In an era of increased global East-West collaborative transformation and flows, multilateral exchanges have emerged as central in higher education, academic mobility, and scholarship networks. The Asia-Europe Institute (AEI) leads Asia’s efforts to revitalize learning and development in the Social sciences in higher education. Through a focus on global scholarship, AEI has become a leading institute for the promotion and development of social science education, with specific focii on regional studies, business, economics, politics, humanities etc, bridging Asia and Europe
Established under the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) process with a philosophy of enhancing Asia-Europe relations, AEI fosters exchange of students and scholars and research on Asia-Europe so as to increase cultural, historical, political, institutional, economic, business and legal understandings and practices of and between these two globally major regions. AEI origins were curated from conceptions of tightening higher education linkages between Asia and Europe, within the provisions of the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) initiative in 1996. In 1997, the Government of Malaysia established the Asia-Europe Centre (AEC), the first stage toward an Asia-Europe University cooperation in education, and one designed to strongly support the Fourth Pillar of the ASEM process. Three years into its inception, on January 2nd 2000, the AEC transformed into a fully-fledged academic institution. Renamed as the Asia-Europe Institute (AEI), and hosted by the University of Malaya, the oldest university in Malaysia, it has since received staunch support from the Government of Malaysia, as well as from other ASEM countries. AEI now reflects Malaysia’s commitment to further internationalising higher education and to advancing AEI as an educational infrastructure of intra and inter regional network scholarship for Asia and Europe in the 21st century.
Positioning itself as an architect of progressive educational ideologies, AEI has created an environment for academics and students alike to embark on and further careers in the social sciences, humanities and political sciences, while building these pedagogies around a firm research agenda. This research and concomitantly aligning pedagogies parallel all interregional educative pursuits of AEI, while offering opportunities for students, academics, and larger academic networks and establishments to strengthen multilateral relationships.
AEI has enhanced its position through activities focusing on the process of teaching and learning in its four Masters and PhD programmes, its lectures, seminars, conferences, and research. The cooperation and support of local and foreign academics, various embassies, as well as AEI’s staff and students have made it possible for AEI to organise and participate in these activities at both a national and international level. Since its inception, AEI has acted as one of Southeast Asia’s leading institutions and has made staunch efforts to bridge the gap between Asia and Europe through academic research and postgraduate studies. With regard to research, AEI has broadened its international network through collaborative projects such as the Islam and Multiculturalism project, Health risk study comparisons between Europe and South East Asia, international relations, and regional integration. Multiple upcoming projects that promise to further strengthen currently established ties as well as fostering new ones will also be implemented. In addition to this, AEI has in its International Master’s and doctoral programmes, a student body that encompasses various EU and Asian nations, which reflects the diversity and adaptability of our programmes. Highly qualified local and foreign visiting professors convene these postgraduate programmes in the areas of ASEAN Studies, Regional Integration, Information Management and Small and Medium Businesses.
Through its papers, policy documents, conferences, symposiums and academic exhibitions, AEI has become a juncture for global epistemological pursuits, framed through an intensified focus on Asia and Europe. Framing its academic pursuits, AEI commits itself to continuing a diverse AEI Lecture Series, convened by globally renowned experts in each respective field. This includes the Eminent Persons Lecture Series and theAmbassador Lecture Series, a series of public lectures delivered by Visiting Professors and diplomats. Esteemed speakers until the present include former Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, former Minister of Foreign Affairs Tan Sri Syed Hamid bin Syed Jaafar Albar, former Prime Minister of the Netherlands, His Excellency Ruud Lubbers, and former ASEAN Secretary-General His Excellency Dr. Surin Pitsuwan. The Lecture Series provides a platform for these key figures to transfer their experiences to a large public audience. The AEI has hosted lectures such as that by the former Japanese Ambassador to Malaysia and Grand Master of the Japanese Crown Prince's Household Datuk Issei Nomura, in commemoration of the 30th anniversary of the Look East Policy (2012), and HE Dr Surin Pitsuwan on the future of ASEAM (2015).
In the next few years, AEI will focus on strengthening institutional and individual networking, intensifying international research collaboration and nurturing cross-disciplinary and comparative perspectives, upgrading the programmes offered, and increasing the numbers of staff and student exchanges. We warmly welcome scholars and students from around the world to partake in these activities and bi/multilateral exchanges.
Prof. Dr. Azirah Hashim
University of Malaya