Active Civil Society

ISTR Asia-Pacific Regional Conference

8-10 December 2021

Active Civil Society: Post-crises Rebuilding, Mobilising and Innovating 

Special Programming for PhD Students on 7 December 2021
Sabah, Malaysia

2020 has been marked by dramatic dislocations and disruptions including the Covid-19 pandemic and political changes across the region and globally. These crises have had variable effects on third sector organisations and civil society in particular, with reports of constrained resources, outmoded communication/collaboration technologies and passive responses. Yet, civil society survives and thrives as it actively develops community crises responses, forms networks of mutual aid, mobilises action and innovates to achieve new outcomes.

Crises, such as the Covid-19 pandemic, are felt unequally across generations, socio-economic structures and in different regions. Civil society is instrumental in mitigating the worst effects of these impacts, to advocate for democratic solutions, mobilise and connect communities and highlight and work against discriminations. Again, post-crisis reflection enables learning about how best to rebuild, mobilise and innovate.

Research is important in learning, publicising and developing innovations, yet the crisis has disrupted the lives of researchers who are family members, teachers, and civil society members as well. Access to empirical data has been restricted in some instances and required innovations and perseverance. Papers that present innovations in method, theory and practice are welcomed, as noted below.


Researchers are invited to submit papers, panels, posters, and roundtables under the following streams:

  1. Civil Society’s Active Response/s to Crises
  2. Civil Society and Democratisation
  3. Developing Southern Theory for Third Sector Studies
  4. Digitization/technology, Open Government and Civil Society
  5. Emerging Methodologies, Theory and Practice
  6. Organization and Leadership
  7. Philanthropy
  8. Partnerships and Collaborations, including Corporate Social Responsibility
  9. Regulation and Change
  10. Social Enterprise
  11. Sustainable Development Goals: Working Towards Their Achievement
  12. Third Sector Innovation in Welfare, Education and Health
  13. Sustainability and Environmental Issues in Civil Society 


To be considered for review, an abstract of not more than 500 words (not including references) must include:

  • A statement of the empirical or theoretical concern.
  • A short summary locating the concern within a wider literature.
  • A concise account of the empirical or theoretical methodological approach.
  • The main arguments of the paper and an indication of the supporting evidence.
  • A statement of the main conclusions and their relevance to an international audience

Abstracts not meeting these requirements will be declined by the ISTR Conference Committee.

Sample abstracts are available for review here and on our conference web page.

All abstracts should be prepared and written in English. Conference Papers and Panels will be organised in parallel sessions. Submissions by practitioners, emerging scholars, and Masters and doctoral students engaged in research are very welcome. If your submission is accepted and you wish to present your research at the conference, you must be a paying member of ISTR and must formally register for the conference.

To submit your paper, panel, poster, or roundtable abstract using our online portal provided by Oxford Abstracts, please visit
You will need to create an account before submitting an abstract. 


  • Deadline for Abstract submissions: August 1, 2021
  • Notification of acceptance/rejection to authors: September 15, 2021
  • Deadline for presenter conference registration: October 15, 2021
  • Deadline for final submission of papers: November 26, 2021
  • Special programming for PhD Students: December 7, 2021
  • Conference: December 8-10, 2021
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