Tomorrow (after a morning meeting) I officially start my end of year leave. It couldn’t come any sooner. 2017 has been a demanding, exciting, and exhausting year. It has been a year of ‘firsts’. I commenced my first full-time academic position in January (at first by distance) at James Cook University, my wife and I had our first child in February, we moved interstate in March, and in November we bought our first home… and had to move house again.


This post represents an opportunity for me to reflect on some of the things that I achieved this year. In some ways it is the ultimate ‘boast post’, but it is also really important for me to see the fruits of my labour in one place. Working away on a week-to-week basis it so often feels like we aren’t getting anything done and it is sometimes nice to take a breath and look back at the year that was 2017.


Here is a list of some of my the achievements that I am most proud of.  As always, so much of this list  would not have been possible without the support and guidance of countless people – particularly my senior colleagues at JCU. So thank you very much to everyone that has contributed to my work in various ways.




  • Sims, Kearrin. (2017) ‘Casino Enclaves, Development and Poverty Alleviation in Laos’, Pacific Affairs,. Part of a Special Issue on Integrated Mega-Casinos and Speculative Urbanism in Southeast Asia. See:
  • Sims, Kearrin (2017), ‘More growth, less freedom: Charting international development pathways in Lao PDR’, in Brendan Howe (ed.), The Securitization of Governance in Asia’, Palgrave Macmillan, UK.. See:
  • Editing a Special Issue for Asia Pacific Viewpoint on ‘Rethinking Development Pedagogy’ and published the introductory paper (incomplete – ongoing).
  • Sims, K. (2017), Review of V. Boute and V. Pholsena (eds.) “Changing Lives in Laos: Society, Politics and Culture in a Post- Socialist State”, Contemporary Southeast Asia. See:
  • Sims, Kearrin. (2017), ‘Economic Growth and Development in Lao PDR: Who Pays for Progress?’, Human Rights Defender, University of New South Wales, (26)2.
  • Sims, Kearrin (2017), ‘New Visions for International Development Education’, RDI Website. See:



Grants and Research


  • $6200 JCU Start-Up Grant
  • $9000 JCU-Rustic Pathways End-User grant with additional in-kind contributions of $7,000 (total $16,000). I’m really excited about this opportunity, and look forward to working with Rustic in 2018!
  • Conducted 10 days field research in Laos examining the Kunming-Singapore high-speed rail project.


Teaching and Learning


  • Program Convenor (in November) of JCU’s Master of Development Practice.
  • Co-drafted (with invaluable support from senior colleagues) concept plan for new Master’s program in Development Studies.
  • Wrote and convened my first (postgraduate level) subject in development studies. Received student feedback results exceeding college and university averages across all metrics.
  • Coordinated my first subject across 2 campuses… and learnt how to live-feed video lecture in the process!




























Academic Service


  • Founding member of JCU’s new Tropical Urban Design Lab (Led by Lisa Law and Silvia Tavares). Presented at the October TUDLab launch. See:
  • Founding member of the Association of Mainland Southeast Asian Scholars (AMSEAS). Honoured to be elected as AMSEAS Treasurer. Co-drafted (with Sverre Molland) the AMSEAS Statement of Intent. Designed the AMSEAS Logo.
  • Drafted JCU application for affiliate membership of the Australian Council For International Development (ACFID). Serving as JCU’s primary ACFID contact.
  • Drafted JCU’s submission on the SDGs to the Australian Government’s first Voluntary National Review on the Agenda 2030.
  • Drafted TUDLab submission on SDG 11 – Sustainable Cities and Communities – to the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet
  • Honoured to receive a funded invitation to attend Mid-Term review of La Trobe University’s Master of International Development.
  • Participated in Mekong Land Research Forum Annual Workshop at the Regional Center for Social Sciences and Sustainable Development, Chiang Mai University.
  • Featured as ‘Researcher Profile’ in the RDI Network Newsletter.





  • Co-convened a research symposium on ‘rethinking development pedagogy’ with the Research for Development Impact Network and Associate Professor Lisa Law. Paper title: ‘Introduction – Rethinking Development Pedagogy and Practice’.
  • Delivered paper at the International Convention of Asian Scholars (ICAS) 10, 20-23 July, 2017, Chiang Mai International Exhibition and Convention Centre, Chiang Mai, Thailand. Paper title: ‘Development Cooperation with Chinese Characteristics: A view from Laos’.
  • Attendee at RDI Annual Conference
  • Attendee at Sydney Southeast Asia Centre (SEAC) Politics In Action: Updates from Southeast Asia
  • Submitted Panel and Paper proposal to ASAA 2018 conference.