Located at the Faculty of Liberal Arts,Ubon Ratchathani University the Mekong Sub-region Social Research Centre (MSSRC) was established in 2000 to support the Indochinese program for undergraduate students, the master degree program in Mekong regional studies and regional language courses including Chinese, Lao, Khmer and Vietnamese.
Situated at the centre of the Mekong River Basin in the northeastern region of Thailand the MSSRC facilitates and encourages research and learning about the Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS), especially by regional scholars. The centre is dedicated to forging links between academics, researchers and students from universities and organisations within the region and beyond. It also promotes sharing knowledge across the region through activities that bolster the dissemination of information, such as an online database, informative website, teaching, publications, workshops, brown bag discussion group and conferences.
Since its inception the MSSRC has been involved in several projects that have sought to achieve these aims. In 2001 the centre organised a conference on Indochina in Transition . In 2002 the MSSRC brought together Thai scholars whose work focused on the Greater Mekong Sub-region from various Thai universities and institutions at the Mekong Studies Regional Consortium . The event facilitated discussion about the establishment of an academic consortium that would lead to collaboration on certain activities such as the Mekong curriculum and study program development and scholar exchange programs .
In 2003 the MSSRC became involved with the Regional Mekong Curriculum Development Initiative (RMCDI), now known as the Mekong Learning Initiative (MLI) which aims to develop a regional and locally engaged approach to teaching about environment, natural resource management and rural social issues in order to foster a greater sense of Mekong citizenship' with regard to livelihood, development and environment questions in this shared river basin. The MLI is a collaboration between nine universities in five countries of the Mekong River Basin .
In September 2004 the MSSRC commenced a project entitled Strengthening of Knowledge and Information Sharing in the Greater Mekong Sub-region with support from the Rockefeller Foundation . The project involved the establishment of the Greater Mekong Sub-region Resource Centre (GMSRC), which saw the accumulation of multi-disciplinary resources in a variety of languages that focussed on the GMS. The GMSRC has now received a second instalment from the Rockefeller Foundation and continues to build its collection and database.
The knowledge and information sharing project also saw the succesful organisation of the international conference: Trans-border Issues in the Greater Mekong Sub-region which was held 30 June 2005 2 July 2005 in Ubon Ratchathani. This conference gathered scholars interested in the GMS from around the globe to deliberate around nine themes that cross borders in the region.
Currently, as part of the second phase of the knowledge and information sharing project, the MSSRC is carrying out research into The lives of stateless people and ethnic minorities along the Thai-Laos and Thai-Cambodian borders . This project focusses on the rapidly increasing numbers of stateless peoples in the Northeastern region of Thailand in an attempt to balance research into this area, which has previously focussed on the Northern borders, particularly Myanmar.
The centre is also enhancing the capacity of the GMSRC through the expansion of its collection and continued development of its database. Additionally the MSSRC opens its Masters program in Mekong Studies for the first time this year and with Rockefeller support has awarded two scholarships to students from Laos PDR. This program aims to provide academic training to regional scholars and further increase the study of the GMS from within the region.