This past July, I returned from my sabbatical. During my eight months away from the Stanford campus, I was based in Korea at the Graduate School of International Studies of Seoul National University and traveled through many other parts of Asia. It allowed me to take a step back and reflect—it was the longest time I had spent in Korea since leaving for the United States as a graduate student in 1983.
While I have visited Korea many times on business and other matters, living there for an extended period of time was quite a different experience. Korea is certainly a place with lots of excitement and convenience but also concerns and worries.
What struck me most during my conversations with many colleagues and friends in Asia was a realization that they were all grappling with how to address and find breakthrough solutions to current societal challenges. They referred to numerous, interrelated problems arising from low birth rate, aging population, brain drain, pollution, political corruption and low cultural tolerance, to mention a few examples. Based on those conversations and my overall experience living in Korea, I am now preparing a book manuscript Korea seen from Inside and Outside.
Next Monday, we begin the new academic year at Stanford. And with that occasion, I extend my sincere thanks to colleagues who stepped in during my leave last year, in particular, to Takeo Hoshi who served as acting director.
Reengaging with academic writing and my duties as director has been invigorating. I remain convinced that Shorenstein APARC continues to play an important role in developing new knowledge and encouraging dialogue on policy-relevant challenges in contemporary Asia.
The Center will soon be launching a new multiyear research project, the New Asia Project, which aims to offer insight on the question: “what’s next for Asia?” Our faculty, fellows and researchers will delve into social, cultural and educational areas that could push Asia ahead. We will have completed our Divided Memories and Reconciliation Project after a decade of scholarly work on historical narratives of World War II in Asia. The Center will continue to convene seminars, workshops and conferences that bring together scholars, policymakers and regional experts from around the world and strive to make the multimedia available to all online.
Three postdoctoral scholars and four emerging and mid-career professionals are joining us this year as fellows. They carry a broad range of research interests—from hospital reform in Vietnam to the economic consequences of elite politics in China. The Center remains committed to nurturing a new generation of scholars and professionals working on Asia-Pacific issues. We also welcome a diverse cohort of Corporate Affiliate Visiting Fellows, who will work on ambitious research endeavors under the mentorship of our faculty.
Through our partnerships with Brookings Institution Press and Stanford University Press, we continue to publish our work. We have published 9 books in the past year and expect 4 books in the coming months. They include Divergent Memories, Challenges in the Process of China’s Urbanization and a translation from Korean of Peace on a Knife’s Edge, among other publications in leading journals and presses around the world.
The Center has changed quite a bit since I first began my directorship in 2005. We now have five vibrant research programs, one initiative and one corporate affiliate program. They are integral parts of the Center but also have emerged as robust entities in their own right. This year we will be celebrating the 10th anniversary of our China Program and Asia Health Policy Program.
For readers in Asia, a number of our faculty and fellows will be coming to Seoul and Tokyo for a public seminar series following the U.S. presidential election this November. A special alumni gathering will also be hosted in Seoul (Nov. 15) and Tokyo (Nov. 17). There will also be a conference on world-class universities on Nov. 4-5 at Stanford Center at Peking University. Stay tuned for an official announcement.
As I resume my duties as Center director, I look forward to another engaging year.