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  • Leang Un

    The treasury of wealth perished while they are alive, and the scholars remain as long as time remains.

    Ali Ibn Abi Talib AS

    Current affiliation: Royal University of Phnom Penh


    Upon obtaining his first degree in Philosophy at Cambodia’s capital from the Royal University of Phnom Penh (1995-1999), Dr. Leang UN then pursued a master’s in Philosophy from Ateneo de Manila University, Philippines (2000-2003). He completed his education in the Netherlands, where earned a Doctorate in Social and Behavioral Science from the University of Amsterdam (2007-2012). During the early years of his career (2003-2007), he taught Philosophy at several Cambodian higher education institutions while taking part in local development work through local NGOs. He attributes these grassroot engagements as the inspiration for him to obtain greater levels of education, as he felt it would better equip him to serve Cambodian people and actively taking part in the development work and policy making. Born during the genocide period of the Khmer Rouge regime and grow up into a humble family of farmers and street venders where he spent a lot of time earning income with his illiterate mother during the civil wars of 1980s, Dr. UN always understand what it means to live in poverty and family struggles. He always told by his parents that a way out of poverty and personal as well as family advancement will be only through education and this expanding his ideal of education as a tool for local and national development at his later stage in life. Immediately after completing his doctoral studies, his practical contributions were immediately felt in the education sector both at the local and international level through his various positions at Royal University of Phnom Penh (RUPP) as a director of the graduate program in education, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport (MoEYS) in policy making, and consulting for various international development organizations. These engagements have allowed him to understand and reflect upon the relationship between education and development further deeper – where he concludes greater education and development is not merely a correlation, but a direct causation. Dr. UN also often contributes to the field of academia, where his research interest includes governance & finance of education, and education policy & development discourse, with a recent shift to include the social sciences and humanities as well. His publications have found its way to top journals in the field of education such as Comparative Education and the Asia Pacific Journal of Education, as well as impactful regional publications such as the Journal of the Humanities and Social Sciences of Southeast Asia and Oceania and his most recent book’s chapter and article “(Higher) Education Policy and Project Intervention in Cambodia: Its Development Discourse” in “Education in Cambodia: from Year Zero towards International Standards” published by Springer and “Higher Education and Its Research: For What and For Whome?” by Journal of Higher Education, Nagoya University respectively. Dr. Un Leang’s academic reputation has also reflected in his invitation to speak at key academic institutions and development forum in Cambodia as well as in various part of the world such as Education University of Hong Kong, Kyoto University, Nagoya University, Comparative Education Society of Asia, Swedish International Development Agency, Centre for Khmer Studies, Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, Korean Studies Association of Southeast Asia, Cambodia Development Centre and Association of Asian Studies. His career comprises of much extensive international and multi-national collaborations, which facilitates his comparative analysis in education and development discourse derives from his doctoral studies on comparative analysis, looking particularly at how greater education contributes to the development in post-conflict societies. He has been a research fellow at the Mekerere University, Uganda in 2009, a visiting scholar at Northern Illinois University, USA in 2011, an off-residential senior research fellow at the Center for Khmer Studies, Cambodia in 2014, a research fellow at Kyoto University in Japan and Unisersiti Sains Malaysia, Malaysia in 2019 and a visiting professor at Nagoya University, Japan in 2022. In 2014, he received a grant to join the International Visitor Leadership Program provided by the Department of State, USA, focusing on higher education in United States of America. His career came full circle, where in 2016, he was appointed as the Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities at the Royal University of Phnom (RUPP). In addition, he also currently serves a board member of Phnom Penh-based think tank, the Cambodia Development Center. Besides his administrative roles, his interest in research continues, with a recent focus not only on education and development discourse, but towards a broader relation between education and the social sciences and humanities, embracing a broader question of not only addressing “how to”, but also “for what” and “for whom” does education and development serve.

    (Higher) Education Policy and Project Intervention in Cambodia: Its Development Discourse

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