La Trobe takes fresh approach to Asia

La Trobe University has signalled a new commitment to the region with the creation of La Trobe Asia.

Professor Nick Bisley (pictured) has been appointed Executive Director of La Trobe Asia. He said the La Trobe approach was deliberately different.

‘Unlike the traditionally research-focused approach of other institutes, we want to take a comprehensive whole-of-university approach to our engagement with Asia,’ Professor Bisley said.

‘La Trobe Asia will unite and strengthen work taking place in different parts of the University and encompass teaching, research and external engagement.

‘We want to encourage more students to spend a semester in the region, as well as forge closer research partnerships and encourage greater staff engagement. We will also systematically integrate the study of Asian languages, societies and cultures across our undergraduate curriculum and improve our contribution in public debate in and about Asia.

‘There is no doubt that major changes are underway in our region and this wide scope is vital if the higher education sector in Australia is to meet the challenges that will face us in the Asian Century.

‘La Trobe Asia will enable the University and the many academics and experts that work here to contribute in a significant way to Australia and the region.

‘The University’s investment, provided as part of the Future Ready strategy, will improve Australia’s understanding of and engagement with Asia, ’ Professor Bisley said.

La Trobe Asia runs a series of public events with a recent session previewing the upcoming Indian and Indonesia elections receiving coverage in the Indonesian press. Forthcoming sessions will look at social trust in Asia and North Korea.

As one of two universities in Australia and the only one in Victoria to teach the major Asian languages – Chinese, Japanese, Hindi and Indonesian – La Trobe is in prime position to engage with important issues and challenges facing the Asian region.

‘While language training is vital, Australia's relationship with Asia goes beyond these areas – it also operates at the level of education, culture, science, agriculture, business and industry,’ Professor Bisley said.

La Trobe Asia will draw together expertise on Asia from across the University, including from within the five Research Focus Areas articulated in La Trobe's Future Ready Strategic Plan.

‘In drawing together our research findings, academic expertise and relationships with Asia, La Trobe Asia will provide a single point of contact for external stakeholders such as business, the media and NGOs,’ Professor Bisley said.

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