Welcome to the Lee Kong Chian NUS-Stanford Initiative on Southeast Asia
Southeast Asia’s storied past extends more than two millennia. For most of this period, Southeast Asia societies have participated in transcontinental civilisational networks and have been noted for their ability to selectively appropriate and adapt the various external influences encountered. This has contributed towards Southeast Asia’s emergence as an intriguing cultural matrix that presently occupies over four and a half million square kilometres straddling the Eurasian landmass and the Malay Archipelago.
Today, Southeast Asia is home to more than half a billion people who manifest a substantial diversity of ethnicity, polity, language, religion and sub-culture. Southeast Asia also boasts a vibrant economy with a GDP exceeding US$1 billion in 2006 and steady annual growth, besides being the site of several thriving national economies.
A colourful and exciting socio-cultural tapestry, economic vibrancy and continued global geo-political relevance are among the factors that have helped establish Southeast Asia as a field of academic study. This field continues to attract considerable academic attention as seen in the more than 1300 specialists and 60 academic and research institutions across the globe devoted to this task.
Southeast Asian specialists presently explore a wide range of topics and themes using a variety of methods within an increasingly explicit inter-disciplinary framework in efforts to gain a holistic understanding of Southeast Asia, past and present. The Lee Kong Chian NUS-Stanford Initiative on Southeast Asia brings together two vibrant research centers that are proximate to the best of both local and global knowledge of Southeast Asia:National University of Singapore and Stanford University. Located in the heart of Southeast Asia, NUS has a formidable track record in Southeast Asian research. Located on the Pacific Rim with a long tradition of excellence on Northeast Asia, Stanford University Stanford has begun to develop its expertise on Southeast Asia as well. The support of infrastructures for research at both universities—the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at NUS and the Southeast Asia Forum (SEAF) in the Walter H. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center (Shorenstein APARC) at Stanford—promises that this synergistic collaboration will do much to raise the visibility, extent, and quality of scholarship on contemporary Southeast Asia.
The Lee Kong Chian NUS-Stanford Initiative on Southeast Asia achieves this synergy in several ways. The Programme revolves around the Lee Kong Chian Distinguished Visiting Fellowship. A successful candidate for the Fellowship will conduct a project of writing and research on or relevant to contemporary Southeast Asia for a period of up to a year, including residence at both NUS and Stanford. Exposure to these different locations, colleagues, and resources will enrich and diversify collegial feedback on the Fellow’s project and facilitate relevant networking on both sides of the Pacific. Conversely, by engaging Southeast Asian and American colleagues and audiences, Fellows will contribute to intellectual life and public discourse in their host institutions and societies. With Initiative support as appropriate, the Fellow may wish to entertain collaborative research, or considering submitting his or her findings and ideas to peer review at a seminar or workshop organized for that purpose. This Initiative may also be able to facilitate dissemination of project results electronically or in printed publication. Other activities at NUS or Stanford could include lecturing, interacting with students, and media interviews.
Although publishable scholarship is the core activity the Fellowship aims to support, the broader horizons and engagements of the Initiative and its synergy across two institutions are designed to benefit larger constituencies. Not least among these is the next generation of leaders in scholarship and policy on contemporary Southeast Asia, including students, junior faculty and academic staff, and other young professionals interested in careers related to this vital and dynamic region.