Students to experience the changes in Myanmar

25 June 2015

Students will experience the politics, economy, history and culture of Myanmar.

A group of ANU students is about to experience first-hand the dynamics of a fast-changing Myanmar.

From taking in the ancient capital of Bagan to mixing it with powerful politicians in Naypyidaw, the 11 students will spend two-weeks in the Southeast Asian nation as part of the in-country course The Political Economy of Myanmar.

Hosted by the ANU College of Asia and the Pacific, it is the first time the University has sent students to Myanmar.

The course continues the University's long history of engagement and research on Myanmar, and builds on the Federal Government's commitment to overseas study opportunities for Australian students and people-to-people exchange through the New Colombo Plan.

Course participant, arts-law student Claudia Mooney, said Australians have a responsibility to go to these places to learn more about the culture and the desires and hopes of the people.

"I am quite interested in development especially the contested idea of sustainable development and I think Myanmar is an interesting example as we can watch development happening in real time," she said.

"What I am curious in seeing is whether lessons have been learned from what has gone wrong and whether development is sustainable or unfair."

Law and Asia-Pacific security student Tom Murphy is interested in Southeast Asian security.

"It is really interesting to see how the opening up of the country will affect trade and the overall security situation in the region," Mr Murphy said.

Course convenor Professor Andrew Walker said that with historic elections due later this year, there was no better time to visit Myanmar.

"Students will experience the politics, economy, history and culture of Myanmar through visits to government agencies, non-government organisations, universities, the national parliament, museums and important cultural sites," Professor Walker said.

"While in the capital Naypyidaw they will visit Myanmar's parliament as it prepares for the upcoming election.

"Our students will get to meet and learn from local university students and talk to them about their experiences of social and political transformation, democracy and development.

"The fact that we can take a group of students to Myanmar and meet freely with local students, academics and NGOs is a sign of the pace of Myanmar's reform over the past five years."

Myanmar has undergone profound change since the ruling-military government changed the constitution and conducted elections in 2010. That rapid development is set to culminate with another national election later this year.