hollybush Row, Oxford OX1 1HU). Please email Dr PJ Thum,, if you are interested in attending. Finger food and drinks will be served.

Download an information leaflet.

Why Volunteer?

  • Vision: The Symposium embodies the core vision of Project Southeast Asia: to pioneer transnational, interdisciplinary studies of Southeast Asia, in order to contribute solutions to Southeast Asia’s most pressing contemporary issues relevant to the people of Southeast Asia. The Symposium is unique. It is more than academic conference. It seeks to bring together leaders of academia, politics, business, and civil society, in order to discuss solutions and to make a difference.
  • Impact: The Southeast Asian Studies Symposium is the world’s largest annual Southeast Asian Studies conference. In 2015 it drew over 700 people, including members of royalty; politicians; over 200 of the world’s leading scholars of Southeast Asia; a wide variety of business leaders; civil society activists; and students. Speakers included DYMM Sultan Nazrin Shah of Perak, Prof Wang Gungwu (National University of Singapore); Prof Nick Rawlins (University of Oxford); Prof Barry Eichengreen (University of California, Berkeley); and Prof Jeffrey Sachs (Columbia University).
  • Innovation: The Symposium is entirely volunteer-run, and we welcome students and scholars of all levels who are interested in Southeast Asia. We  offer great scope for enterprising, entrepreneurial individuals to make a difference in the field of Southeast Asian Studies and to organise a major international conference. Do you have an idea for how to bring people together to make Southeast Asia a better place? We are a platform for you to make that idea a reality.

All volunteers will receive complimentary registration for the Southeast Asian Studies Symposium.


In previous years, volunteers have helped with:

  1. Shaping the theme of the conference;
  2. Inviting and liaising with speakers and special guests (eg policy makers, diplomats, keynote speakers, etc.); Liaising with them regarding travel and accommodation arrangements
  3. Shaping the structure of the conference (eg creating workshops, organising panels, creating cultural events);
  4. Keeping track of the budget;
  5. Tracking registrations; organising and running the registration process at the conference;
  6. Tracking panel, paper, and poster submissions; Assisting with the peer review process and panel/paper selection; communicating with panel organisers and paper and poster presenters;
  7. Liaising with Symposium participants, answering queries, providing Letters of Invitation for visa or funding purposes;
  8. Raising fundraising and sponsorship;
  9. Securing and booking a suitable venue or location;
  10. Checking to ensure that insurance, legal, health and safety obligations are adhered to;
  11. Coordinating venue management, caterers, stand designers, contractors and equipment hire;
  12. Organising facilities for car parking, traffic control, security, first aid, hospitality and the media;
  13. Coordinating staffing requirements and staff briefings;
  14. Selling sponsorship/stand/exhibition space to potential exhibitors (usually, publishers)/partners; coordinating stands/exhibition space with the venue; receiving exhibition materials from exhibitors;
  15. Preparing delegate packs and papers;
  16. Promoting the event; working with designers to create a brand for the event and organising the production of tickets, posters, the Symposium booklet; and flyers,
  17. Organising online and social media coverage via our website, and official facebook, twitter, and instagram feeds;
  18. Coordinating suppliers, handling participant queries and troubleshooting on the day of the event to ensure that all runs smoothly;
  19. Reporting on and filming sessions;
  20. Acting as timekeepers and ushers during the Symposium;
  21. Overseeing the dismantling and removal of the event and clearing the venue efficiently;
  22. Post-event evaluation (including feedback surveys, data entry and analysis, and producing reports for event stakeholders);
  23. Providing Certificates of Participation to participants on request;
  24. Maintaining databases of contacts for each event, and also for events organisation, e.g. useful catering contacts;

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