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About the Asia Institute

The Asia Institute combines the activities of the East Asia Center, South Asia Center, and Tibet Center, and the Asian Pacific American Studies program, representing the distinctive qualities of the individual programs and geographic areas, while creating a strong and programmatic relationship among the programs to extend their impact across the University as well as externally. Inspired by Jefferson’s ideal of global knowledge and citizenship and bringing together students, scholars, experts from government industry, and the public, the Asia Institute positions U.Va among the nation’s leading universities in the field by fostering a long-term relationship with the Asian world.

The Asia Institute promotes the interdisciplinary study of Asia by facilitating the research and teaching of U.Va. faculty and the education of hundreds of students. It assists the University’s schools and units in their Asia-related interests and initiatives. The Institute enjoys a high profile, located on central grounds in Minor Hall, a building which is also home to the International Studies Office, Study Abroad, and the Carter G. Woodson Institute for African-American and African Studies. The Institute develops strategies to provide students, particularly undergraduates, with clearly defined curricular goals, leading to Asia-related careers in the public and private sectors. The Institute emphasizes the connection among research, teaching, policy making and the world of work. The staff assists in the development of U.Va.-sponsored study abroad programs in Asia, and provides advising to students interested in an Asia-related career.

The ascendancy of Asia and its influence on the economy, the environment, and politics and culture is unmistakable and unlikely to abate. The interconnectedness of the world and the continued blurring of traditional academic disciplines demand that leading universities enable collaborative and cross-cutting scholarship and undergraduate learning experiences infused with global context, appreciation, and understanding. The confluence of Asia’s rising influence in the world and the strong base of faculty and program strength in Asian studies at U.Va. indicates this is an opportune time to build a research, outreach, and instructional framework which more fully engages and comprehends Asia.

The University of Virginia has built faculty and programmatic strength in Asian studies over several decades, grounded in the languages, humanities (particularly religion and culture), and social sciences, especially focusing on Japan, Korea, China, India, Pakistan and Bangladesh; and more recently in the professional schools, where faculty increasingly are doing research and using case studies focusing on East and South Asia. A prominent part of the Institute is the Tibet Center, internationally recognized for its interdisciplinary academic program, digital innovation and community service. The East Asian and South Asian programs, through separately administered centers, provide lecture series, outreach to the community, film collections, support for workshops and conferences, grant writing and research plus travel support for faculty and students. As the University has internationalized in recent decades, interest in and expertise on Asia has spread beyond these centers through to the schools and related departments and programs. Currently, the University has 43 faculty with a research or teaching connection to East Asian studies and 51 related to South Asia. The Asia Institute builds on considerable recent investment by the College in expanding the curriculum and faculty in Asia-related areas, including five new faculty hires in 2009 alone.

An unprecedented infusion of renowned Asia experts into the top levels of university administration positions the University to envision and realize a new prominence in relation to Asia. Gowher Rizvi, appointed as Vice Provost of International Programs, is an expert in the development economics of South Asia. The Dean of the College and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences, Meredith Jung-En Woo, is an expert and commentator on international political economy and U.S.-East Asia relations. Harry Harding, one of the world’s foremost China scholars and a frequent advisor to the Federal government, has joined the University as the founding Dean of the Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy.

The agenda of the Asia Institute is organized around specific themes and issues, encouraging involvement of faculty and students from a broad array of disciplines, backgrounds, and interests. The Institute fosters research and sponsors workshops and conferences in such areas as Asian religions, cultural history, as well as Asia’s role in the global economy, security, nuclear proliferation, conflict resolution, technological innovation and manufacturing. This issues-based orientation also promotes the integration of specialized study and discipline-specific paradigms, cultural and historical foundations, language acquisition, and policy-oriented and practical applications, such as case studies and internships. A full-time outreach coordinator organizes and facilitates programs targeting on-Grounds and external constituencies.

The Advisory Committee of the Institute consults the faculty and administrative directors on matters of planning and fundraising. Members of the committee are drawn from University alumni residing in Asia, internationally recognized Asia experts, and University faculty with interests in Asia.