Institute of Asian Research

The Institute of Asian Research is the focal point for Asia-related policy and current affairs as well as interdisciplinary scholarship on contemporary Asia at the University of British Columbia.

Since its founding in 1978, the IAR has built a strong reputation as the premier Asia-focused research institute and think tank in Canada, serving as an active hub for research, teaching, policy support, and community engagement. In 2017, the IAR co-founded the School of Public Policy and Global Affairs.

Located in the on the University of British Columbia’s Vancouver campus, the IAR is home to five interdisciplinary and regionally-focused research centres, as well as several related programs and initiatives.

The IAR aims to build knowledge and networks that support deep understanding of and effective action on a wide range of domestic, regional, and global issues centered on Asia. It does this through several key activities:

  • Public, academic, and policy engagement through collaborative research (including a long-standing relationship with Pacific Affairs) and partnerships with policy makers in Canada, the United States, and the Asia Pacific region
  • Core teaching and training, including in the Master of Public Policy and Global Affairs program
  • Global network-building, community engagement, and regular public events

The IAR’s core expertise covers a range of Asia Pacific-relevant policy issues and current affairs, including:

  • Governance, public policy, and democratization
  • Urbanization, migration, and social transformation
  • Energy, resource management, and sustainability
  • Trade, development, security, and Canada-Asia relations

Its affiliated faculty, from both within SPPGA and across UBC, are among the world’s leading experts on contemporary Asia. Many are available for media commentary or policy consulting.

The IAR fosters partnerships across UBC campus, including within the social sciences, applied sciences, education, forestry, business, law, and community/regional planning. This collaborative interdisciplinary approach enables constructive engagement with the complex contemporary issues that fall under the umbrella of public policy and global affairs.

The IAR is currently led by Director Kai Ostwald, Associate Professor with the School of Public Policy and Global Affairs and the Department of Political Science.

Please contact Yoko Nagao, the IAR Project Manager, with inquiries about internal or external collaboration.

Research Centres, Programs, and Initiatives

The IAR’s research centres, programs, and initiatives offer a wide range of events, activities, and programs. They enable applied interdisciplinary research and engagement that falls beyond the scope of traditional academic units.

The IAR’s five regional research centres are:

In addition to the Centres, the IAR provides funding and support to several Asia-focused programs and initiatives, including:

Launched by the IAR in 2000, the Master of Arts in Asia Pacific Policy Studies (MAAPPS) was the first graduate program in Canada to provide training and research opportunities for policy professionals with a focus on contemporary Asia. Today, program alumni hold key roles in academia, public institutions, private enterprises and non-governmental organizations around the world. The last MAAPPS cohort was accepted in 2014; it was instrumental in the creation of the Master of Public Policy and Global Affairs (MPPGA) program.

The IAR Fellows Program brings together UBC graduate students with an interest in advancing research that addresses a broad range of issues – particularly those with relevance to policy or global affairs – and is based on engagement with and deep knowledge of contemporary Asia.

IAR Fellows are connected to an IAR regional centre or program; they receive a research stipend, dedicated workspace, supportive engagement with other fellows and faculty members, and immersion in the intellectually stimulating IAR and SPPGA community. In addition, fellows meet at regular intervals to exchange perspectives on current developments in their region of focus and provide mutual support for their research and publishing.

For the 2021/22 academic year, 55 IAR Fellows were selected. They represent seventeen different units from across campus, ranging from the SPPGA, Political Science, and History, through Anthropology, English Literature, and the Applied Sciences.

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