Asia is of great importance. It is a continent with tremendous historical depth and cultural richness, a region comprising more than half of the global population and the second and third largest economies in the world. The extraordinary growth of Asian economies in the past two decades, in combination with a revolution in communications and information flows, rapid technology transfer, and the forces of globalization, has transformed national societies, redefined relations among nations and people, and established new links connecting the region with the rest of the world. These changes also have given rise to a new set of challenges and opportunities in the twenty-first century. Whether we are discussing economic development, peace and conflict, the activities of multi-national corporations, religious tolerance, the wellbeing of children, or the distribution of power within and among nations, Canadians today need knowledge of Asian cultures, polities, economies, and histories; fluency in Asian languages; and a proper understanding of the complex forces shaping local, intra-regional, and transnational societies in Asia.
The Asian Institute, housed at the Munk School of Global Affairs, is the intellectual core for over one hundred affiliated scholars in the humanities and social sciences at the University of Toronto who are conducting cutting-edge interdisciplinary research and teaching across the Asian continent. These include several of the world’s leading researchers on Asia, and numerous award-winning teachers and scholars. This fertile academic environment plays host to visiting speakers, public lectures, seminars, workshops, international conferences, and training programs for visiting governmental officials. Our scholars and students are on the leading edge of thinking on some of the most complex issues facing the world today.
The Asian Institute plays a distinctive role as a leading authority on social, cultural, and political trends arising in contemporary Asia and through its interconnectedness with the rest of the world. Our institute is accessible and open, while authoritative in its expertise.
Students are the lifeblood of the Asian Institute. The popular Contemporary Asian Studies (CAS) program draws the very best students from across the humanities and social sciences. The Asian Institute is a unique place where students are encouraged to be innovative. We want our students to explore their own interests and passions, anchored in the core academic puzzles of our time, but reflective of their desires to effect change through their writing, their art, their entrepreneurial pursuits, and their activism. Asian Institute alumni have gone on to become academics, social enterprise entrepreneurs, documentary filmmakers, and leaders of civil society. Our graduates leave the Asian Institute knowing that they have received a world-class education, and with the confidence, curiosity, and audacity to positively impact the world around them.
I am thrilled and honoured to serve as the Interim Director of the Asian Institute.
Interim Director, Asian Institute
Ralph and Roz Halbert Professor of Innovation
Professor and Canada Research Chair, Political Science
Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto