Situated between China and India and their respective neighbouring countries, Southeast Asia has historically been a pivotal region of East-West trade, international relations and cultural interactions. Southeast Asia has a rich variety of regional characteristics. Nowadays, as the global economy and geopolitical power move to the region, Southeast Asia is becoming more and more important in global affairs, and it has become a prominent study in academic field in recent years.
In response to the trend of research and development in Southeast Asia, New Era University College officially established the Department of Southeast Asian Studies in February 2019, which is affiliated to the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. This department is the first department among all Malaysia's private colleges and universities to take the Southeast Asian regional research as the main focus of development. In terms of talent cultivation, the Department of Southeast Asian Studies offers a diverse curriculum based on the philosophy of “Think locally, expand globally”. It also arranges teachers from different disciplines and backgrounds, such as Taiwan, China, UK and Germany, who are trained in the fields of history, geography, sociology, education, literature, etc. to help cultivate professionals with both local and global perspectives in all relevant fields.
The Department of Southeast Asian Studies currently runs the postgraduate courses for MA and PhD degrees in ASEAN Studies. The MA programme focuses on issues related to the development and integration of economics, politics, security, education and social culture among the ASEAN members. The PhD programme has a wider range of research topics. In addition to ASEAN-related topics, it also focuses on the diverse history, ethnic groups and language culture in Southeast Asia, as well as population trends, educational development, and environmental complexity.
Southeast Asia has become a channel for the East and West since ancient times. The East and West cultures have inter-mingled, leaving behind many traces of politics, economy, society and culture. Southeast Asia is also a region where prehistoric men interacted and resided. Various human species have left their marks here. Therefore, Southeast Asia is not only culturally diverse, it is also a museum of human race.
The study of Southeast Asia has experienced several stages of development over the past hundred years, from Indian colonialism to Indianisation before moving towards the independent development of Southeast Asia, which has its own subjectivity and integrity. At the same time, it has also experienced a gradual change from Eurocentrism to Asiacentrism. Today, Southeast Asia is also one of the focuses of regional research and international relations research. This shows that the study of Southeast Asia is not only keeping pace with the times, It is also bringing something new for research. However, it is undeniable that Southeast Asian studies are still dominated by the Western countries. The emergence of China in the past two or three decades has helped to narrow the gap. And, as a member of Southeast Asia, Malaysia should take it as her responsibility to promote Southeast Asian Studies to the world.
“The Belt and Road” of China and the New Southbound Policy of Taiwan have made Southeast Asia more important in the international arena. Currently, many universities and colleges in the southern coastal areas of China have established their respective department of Southeast Asian studies, and even the college of ASEAN studies. It is likely that the development of Southeast Asian studies will continue to grow. Now, the University of Malaya is the only public university which offers MA and PhD degrees in Southeast Asian studies, while New Era University College is the first private university in Malaysia to offer the same research programmes in Southeast Asian studies. We have indeed developed another channel in cultivating regional research talents by offering students who are interested in this area but are unable to enter the public universities. Apart from this, we hope to recruit international students, especially graduate students from China. We also hope to contribute to the country by making Malaysia a regional education centre.
Our training policy stresses on staying local while accepting broad-mindedness and inclusiveness. We welcome like-minded people to join us and help us develop the programme together.
Editor: Dr Liaw Siau Chi
Advisory Board: Dr. Lim Chong Keang ,Dr Mok Soon Chong, Dr Voon Phin Keong
Publisher: Nantah Education and Research Foundation, New Era University College
First published December. 2020
Language: Simplified Chinese, English