The Asia Institute is the first truly pan-Asian think tank. A research institution that addresses global issues with a focus on Asia, the Asia Institute is committed to presenting a balanced perspective that takes into account the concerns of the entire region. The Asia Institute provides an objective space wherein a significant discussion on current trends in technology, international relations, the economy and the environment can be carried out.
In terms of trade, technology and finance, Asia is integrating at a remarkably quick pace these days. Although Asia is the intellectual, technological and financial hub of the world, the gap between the integration of Asia in terms of logistics, energy and finance and its slow emergence as a cultural and intellectual continuum is striking. The amount of in-depth discussion between the citizens of Asia bound together by these changes remains insufficient. There is a desperate need for analysis and debate about trends in Asia that goes beyond national borders and includes all stakeholders. The Asia Institute has chosen to focus on the impact of technology on society, the environment, the concerns of youth and women and the implications for international relations of developments in education, communications and business. All these questions are critical for the future of Asia and deserve thoughtful analysis and discussion.
The Asia Institute represents the concerns of all of Asia, offering a neutral space wherein committed leaders from business, government, and academia can discuss issues in good faith and can combine their wisdom and their resources to find solutions.
The Asia Institute is committed to meaningful cooperation across the whole of Asia, looking for new opportunities for cooperation and discussion between China, Japan and Korea, and between the nations of South Asia, the Middle East, Central Asia, Southeast Asia, and the rest of the world. We strive to present a new vision of an integrated and peaceful Asia that is ecologically sustainable and is not powered by a relentless drive for profit.
The Asia Institute promotes cooperation to respond to the challenges of our time, bringing together individuals to work as a team that can think up, and implement, that go beyond national national borders. The individuals engaged at the Asia Institute are dedicated to creating a new discursive space in which to identify common themes and to bring together shareholders from across the region.
The Asia Institute promotes innovative approaches to promote cooperation across of Asia taht will address today’s pressing issues. We call for engagement with stakeholders at all levels. Although many think tanks consider the Asian region, none are truly international in their perspective. Today, the unprecedented economic and technological integration of Asia, and of the world, calls for a truly international institution. The Asia Institute has grown over the last five years to meet that need.
The Asia Institute also is distinctive in its commitment to involving youth in its programs, giving them a chance to convey their concerns directly to policymakers and experts, and to engage in a meaningful debate. So often in this age, the expert has much to learn from the experiences of youth. We are building bridges across Asia for cooperation between youth and professionals that will empower the next generation. We sense a critical need to engage youth in the policy debate and make sure that the discussions of experts are meaningful to ordinary citizens.
Moreover, many of the problems we face today, from the environmental crisis to the growing gap between the rich and poor, can only be addressed by addressing the origins within ourselves. Only when we have addressed the spiritual hunger and psychological insecurities that lead to unrestrained consumption, or ruthless conflict, can we begin to address the issues of this age. As Albert Einstein once remarked, “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” Our research and our activities take into account the underlying insecurities and contradictions within ourselves that have lead to the serious prblems of today.
Finally, the Asia Institute is engaged in a dialog with stakeholders from across Asia concerning the future of Asia itself. How can we move beyond traditional power rivalries and imagine Asia as a peaceful totality in which integration provides new horizons? How can the institutional and ideological barriers of the current day be overcome through the sheer originality of our vision? Can we bring the perspective of experts from the Middle East or Southeast Asia to the debate on the peaceful reunification of the Korean Peninsula, thus illuminating aspects of the problem previously invisible? Only by completely redefining our most basic assumptions about growth, peace, security and prosperity can we hope to move beyond the current stalemate. The challenges of climate change and unprecedented technological change make such a conceptual reconfiguration imperative.
The Asia Institute has prepared reports for the Korea Research Institute for Bioscience and Biotechnology (KRIBB), Korea Institute for Geoscience and Materials (KIGAM), Korea Institute for Nuclear Safety (KINS), Seoul National University and the Korea Research Institute for Standards and Science (KRISS). Other partners include the University of Tsukuba, KAIST and ETRI (Electronic Telecommunication Research Institute).
Research & Analysis
The Asia Institute works with its senior researchers, senior associates and partner institutions to engage experts and stakeholders around the world as we examine critical current issues. Our research is aimed at producing accessible, objective evaluations and meaningful suggestions and proposals to policy makers and citizens around the world. Our research takes the form of reports, presentations, articles, seminar and videos. Research encompasses both materials aimed at the specialist as well as explanations for youth and for generalists that assure an open and relevant treatment of issues. The position papers, white papers and short articles on contemporary issues produced by the Asia Institute are on occasion translated into multiple languages to assure a wide readership in the decision-making process at the international and local level.
The Asia Institute hosts small-scale seminars that engage stake holders and experts at the local level throughout Asia to discuss critical issues and propose concrete solutions. Larger international conferences and webinar events bring together experts and stakeholders from around the world. Separate seminars for youth are held in conjunction with these events that provide significant opportunities for youth to engage with experts. We strive to bring together key players related to an issue who would otherwise not have occasion to meet as a means of seeking out new perspectives and original solutions.
Welcome from the Director
The Asia Institute represents a new era. No longer can think tanks merely dispense wisdom from the advanced West to a developing Asia. Today Asia has a wide range of assets and wisdom that the world needs and the time has come for a dialog between equals about the future of humanity. No longer are research institutes solely concerned with a single national agenda. The Asia Institute is truly international in perspective and actively seeks out the opinions and support of individuals and institutions across Asia and the world. Over the last five years the Asia Institute has offered a new space for honest dialog across the world on topics such as technology and society, integration and the emergence of new partnerships across Asia and the environment–critical topics that are often overlooked in fuss about Six Party Talks and Free Trade Agreements.
The cooperation between the Asia Institute,Tsukuba University, the Korea Science and Technology Policy Institute, the Japan National Institute of Environmental Studies, King Saud University, Georgia Tech, the Korea Research Institute for Biosciences and Biotechnology, the National Nanofabrication Center, KAIST, Seoul National University’s Advanced Institutes of Convergence Technology, Ecocity Builders, the Korea Institute of Geosciences and Materials, Korea Research Institute for Standards and Science, and numerous other institutes and companies has resulted in conferences, seminars, policy reports, research papers, articles in multiple languages and most important of all, the opening up of a truly international discourse on overlooked issues critical in this age of rapid geopolitical change.
We launched the Asia Institute in 2007 because we felt that although Asia is clearly becoming integrated at a rapid rate as a result of growing trade, the Internet, and financial interactions, the opportunities for stakeholders to come together and talk about the long-term implications of change are still far too few. To achieve true convergence, we need a sophisticated fabric of personal relations and collaboration in technology, research, governance and policy to complement integration in logistics and energy supplies.
The Asia Institute organized the Daejeon meeting (12th plenary) of the Limited Nuclear Weapons Free Zone for Northeast Asia (LNWFZ-NEA) in October, 2008, the culmination of a comprehensive effort to create a secure East Asia through frank discussions between specialists and government officials about a nuclear free zone. The LNWFZ-NEA meeting brought together scholars, ambassadors and generals from around the world for a frank discussion of a concrete and practical proposal to limit nuclear weapons in Northeast Asia. Attendees included former assistant secretary of state Robert Gallucci.
Addressing the environmental crisis has been a high priority at the Asia Institute. Our early efforts such as the Daejeon Environment Forum, brought together researchers from across Korea’s legendary Daedeok research cluster to discuss how to combine their efforts to develop environmental technologies. Daejeon Metropolitan City officially endorsed the Daejeon Environment Forum and supported our activities . We visited Washington D.C. where I delivered a talk with KAIST Vice President Yang Jiwon at CSIS about the forum’s work. The forum also established cooperative relations with the cities of Tsukuba and Palo Alto and Tsukuba University and Stanford University.
The Daejeon Environment Forum worked with Tsukuba University to establish the International 3E (Environment, Energy, Economy) Forum and the 3E Café for young people. 3E Forums were held in Daejeon (May, 2009) and Shenzhen (July, 2009) bringing together experts from China, Japan and Korea. A 3E International Café was held in Korea in August 2009, bringing together youth to discuss climate change and the potential for global cooperation. The students from Japan, China, Korea and other nations visited research institutes such as KRIBB, KIER and KAIST to speak with experts, and held their own seminars in conjunction with the United Nations Environment Programme. The high point was a lecture by the founder of Ecocity Builders, Richard Register, who spoke about the future of the city.
The Asia Institute also drafted a proposal for an alliance of eco cities that was widely distributed in multiple languages and received a positive response in Palo Alto, Tsukuba, Japan, and Shenzhen China. A proposal made by myself and John Feffer to rebuild the city of Wenchuan as a model eco city after it was damaged by an earthquake was translated into Chinese and published by China News.
The increase in engagement between Korea and India since both countries signed the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement has also been reflected in Asia Institute activities. The Asia Institute successfully established close relations with Bimtech, the Birla Institute of Management Technology in Delhi. We also negotiated an MOU for close cooperation in nanofabrication between Korea’s National Nano Fabrication Center (one of the world’s leading research facilities) and the Indian Nano Consortium. Among the projects we organized under the direction of Dr. Singh and the Indo-Korea Business Forum was the conference “New Opportunities in Science Collaboration between Korea and India” (January, 2010), an event that brought together Korean and Indian experts, and promoted closer cooperation between the two countries. This conference was sponsored by the Korean Ministry of Knowledge Economy, Daedeok Innopolis, and the Indian Embassy. Indo-Korea Business Forum continues to hold numerous conferences about India’s new role in East Asia.
Although economic ties between Korea and the Middle East increased rapidly in 2008, there was almost no cooperation taking place between institutions or individuals in the two countries. Fahad Altouraif, the Vice President of NCB Capital, a Saudi Investment Bank served as the program director of the East Asia Middle East Program. He wrote several important reports on cooperation between Korea and the Middle East that were then widely discussed in the region. Next, Mezyad Alterkawi, CEO of the Riyadh Technology Incubation Center at King Saud University took over as program director and started a very close collaboration that included a series of articles calling for closer collaboration between the two regions (and Korea and Saudi Arabia in particular) that were published in Yonhap News, MK Daily News and other major Korean newspapers. Markku Heiskanen, former senior diplomat, serves as program director for the Finland-East Asia Program, coordinating exchanges and cooperation between Finland and the nations of East Asia. Finland has been the most active of the European countries in engaging Asia in long-term relation. Our work since 2008 has included close cooperation with Finland’s leading research institute VTT. VTT has since started close collaboration with ETRI and KAIST in display technology.
The Asia Institute has conducted research on the rise of nuclear power, and Korea’s role in the process of evaluating the role of nuclear power. We conducted a year-long research project with the Korea Institute for Nuclear Safety (KINS) consisting of a survey of nuclear power in Southeast Asia and visits to Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam to meet with experts in government, business and academia. We are currently working on a project with Korea Federation of Women’s Science and Technology Associations on concerning strategies for cooperation throughout Asia on nuclear policy.
The Asia Institute launched its Convergence Technology Program in July 2010 as a response to a request from the Korea Industry Convergence Association. I was appointed an advisor to the Korea Industry Convergence Association in October 2010, and have been engaged in discussions international cooperation in convergence of nanotechnology, biotechnology & information technology. We have produced articles on convergence technologies for major Korean journals and seminars at five major research institutes in Korea. We launched the Global Convergence Forum together with the Korea Research Institute for Standards and Science in December, 2010. More recently, we undertook a study of international collaboration in convergence technology together with Seoul National University’s Advanced Institutes of Convergence Technology working closely with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Yale University and University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. The Asia Institute has also worked closely with Japan’s RIKEN institute, especially their offices at Hanyang University in Seoul.
Looking forward, the Asia Institute will continue to expand and develop our activities. We have started new programs such as the Mongolia and Beyond Program and the Global China Program that engage stakeholders in a dialogue about the globalized future of the region. We also have launched the Women in Asia Program to consider the critical role that women are serving in Asia today. Our Benchmarking Korea Program considers the impact that Korea has throughout the world as it is increasingly benchmarked by developing nations. We have further plans for expansion and welcome invitations for cooperation.
Unique Principles of the Asia Institute
A New Vision for Asia
The Asia Institute believes that a different approach is required to resolve the long-standing problems which plague the most rapidly growing region in the world. Asia is rapidly becoming the economic and intellectual center of the world. Yet, the immense potential of Asia is undercut by military build-ups, misconceived concepts of growth, ecological degradation and environmental strain, thoughtless use of technology and the decay of traditional cultures into consumerism. The Asia Institute presents a vision of a greater Asia that can inspire our age.
The Asia Institute produces reports and proposals that are immediately relevant and can be readily implemented at the local level. We strive to localize our ideas and engage in a deep dialog with both international and local stakeholders about how we can respond to global challenges. When we propose improved environmental standards in Vietnam, for example, we prepare materials in Vietnamese that government officials and local citizens can readily employ at the local level. We work with youth around the world and encourage them to cooperate with each other to address common issues as a team.
Although English, the lingua franca of Asia, is central for our work, the Asia Institute is a multilingual institution, conducting research and activities in multiple languages for multiple audiences. We imagine a future in which the major projects of the Asia Institute are conducted in multiple languages.
Addressing the needs of Youth
We believe that policy makers can learn from youth and that youth must be involved in the policy debate at the local, national and global levels. The Asia Institute involves young people in our activities: as interns, as members of seminars, as writers and contributors. Asia Institute Seminars allow youth to engage directly with leading figures in research, government and business. The Asia Institute believes that young people must have a voice in the debate about the future of Asia.
At the same time that the Asia Institute conducts seminars involving high-level officials and experts, we make sure that concerned individuals from the local and international community are involved in the debate. We believe that everyone has a right to make a meaningful contribution to the discussion.
The Asia Institute strives to make long-term commitments to working with institutions and communities across Asia to build a better tomorrow. We are not interested in short-term, high-profile, solutions that are not sustainable.
New paradigms for cooperation
The Asia Institute is committed to creating new paradigms for international cooperation. We build alliances between NGOs, research institutes, governments and businesses across Asia, encourage interaction between young people in different Asian nations, and explore new approaches to bringing together stakeholders. We are exploring the potential of the Internet to foster cooperation between local groups across the globe.
Positive use of technology
The rapid development of new technologies that go beyond the capability of human society to rapidly adapt is one of the greatest challenges of our age. The Asia Institute is committed to finding positive uses for new technologies and honestly addressing negative implications.