This month, The Highland Institute, an independent research institute nestled in the beautiful city of Kohima, celebrates its remarkable ten-year anniversary. Since its founding on June 10, 2013, by Dr. Michael Heneise and Dr. Kekhrie Yhome, the Institute has flourished into a leading center for research on a diverse range of topics, including cultural heritage, historical narratives, environmental concerns, health issues, socio-political dynamics, and developmental challenges in highland Asia.
Operating as a registered Trust, The Highland Institute has been a driving force in generating valuable insights and promoting informed discussions on critical issues affecting communities in the region. Its previous projects have left an indelible mark, such as the meticulous exploration of the important Karbi epic, “Kecharhe Alun.” In another groundbreaking initiative, the Institute delved into the realm of surgical care in four states, shedding light on the challenges and opportunities for improved healthcare. Additionally, the Institute documented the complexities faced by the youth in post-conflict situations, analyzed nutrition determinants and strategies in North-East India, and recently hosted the captivating exhibition “Ancestral Voices,” which showcased Nagaland’s evolving soundscapes.
The current projects undertaken by The Highland Institute continue to push boundaries and expand knowledge. Two multi-year studies focus on indigenous environmental knowledge and climate change, with a profound commitment to preserving and understanding the fragile ecosystems of highland Asia. Another ongoing endeavor is a comprehensive review of the tourist facilities in Kohima, aiming to enhance the city’s appeal as a cultural and heritage destination. Furthermore, the Institute is actively involved in Ekologos, a global environmental humanities initiative spearheaded by UiT the Arctic University of Norway, strengthening its international collaborations and contributing to a collective effort to address pressing environmental challenges.
While rooted in Nagaland, The Highland Institute extends its reach globally through a robust network of collaborating scholars and academic institutions. These research partnerships have fostered fruitful collaborations with prestigious organizations such as Oxford Policy Management, leading UK universities including Leeds, Edinburgh, and Cambridge, RV University Bangalore, the Centre for Karbi Studies, Doctors for You, the International Development Research Centre of Canada, the Danish Institute for International Studies, and the Nagaland Government. Additionally, the Institute boasts a vibrant community of associated research Fellows hailing from distinguished universities worldwide, who bring their expertise and enrich the Institute’s research endeavors.
Reflecting on the Institute’s first decade, co-founder Dr. Michael Heneise emphasized the significance of research collaboration in an era when it is a rare commodity. He highlighted the transformative potential of good data, unbiased analysis, radical uncertainty, openness, and a commitment to independence in shaping the future of Asia. While celebrating the milestone of ten years, Dr. Heneise emphasized the need for self-examination and strategic planning to ensure the longevity of the Institute’s philosophy. He cautioned against succumbing to profit-driven temptations or the growing anti-intellectualism prevalent in higher education today, emphasizing that vigilance and introspection are critical to preserve the Institute’s core values.
Dr. Vizovol Mekro, a valued member of the Institute’s Board and former Principal of Phek Government College, has witnessed the Institute’s growth throughout its formative years. On the momentous occasion of its 10th anniversary, he commended the courage, experience, and exceptional leadership demonstrated by Dr. Michael Heneise and Dr. Kekhrie Yhome. In a region where research facilities are minimal, he praised their unwavering dedication and hard work, which have propelled the Institute’s remarkable progress. Notably, Dr. Michael Heneise, who served as the Director until recently, played a pivotal role in nurturing the Institute’s growth.
Acting Director Catriona Child emphasized the Institute’s significant role within the local community. The Highland Institute serves as a compelling example of effective collaboration between the global and the local. The Institute’s active internship program, supported by its international Fellows, plays a vital role in training local scholars to become world-class researchers.
Moreover, the Institute actively engages with schools in Kohima through initiatives like the ethnographic film club and themed activity days, fostering a spirit of curiosity and learning among the younger generation.
As The Highland Institute embarks on its second decade, it stands as a beacon of intellectual excellence, unwavering dedication, and steadfast commitment to research and knowledge dissemination. The Institute’s innovative projects, international collaborations, and community engagement highlight its invaluable contributions to highland Asia. With its visionary leadership and a global network of scholars, The Highland Institute is poised to navigate the challenges of the future and continue its trajectory of growth, making a lasting impact on the region and beyond.