PNG Scholar: Sangion Tiu hopes to make significant contributions to her home country.
It's not easy being away from family and friends, studying for a PhD in a foreign country with an 11 year old son in tow.
But Sangion Tiu is making a pretty good fist of it and things have taken a turn for the better with the Papua New Guinea scholar announced as the inaugural recipient of the Dr Zena Daysh Doctoral Fellowship in Sustainability. The Fellowship is named for New Zealand-born Zena Daysh, founder and Chair of the Commonwealth Human Ecology Council and a long-time advocate for sustainability. The University of Waikato conferred an honorary doctorate on her in London in 2009 and when she passed away in 2011 a generous bequest was made from her estate to fund the Fellowship.
The Fellowship provides course fees and living expenses for a student undertaking research in sustainability towards a doctoral degree at the University of Waikato.
Scholarship relieves pressure
Sangion, who is working towards her PhD researching traditional ecological knowledge and sustainability with implications for developing a policy framework for sustainability education in Papua New Guinea, says receiving the Fellowship award comes as a huge relief.
“It relieves the pressure of looking for work to try and make ends meet,” she says.
“My husband is back at home working and my family is very grateful at what the University has given me so it is a relief for them as well.”
Sangion says her research is looking at ways to include indigenous knowledge in policy making decisions.
“It is about how to get policy to recognise and include indigenous knowledge of the environment, sustainability, ecology, these kinds of things,” she says.
Study to make long term contributions to the people of Papua New Guinea
“I am bringing issues of traditional environmental and ecological knowledge into a more focused system.”
She had been looking for policies which took note of the knowledge which already exists among indigenous peoples “but found it was missing, there is a gap there.”
She says in Papua New Guinea, many of the developments going ahead involve large, extractive industries such as mining, which can have detrimental impacts on the environment which people need to survive.
“In Papua New Guinea, more than 80% of people still live in villages, they have a high dependency on the environment,” she says.
“What I do will contribute in the long term to my people and the country as well.”