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Award for DBS research that advances Sustainable Development Goals

Dr Ameeta Jain’s research reveals the challenges behind Timor-Leste’s adoption of the United Nation’s (UN) blueprint for sustainable development.

Research by DBS senior lecturer Dr Ameeta Jain has been recognised for its role in advancing the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Dr Jain recently won the GrantEd Group’s  Research Impact Showcase Competition  for her research into the challenges hindering Timor-Leste’s 2016 adoption of the SDGs’ agenda.

Formerly known as East Timor, Timor-Leste is one of Australia’s nearest neighbours and although surrounded by oil and gas fields, it is one of the world’s poorest nations.

The UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is a blueprint of 17 goals aimed to end poverty and improve global health, education and environment but for Timor-Leste progress has been slow.

To more fully examine these challenges, Dr Jain – with the assistance of Timorese-speaking research assistants – conducted interviews with multiple-organisation stakeholders across the nation.

‘Our research revealed that challenges to SDGs’ adoption included lack of effective education programs, limited health spending, poor information systems, weak human capital and huge infrastructure problems,’ she explains.

Dr Jain’s research went on to be cited in last year’s Voluntary National Review which is the Timor-Leste’s government’s SDG progress report to the UN.

‘The findings are now being used by the sustainable development groups in Timor-Leste for a more inclusive development strategy,’ says Dr Jain.

Working in DBS’s Department of Finance, Dr Jain’s primary research interest lies in corporate social responsibility (CSR), with a particular focus on how this area is impacted by the UN’s SDGs.

‘Society is holding businesses responsible for their environmental, social and cultural impact. Businesses are no longer about just monetary profit but also about contributing to the welfare of the society they operate in. The SDGs have provided many new exciting opportunities for research,’ she says.

As the recipient of a Deakin 2019 award for teaching excellence, Dr Jain is passionate about teaching and research that holds global relevance.

‘As educators we need to keep up with both student and research expectations … SDGs are a new area for academic analysis and a non-traditional area of research. My challenge is to make my research relevant to society as well to meet Deakin’s research goals.’

Over the past decade, she says there have been many changes in the ‘teaching and research space’ which include ensuring an equally-rich education experience for both on-campus and online students.

‘With advancements in technology there is need to keep students abreast with new modes of assessment. To this end, I have introduced blogging in one of the units that I teach which has received very positive feedback from students.

‘It can also be more difficult to publish in acceptable journals and meet other goalposts such as securing internal as well as external research grants, building and maintaining industry and regulatory networks, and ensuring that your research has an appropriate impact on society.’

Alongside her teaching responsibilities, Dr Jain is currently working as principal investigator on a new research project that evaluates the contribution of local governments towards SDGs.

‘I am also very excited about collaborative work I am doing with some of my colleagues which is about incorporating social responsibility into the curriculum and research.’