On June 28 to July 1, 2016, Dr. Alice B. Acejas, Research Director of Asian Social Institute, attended the 12th International Conference of the International Society for Third Sector Research (ISTR). The conference was held at Ersta Sköndal University College located atop a hill overlooking Stockholm’s beautiful Riddarfjärden bay.
The venue was very congenial to the international community of third sector scholars who, every two years, come together to discuss their research on civil society, philanthropy, and the nonprofit sector in an ISTR international conference. The ISTR has regional networks for Asia Pacific, Latin America, Africa, and Europe that hold their respective regional network conferences also every two years.
The 12th international conference tackled major trends that currently affect the Third Sector. These include, among others, the contribution of civil society organisations to political democratisation; the rise of social media and its impact on collective action and traditional organisations; marketisation of social welfare services to private for-profit organisations and social enterprises; changing face of philanthropy; and increasing demands and expectations from nongovernmental organisations to pursue social innovation1. These trends were encapsulated in the conference theme, ‘The third sector in transition: Accountability, transparency, and social innovation’.
The conference brought together more than 500 scholars and practitioners from around the world to discuss these issues in order to inform Third Sector theory, policy, and practice. From her doctoral thesis on the Philippine social economy, Dr. Acejas presented two papers on the first day of the conference. The first paper discussed the experience of a fair trade social enterprise in the global fair trade market; while the second discussed the role of colonialism, religion, gambling, and resistance in shaping the Philippine Third Sector. She said that presentations were often accompanied by lively discussions done in a critical but collegial manner.
Since 2012, Dr. Acejas has been an active member of ISTR. Last year, she presented a paper on the Philippine social economy and its contributions to social development and democracy in the 9th ISTR Asia Pacific Regional Conference in Tokyo, Japan.
1 From the 12th ISTR Conference program.
Photo courtesy of Dr. Maria Faina L. Diola