Vietnam Academy Of Social Sciences
Name: Southern Institute of Social Sciences
Phone: 84-8-3 9990054
Fax: 84-8-3 9990056
Address: No.270 Nguyen Trong Tuyen, Street 8, Phu Nhuan District, Ho Chi Minh City

Functions & Tasks of The Southern Institute of Social Sciences

The Southern Institute of Social Sciences (SISS) was founded on 12 September 1975, according to the Decision No. 13/QD.75 of the Central Office for South Vietnam (COSVN). At first, the Institute was named as the Institute of Social Sciences, but its name has changed several times, including: the Institute of Social Sciences in Ho Chi Minh City (1978 – 2003); the Southern Institute of Social Sciences (2003 – 2008); the Southern Institute of Sustainable Development (2008 – 2013); and recently the Southern Institute of Social Sciences again. It was the first research institution of social sciences under the administration of Vietnam Committee of Social Sciences, which is now renamed as Vietnam Academy of Social Sciences, located in Southern Vietnam after 1975.

The functions undertaken by the Institute of Social Sciences include: (1) To do theoretical and practical research in social sciences in Southern Vietnam; (2) To provide scientific grounds for the regional sustainable development strategy-planning and policy-making; (3) To give development-policy consultancy; and (4) To take part in developing social science potentialities in Southern Vietnam.

Major achievements

1. In research activities

After being established, the Institute of Social Sciences (renamed now as the Southern Institute of Social Sciences) immediately concretized the tasks assigned by the Central Office for South Vietnam and the Governmental Council at that time, including: to mobilize the intellectual circle in the South; to provide training courses on Marxist-Leninism, the Party policy and directions; to disseminate social science knowledge to local officials and people. The Institute held training courses for nearly 200 intellectuals from Ho Chi Minh City, of which most were senior officials of the former government in Southern Vietnam before 1975. The training courses were ended by a scientific conference titled “Cultural and ideological issues in the South at the neo-colonial time”. The most outstanding achievement gained by the Institute at that time was to gather, employ and foster a workforce from many different sources, including: key researchers from institutes and universities in the North as well as from previous revolutionary units in the South; researchers, who graduated from university in the South at the time of the former government; and, local researchers, who graduated from university after 1975. This diversity of the human resources made it favorable for researchers of the Institute to share knowledge and experience in doing research and giving lectures in social sciences in the South at that time.

In addition, the Institute also carried out successfully 5 scientific programs, which were viewed as urgent at that time, to disseminate social science knowledge and set up scientific grounds for overcoming the war consequences, building the socialism, and laying a foundation of social sciences and humanities in Southern provinces. They are: 1) Neo-colonialism consequence overcoming; 2) Socio-economic changes in Southern provinces; 3) Ethnic minorities in the socialist building process; 4) Real situations and political tendencies of religions; and, 5) History and culture of Southern provinces in relation with socialist-building countries.

Specialized and inter-disciplinary research centers at the Institute also specified their missions through conferences, research projects, fieldwork surveys in rural and mountainous areas of the South, the Southern Central, and the Central Highlands.

To follow the Resolution No. 37 of the Politburo on the scientific – technological policy and the Resolution No. 138 of the Government on development of Mekong Delta, the Southern Institute of Social Sciences set up and carried out 5 region-based focal interdisciplinary research programs for the period from the 1980s to the 1990s, including: 1) Research program on issues of Ho Chi Minh City; 2) Research program on issues of the Southern Central Vietnam; 3) Research program on issues of the Central Highlands; 4) Research program on issues of Mekong Delta; and, 5) Research program on issues of the Southeastern Vietnam. Moreover, the Institute also took part in conducting the Program No.60.02 and later the Program No.60B titled “The State-level basic survey on Mekong Delta”.

At the same time, the Institute conducted a range of research projects at different levels (the State-level, the Ministerial level, and the Institute’s level) according to the annual plans approved by Vietnam Academy of Social Sciences as well as a lot of research projects in cooperation with international and local partners. By 2005, the Institute had completed more than 500 scientific research projects in total, including projects at the State/Ministerial/Institute levels and projects in cooperation with international/local institutions. Findings of those research projects have been partly published in 300 books and hundreds of scientific papers in local and international professional journals.

Interdisciplinary research results and experience achieved by the Institute for 30 years (1975 – 2005) laid the solid ground and created opportunities for promotion of social science activities and sustainable development in the South in the process of Doi moi, industrialization, modernization, regional and international integration.

In the early 2006, the Southern Institute of Social Sciences set up its goal to pursue, which was “to become not only a leading institutions for social science research and training, policy consultancy, application and dissemination of knowledge in the South but also a modernly and professionally academic organization at the regional standards”. Regarding to scientific activities, the Institute carried out and accomplished well many research programs at the ministerial level, apart from annually planned research projects at the Institute’s level. For the period 2006 – 2013, the Southern Institute of Social Sciences conducted 01 research program at the State level, 39 research projects at the Ministerial level, 177 research projects at the Institute level, and 32 research projects in cooperation with international or local partners. Some of the research projects were really remarkable, including: The basic survey and systematization of Southern archaeological literature from 1975 to 2005; The basic survey on ethnic minorities in South-western Vietnam; Oc Eo Cultural Values in South-western Vietnam through available literature; and, The sustainable development survey on enterprises in Southern Vietnam… The research programs and projects were focused on: basic and urgent political and grassroots democratic issues; economic and environmental issues; climate change; social issues, social structure and social welfare; cultural, literary and linguistic issues; ethic, anthropological and religious issues; gender and family issues; historical and archaeological issues etc… in Southern Vietnam in relation with the whole country, the region and the world as well.

Following are some typical achievements gained by the Institute in research work: The Institute has built a database with information collected from a range of research projects, including: (1) overall quantitative surveys on South-west, Southeast, and Ho Chi Minh City; (2) empirical research projects on migration, workers, healthcare, civil society, social welfare, environment and climate change; (3) research projects on historical, archaeological, ethnic, anthropological, religious, cultural and linguistic issues; and, (4) theoretical, methodological, and conspectus research works on specific disciplines and research tendencies as well. Based on results of those research projects, the Institute researchers have published 237 papers in scientific journals, 97 papers in co-author books, and 29 complete books. The Institute’s journal – The Social Science Review – has published 612 scientific papers. The Institute has held 97 local scientific conferences/workshops and 89 international ones. From 2008 up to now, especially, the Institute has regularly held the bi-annual conferences for research finding announcement with participation of a lot of scientists and practitioners from the South; for example, the conference for announcement of social science findings in the South in 2008; the conference on social sciences and sustainable development in Mekong Delta in 2010; and the conference on social sciences and sustainable development in Southeastern Vietnam in 2012.

2. In postgraduate training and human resource development

Regarding to postgraduate training, during the period from 1985 to 2010, every year the Institute held doctoral training courses for some disciplines, including: philosophy, economics, literature, linguistics, history, anthropology, archaeology as well as Master’s training courses for anthropology and history. Estimated by 2010, before the postgraduate training function was handed over to the Graduate Academy of Social Sciences, 105 Ph.D candidates (of which 23 ones were researchers of the Institute) and 61 postgraduate students (of which 5 ones were researchers of the Institute) got their Ph.D and Master’s degrees respectively in the above-mentioned disciplines at the Institute. Many doctoral or Master’s dissertations were of high quality, making contribution towards interpreting theoretical as well as practical issues involved with socio-economic development in different local areas of the South. A large number of Ph.D and Masters then became key officials of city/provincial departments in the South.

In 2007, the Institute started to carry out a social science interdisciplinary training program, aiming at improving quality and standardizing qualifications of the Institute’s research fellows and junior researchers as well as trainees, who came from other institutions, according to the international standards. The program took place successfully for 2 years with participation of 120 trainees, of which 40 ones were the Institute’s junior researchers. This is a really creative change in the training pattern for fellows and junior researchers at the Institute. It played a significant role in meeting human resource development requirements and updating on international advancements. From 2011 up to now, the Institute has standardized its workforce that includes researchers, who have the Master’s or Doctoral degrees and the titles of Associate Professor or Professor. It has also built the planning of management personnel at different levels, in order to ensure the inheritability and development in its activities as a regional interdisciplinary research institute.

3. In international cooperation

In the period of Doi moi together with regional and international integration, the Southern Institute of Social Sciences has carried out a lot of research projects and programs in cooperation with international partners since 1986.  From 1997 up to now, the Institute has done 21 international cooperation projects, of which typical are: Poverty alleviation in the process of urbanization in Ho Chi Minh City in cooperation with the Social Science Research Council (USA) and funded by the Ford Foundation; Oc Eo Culture – New discoveries in cooperation with École francaise d’Extrême-Orient (France); Migration, Productivity and Living Status: Understanding of productivity strategies among low-income people in Vietnam in cooperation with the East-Anglia University (England), etc…

Research cooperation with international experts and organizations has contributed a considerable part towards improvement of scholarly qualifications and interdisciplinary methodology for researchers, particularly the junior ones at the Institute.

For 38 years of establishment and development (1975 – 2013) in general, the Southern Institute of Social Sciences has combined effectively basic with applied research, theoretical with practical research and policy analysis. It has also built systematically research programs, projects and missions, which shows the inter-disciplinary and multi-disciplinary features of the Institute. In addition, its postgraduate training activities in combination with research activities provided for Southern provinces (1986 - 2003) and for the Southeast and Southwest of Vietnam (2003 - 2013) as well as its international cooperation in social sciences have contributed an important part towards policy-making, socio-economic development planning, and high-quality human resource development, to meet sustainable development requirements of the whole region and of each specific province in the region as well.