This century is Asia’s century. As global attention continues to shift eastward, Asia’s political, economic, and cultural resources are the subject of increasing curiosity. The global conversation has begun about Asia. The Asian Institute is shaping this conversation in our research, teaching, and dialogue with the community more generally. But we are also doing something else – colleagues and students associated with the Asian Institute are illuminating and articulating Asian conversations about the global. In our work and our teaching, we are excavating and interrogating the ongoing debates about Asia’s so-called rise, its histories, its multiple modernities, and its speculative futures. With nearly 140 academic events presented each year and over 150 undergraduate students enrolled in our academic programs, the Asian Institute is a lively intellectual space.
The key imperative that organizes the Asian Institute is multi-disciplinary inquiry. Home to over 100 affiliated faculty members, the Institute encourages collaborative research and teaching across the social sciences and humanities. Critical voices from the humanities and applied social scientific knowledge equally drive our research agendas and academic programs. We also encourage thematic research, rather than country-specific modes of inquiry. Our hope is to generate new conversations between country specialists and cases, to ensure, for instance, that our leading thinkers on contemporary Japan can have something generative to say to our colleagues working in Indonesia, or that political economists of China can have meaningful conversations with literature scholars of South Asia. Indeed, the work being done at the Asian Institute is truly cutting-edge.
I am so proud, as well, of the Asian Institute’s commitment to innovative pedagogy and experiential learning for our students. We are committed to ensuring that as many students as possible have a learning experience in Asia – after all, how else can we animate conversations in Asia about the global? We take great pride in the fact that our students are visionaries and leaders in the Faculty of Arts and Science’s International Course Module program; voracious field researchers and documentary filmmakers in Asia; future business, government, and activist leaders in the region; and global citizens for whom Asia is an integral part of their conception of the global.
The Asian Institute at the Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto, is an extraordinary public good. I am thrilled to be associated with it. And I am hopeful that you will engage with us in your ongoing conversations in and about Asia.