Centres & Programs


  • Centre for South Asian Studies

    Established in 1981, the University of Toronto’s Centre for South Asian Studies (CSAS) fosters academic research, teaching and public discussion on South Asia in an effort to address global questions. Now a constitutive unit of the Asian Institute at the Munk School for Global Affairs, the Centre is supported by the Faculty of Arts & Science with core faculty across the University of Toronto’s three campuses. It is a key international hub for critical conversations across the humanities and social sciences on South Asian worlds, both inside and outside the subcontinent.

    CSAS conversations also address incarnations of “South Asia” and its regions as objects of knowledge, from mythic to governmental to geopolitical. The Centre’s programming thus reflects an interface of approaches that has distinguished research on South Asia in recent years, incorporating deep specialist and empirical knowledge, transnational methods, gendered readings and cutting-edge theoretical investigation. Delving into local contexts, CSAS programming addresses questions as wide-ranging as the workings of postcolonial democracy, law, and activism; histories and contemporary configurations of the sacred and secular; political economy and cultures of capitalism; media, technology, and the public sphere; the material and imaginative terrains of literary and visual cultures; and the present life of ancient civilizations.

  • Centre for Southeast Asian Studies

    The University of Toronto houses one of the strongest concentrations of scholars in North America working on Southeast Asia in the social sciences and the humanities. The Centre for Southeast Asian Studies is comprised of scholars working and teaching on Southeast Asia at the University of Toronto. The Centre’s mandate is to provide a forum to discuss, initiate, plan, and coordinate research, teaching, and other activities relating to Southeast Asia. As a constituent unit of the Asian Institute, the Centre seeks to complement the broader coordinating role of Asian Studies at the University of Toronto by providing a more focused attention to teaching, research, and other activities relating to Southeast Asian studies.

  • Centre for the Study of Korea

    The Centre for the Study of Korea was established in autumn 2006 with the goal of promoting critical approaches to the research of Korea. As the central hub for Korean studies at the University of Toronto, the Centre aims to foster the exchange of interdisciplinary knowledge about Korea both within the University and the general public. With faculty in Anthropology, East Asian Studies, Linguistics, Geography, Political Science, Sociology, Women’s Studies, and the Faculty of Music, the Centre promotes a diverse range of perspectives and approaches.

    While the Centre does not The Centre does not itself offer any teaching programs,  The Centre has a evolving line-up of speakers from North America, Asia and Europe featured in lectures and events throughout the academic year. Their activities also include public symposia, thematic workshops, student-initiated conferences, community events, film screenings, and a Korean language speech and quiz contest. Participation in public events is open to members of the university community as well as communities throughout the Greater Toronto Area.


  • Dr. David Chu Program in Asia-Pacific Studies

    The extraordinary growth of economies in the Asia Pacific region in the past two decades, in combination with a revolution in communications and the shattering 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. Whether we are discussing economic development, peace and conflict, the activities of multi-national corporations, religious tolerance, the well being of children or simply the distribution of power within nations, Canadians need comparative knowledge of cultures in the Asia Pacific and the capacity to use the languages of countries about which questions are posed.

    The Dr. David Chu Program is a place where the study and learning of this important region of the world takes place. The goal of the Program is to work cooperatively, both inside and outside the University, to gain new perspectives in the study of the Asia Pacific. The Program has direct ties with the Department of East Asian Studies. Our major activities include undergraduate teaching, scholarships, the distinguished leaders program, visiting scholars and research projects, and a community network involving speakers, seminars, and workshops.

  • Global Taiwan Studies Program

    The Global Taiwan Studies Program (GTS) at the University of Toronto brings Taiwan into comparative discussions and global conversations. Rather than thinking, studying and seeing Taiwan in isolation, the GTS at the Asian Institute aims to situate a dynamic Taiwan into a rapidly changing global context. The program is uniquely multi- and inter-disciplinary, bridging conversations from engineering to policy, from politics to cinema. The centrepiece of the GTS for 2016-2017 is the launch of the graduate seminar at the Munk School – Small States in Global Affairs: Seeing Taiwan. The course, which is offered to graduate students in the Munk School, the Asian Institute, the School of Public Policy and Governance, the Departments of Political Science and Sociology, features leading scholars interested in both Taiwan and global affairs more generally. Students and faculty will engage in debates about democracy, inequality, environmental governance, cyber-security, gender and migration, among many others. Ensuring the GTS stays focused on the student experience, the program has also drawn together several funding co-sponsorships to provide superlative researchers and entrepreneurial students the opportunity to carry out applied research in Taiwan. Indeed, the Global Taiwan Studies Program is not limited to learning in the classroom, but encourages “learning by doing.” Over the next few years, the advisory committee to the GTS will curate a first-rate seminar series and other forms of public engagement, including lectures, panels and roundtables, and cinematic forums.

    The core of Global Taiwan Studies is to promote the cutting-edge study of Taiwan by putting Taiwan into the centre of  fluid, dynamic global conversations.

  • Richard Charles Lee Asian Pathways Research Lab

    The Richard Charles Lee Asian Pathways Research Lab (APRL) is an initiative of the Asian Institute at the Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy, University of Toronto. The Lab’s mission is to produce innovative theoretical and methodological frameworks to understand human migrations and mobilities with a focus on Asian life histories and experiences. The APRL cultivates engaged qualitative research, student training, and public dialogue on migrations from Asia to Canada in the context of cross-cutting global themes. These themes include: Asian modernities, broadly conceived within East Asia, South Asia, and Southeast Asia, capitalisms, diaspora and transnationalism, and urban life in global contexts. Each year the APRL offers essential training for undergraduate students to use qualitative methods to study the process of migration from, within and between Asian and Canada, with a particularly focus on life-histories of Asian Canadians in the Greater Toronto Area.

  • Urban Climate Resilience in Southeast Asia Partnership

    The Urban Climate Resilience in Southeast Asia Partnership (UCRSEA) is a multi-disciplinary partnership between academics in Canada and partners in Cambodia, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam, countries which are experiencing both rapid urbanization and the severe effects of climate change. It combines the science of interpreting climate change’s uncertainties, risks, and impacts with social science analysis from geography, anthropology, and planning.

    The Partnership addresses vulnerabilities to climate change in urbanizing areas of Southeast Asia aimed at enhancing resilience and, hence, economic and social well-being. Individual and community vulnerabilities in the region are linked to global environmental change and to the rapid pace of urbanization and economic integration of the region.  Specifically, we seek to provide vulnerable peoples in transitional states with the space to learn about and share in decisions about protecting themselves from the economic, social, and physical impacts of climate change.

    The Partnership is supported by a five-year (2014-2019) International Partnerships for Sustainable Societies (IPaSS) grant, funded by both the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC).


  • Collaborative Master’s and Doctoral Specialization in South Asian Studies

    The Collaborative Master’s and Doctoral Specialization in South Asian Studies offers entry into a graduate student community, as well as a basic methodological grounding for students already accepted into a graduate program in one of the collaborating departments (listed on the program website). The program is designed to give students an interdisciplinary overview for the critical study of South Asia as a field of expertise and as a lens through which to read a wide range of global processes. Engagement with these questions through the collaborative program will be noted on the transcripts of participating students.

    All students who wish to participate in the collaborative program, at the Master’s or PhD level, are required to take the core course, SAS2004H, Critical Issues in South Asian Studies: A Region and the Disciplines. This course aims to familiarize students with aspects of the construction and critique of area studies, the history of disciplinary engagement with the region, and major contemporary debates in the field.

    Students in the program are also required to be active participants in the Centre for South Asian Studies lecture and seminar series. The wide range of events organized by the Centre and the Asian Institute offers a significant opportunity for students to think critically about the role of area studies in providing new perspectives on problems of universal significance, as well as to meet regularly and build a community. For further information about the program requirements and collaborating departments, please visit the Centre for South Asian Studies website.

  • Collaborative Master’s Specialization in Contemporary East and Southeast Asian Studies

    The Asia-Pacific region has emerged in the past half century as a major force in global economics and politics. The interdisciplinary Master’s Program in Contemporary East and Southeast Studies (formerly Asia-Pacific Studies, or MAPS) is designed for students wishing to pursue professional careers that will require them to understand this vibrant and sometimes tumultuous part of the world, whether their chosen fields are in academia, business, government, international or non-governmental organizations. Located at Canada’s premier research university, the program limits the number of students to 20 in order to facilitate learning and intellectual exchange in a small group setting.

    The program provides graduates with advanced training in traditional disciplines and also interdisciplinary expertise in historical and social science studies of modern East and Southeast Asia. It also provides a strong background for a doctoral-level academic focus on East and Southeast Asia. The major topical areas of study include economic development, political economy, modern and contemporary social history, international relations, globalization, gender and the family, political and sociocultural change, and cultural studies.

    Please note that this is not a standalone graduate program. Students wishing to be admitted to the collaborative program must apply online to one of the home departments. For more information about the application process, including a list of participating home department units, please visit the program website.

  • Dr. David Chu Program in Contemporary Asian Studies

    The Dr. David Chu Program in Contemporary Asian Studies (CAS) prepares undergraduate major and minor students to comprehend Asia’s roles in new global dynamics. Several of the world’s largest and fastest-growing economies are in Asia, yet the outcomes of modernization across the region have been varied, as seen through differing approaches to government, wealth distribution, ethnic diversity, gender dynamics, human rights, religion, and migration. Our students consider all of these factors in present-day South, Southeast, and East Asia, in the context of the diverse histories that inform these societies. The CAS program provides undergraduate students with the knowledge and analytical tools to grasp processes of change in Asian societies and draw meaningful linkages between them. The CAS program provides a lens through which to examine the links between Asia’s history, its increasing influence in world affairs, and the challenges and opportunities arising in this time of rapid transformation. Both the major and minor programs train students in pan-Asian and thematically-driven multidisciplinary approaches to the study of the region, including anthropology, economics, geography, history, political science, and sociology. For more information on the program and its requirements, please visit the Contemporary Asian Studies website.

  • South Asian Studies Minor

    The Minor in South Asian Studies, offered by the Centre for South Asian Studies at the Asian Institute, Munk School of Global Affairs, allows students to study South Asia in an approach attentive to global formations. With access to the faculty and resources of the Contemporary Asian Studies program, students are introduced to the study of South Asia—Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Nepal, and Sri Lanka—through a wide angle view of Asian modernities, political economies, and cultures, all the while delving into to specialist close-ups of South Asia. The program poses crucial questions for understanding global processes and diverse worlds—the tribal forest land, the bazaar, sacred sites, and the urban slum, among many others—preparing students for globally-minded careers and advanced social science and humanities research.

    With a curriculum motivated by the moving present—the changing face of South Asia today—the minor offers rigorous training in major debates and questions in the rich field of South Asian Studies, and provides a basic foundation for many directions of future study. From historical contexts of ethnic conflict, to postcolonial readings of ancient traditions, to the politics of religious and ethnic identities, to the workings of vast-scale democracy and capitalism, to the worlds of cinema and public culture, students are exposed to the dynamic landscapes—political, material, and mythic—that constitute present-day South Asia. Through open access to comparative courses in the Contemporary Asian Studies program, students can learn from tenured and tenure-track faculty specialists in South, East, and Southeast Asia. For more information about the program and its requirements, please visit the Centre for South Asian Studies website.


  • Richard Charles Lee Canada Hong Kong Library

    The Richard Charles Lee Canada-Hong Kong Library has been named in honour of Richard Charles Lee, one of the foremost Hong Kong businessmen and philanthropists of his day. The facility features a unique research collection on Canada-Hong Kong studies, quiet study space, and seminar areas. It provides resources and space to accommodate the continuous growth of research interest in Hong Kong, and its relation to Canada and other regions in the world.

Student Organizations

  • Contemporary Asian Studies Student Union (CASSU)

    The Contemporary Asian Studies Student Union is the undergraduate course union for the Dr. David Chu Program in Contemporary Asian Studies at the University of Toronto. CASSU was founded in 2010 and strives to strengthen students’ understanding towards contemporary Asia from a global perspective in a non-classroom setting. Through organizing social, cultural, academic and professional events related to Asia, the group sets to enhance students’ interests for the region.

    CASSU represents all undergraduate students affiliated or registered with the Contemporary Asian Studies program. By organizing academic and social events, CASSU’s mandate is to create interest among undergraduate students and those within the Contemporary Asian Studies major and minor programs towards the region of contemporary Asia. CASSU will generate intellectual conversations as well as offer information about the Contemporary Asian Studies program, awards available within Asian Institute, study abroad in Asia, and Asia related career opportunities to its student audience.

  • Interrogating Notions of Development and Progress (InDepth)

    “Interrogating Notions of Development and Progress” is an annual student-run conference hosted by the Asian Institute at the University of Toronto. Our goal is to enable students from leading Canadian and international universities to work together to better understand economic and social development in regional contexts.

    A typical INDePth Conference features workshops, panel discussions, a Great Debate, and unique “unconference” sessions that each complement one another to maximize the experience. By the end, students are empowered to pursue development projects at both the local and international levels. Moreover, they are able to build a network of like-minded colleagues to help them achieve their goals.

  • Re:locations: Journal of the Asia-Pacific World

    Founded in 2014 by a group of undergraduate and graduate students at the University of Toronto, Re:locations is a student-run journal and academic forum that seeks to bridge disciplinary and geographical divides. In order to foster dialogue among a wide range of scholars interested in Asia and the Pacific, we invite quality submissions from both graduate and undergraduate students in any discipline who are conducting research related to the Asia-Pacific world.

    In acknowledgement of shared histories of migration, cultural exchange, and trade—and a simultaneous recognition of the exciting but underdeveloped potential of comparative research– Re:locations disrupts traditional delineations of Asia to highlight a broadly Pacific-centric perspective. Geographically, the journal spans East, Southeast, and South Asia, Australasia, Polynesia and Oceania, the Americas, and other places that are connected to the Pacific world.

  • Synergy: The Journal of Contemporary Asian Studies

    Synergy: The Journal of Contemporary Asian Studies is an undergraduate academic journal with a regional focus on East, Southeast, and South Asia founded at the Asian Institute at the University of Toronto. Synergy Journal is envisioned as a platform for the celebration of Asia in both its collectivist historical past and its current geopolitical cooperation within the region. The goal of the journal is to stimulate and generate vibrant academic discussions on the current political, societal, and/or economic developments in the Asia region. The journal regularly publishes academic submissions in terms of Academic Articles, Book Reviews, and Original Photography, editorial written contents such as op-eds, current event reports, and academic event coverage of on-campus University of Toronto events, as well as organizing academic and professional events throughout the year that centre on Asia’s rising prominence and economic growth in the recent decade. Synergy Journal publishes online content throughout the year and selectively compiles articles into a print publication at the end of each academic year.

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