Emerging directly from its vision, goal and mission, ICES’ programme has prioritised seven strategic objectives for its work, drawing on the expertise garnered by the Centre over 30 years and its renewed commitment to continue in these areas. They can be divided into two main categories; generating knowledge and transferring knowledge. All seven strategic objectives have national, regional and international components.
1. Research: Challenging Paradigms
ICES undertakes research to provide critical analysis, question dominant paradigms and generate alternative perspectives. ICES’ research is generally rooted in subaltern, feminist and non-traditional approaches. It is rigorous, relevant and based on both theoretical and empirical field-based study, focusing on marginalised, vulnerable and minority groups and identities.
2. Policy Interventions: Catalysing Change
ICES champions and catalyses policy interventions that strengthen justice, human rights and equitable development at national, regional and international levels. Policy interventions emerge from ICES’ research, following rigorous inquiry and empirical findings. Policy interventions are typically undertaken in a quiet, constructive, non-confrontational style based on analysis. ICES’ preference is to provide viable alternatives based on thorough analysis – such as options for legal mechanisms or political institutions, draft legislation – rather than to advocate a single position.
3. Unrestricted Knowledge Acquisition and Dissemination
ICES promotes unrestricted transfer of knowledge grounded in a commitment to establishing ethical community partnerships. As most ICES research is carried out directly with communities and groups that are disadvantaged, marginalised or affected by direct or structural violence, ICES is committed to bringing the knowledge generated back to these communities, and transferring knowledge equitably and broadly to different sectors of the population through workshops and seminars. ICES invests in identifying, mentoring and training (an important component being the training in minority rights conducted across Asia and Africa) a new generation of critical, rigorous researchers and policy analysts for future leadership.
4. Space for Dialogue
Rooted in its vision of celebrating the limitless diversity of our common humanity, ICES offers a safe space to take risks and to explore the novel or the unknown. ICES’ wide-ranging seminars and lectures provide an open forum for dialogue and exchange of views, perspectives and opinions between diverse audiences. At ICES fora, scholars, parliamentarians, youth, journalists, activists, ambassadors and artists find even ground to debate their viewpoints.
5. Creative Expressions for Social Transformation:
Arts, Media and Culture
ICES has always viewed arts and culture as essential components of free and democratic societies. Both in times of peace and at times of war, arts, culture and media are vital in creating and nurturing a vibrant and engaged civil society through the promotion of truth, beauty, diversity and imagination. ICES has recognised the potential of the arts and creative expression to serve as instruments for social change. Throughout its 30 years, ICES has worked to promote arts and culture generally, as well as specifically in terms of promoting social transformation. This work has included the production of documentaries, the publication of literary works and the organisation of film festivals, art exhibitions, writing workshops, and dance and musical performances and workshops. As with its dialogue fora, ICES has provided a free and open space for bold and innovative artistic expression spanning all forms – dance, music, theatre, photography, visual arts, film and mass media – often in collaboration with partner organisations working in the arts.
6. Library and Resource Centre
ICES’ library is a dedicated and defiant expression of our commitment to the preservation of knowledge for human understanding. It is a national heritage and one of the most visited sites by scholars, policy-makers and travellers to Sri Lanka. With very modest financial support, it has been built up book by book by its indefatigable Head Librarian, Mr. Thambirajah, and the former Librarian of the Kandy office, Ms. Kanthi Gamage, and currently houses 14,000 volumes and invaluable archives at both the Colombo and Kandy offices. ICES remains deeply committed to protecting, expanding and digitalising this unique knowledge resource within Sri Lanka.
ICES publications represent the commitment of ICES to provide inexpensive literature of the highest standard written by cross sections of leading intellectuals at affordable prices. A primary mode of knowledge transfer is the extensive publications generated by ICES, and their translations into Sinhala and Tamil for broad dissemination across the country. ICES publishes a peer- reviewed academic journal, the International Journal of Ethnic and Social Studies (IJESS), twice a year. It publishes a literary journal Nethra which provides a forum for artistic, cultural and literary expression and exchange and features contributors from around the world. The ICES website is being strengthened with the aim to make ICES publications, spanning the spectrum from anthropology to poetry and law to politics, rapidly available to international readers through the internet.