The Center counts 1983 as its founding year, when it became part of Stanford’s International Strategic Institute, now the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies. It traces its origins, however, even earlier: to 1978, when a visionary group of Stanford scholars committed to strengthening U.S.-Asia ties decided to address the need for a hub of Asia research that bridges disciplines and looks at Asia in regional and global contexts. It was the dawn of what later proved to be a transformative era marked by the rise of Japan as an economic superpower and the early moments of China’s opening to the world.
The new organization’s work was imbued with the desire to promote cooperative relations with the countries of the Asia-Pacific region rather than the distrust of the Cold War. From the early stages of Asia’s transformation through the twilight of the Cold War era, research projects on themes such as Northeast Asia regional security and the development of the high-tech industry brought together leading scholars from Asia and Stanford to join with high-level U.S. and Asian policymakers for fruitful collaboration and dialogue.
Since then, the Center has grown from a small core of China and Japan scholars to a premier research institution with a team of faculty and experts specializing in contemporary issues facing Northeast, South, and Southeast Asia and in trends that cut across the entire Asia-Pacific region.
In 2005, the Center was renamed the Walter H. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center in recognition of its long-time benefactor and friend, Walter H. Shorenstein (1915-2010).
Daniel Okimoto, Co-Director, 1983–1997
John Lewis, Co-Director, 1983–1990
Lawrence Lau, Co-Director, 1992–1996
Henry Rowen, Director, 1997–2001; Co-director, 2000–2001
Andrew Walder, Co-Director, 2000–2001; Director, 2000–2005