Message from the Director
I am happy to announce that our Center’s website is now available for all of you. As you know, Koç University’s Center for Asian Studies (KUASIA) was established by the end of 2016 under the leadership of our President, Prof. Umran Inan. I sincerely hope that this Center will provide an open forum for our students and scholars to learn and to carry out research on a wide variety of topics that are pertinent to Asia.
Surprisingly, our knowledge on Asia in Turkey generally remains poor among the public at large and even in some business and academic circles. Asia is important to us – demographically, geographically and historically. First of all, Asia is home to 60% of the world’s population and has been undergoing profound changes and resurgence. It is of utmost significance to follow these recent developments closely as Turkey is also located in Asia with deep historical ties in the region. Second, not only does Asia account for 40% of global GDP but also—and more surprisingly to many—of global R&D expenditure. Chinese students alone now account for nearly a third of all foreign students at American universities, mostly in science, technology and business studies. However, many universities in Asia, especially those Singapore, South Korea, Japan, China, and India, have become leading research and learning institutions. KU students started to prefer new destinations in Asia rather than going to Europe and the US (see under About Us section for student testimonials). Third, the Belt and Road Initiative led by Chinese President Xi Jinping and supported unequivocally by Turkey in an endeavor to revive the Silk Road and to strengthen cultural, economic and political connections through improved infrastructure and trade relations. Yet, there are challenges and risks ahead like the North Korean aggression, effects of climate change, economic difficulties, extreme poverty, huge disparities in income and lack of access to basic needs for millions living in the region, including education and sanitation.
Despite these challenges, many analysts and thinkers believe that we are on the cusp of the “Asian Century”. Obviously, neither the world nor Turkey can afford to ignore Asia’s rise. 21st Century is quickly turning into an Asian century. What was once a possibility is now turning into an obvious reality. However, this is not to say that Euramerica – to borrow the term coined by Indian sociologist – Benoy Kumar Sarkar, will anytime soon lose their grip on innovation, military prowess and overall economic clout in the world. Therefore, I strongly believe that in order to analyze and interpret the recent events and developments in Asia, there is a need to develop first and foremost a truly informed awareness about the diversity of Asian society, Asian politics, economics, history and its amazing and vibrant culture. Here, at Koç University, we have recently started to offer you some courses on Asia, including basic Chinese (Mandarin) classes as of Fall Semester 2017. Chinese is spoken by millions in the world and we thought our students should not be left out. Please check our ‘news’ section for more information regarding these KU courses.
Although KUASIA embraces the study of all Asian countries and their interactions, we have a special focus on China, India, Singapore, South Korea and Japan. Our mission is two-fold: 1) to produce academic and policy-relevant research on Asia and to promote collaboration between Turkish and Asian institutions, 2) to train and prepare the next generation of entrepreneurs, academics, ambassadors, politicians and equip them better to respond to the demands of the global world. With our scientific and cultural events, informative talks, we intend increase the well-deserved interest towards Asia among our hand-picked and hard-working students and scholars.
Looking forward to seeing you all at our events.
Sebnem Koser Akcapar