The Institute for Asian Research (IAR) was founded in 1978 as a focal point for Asia-related activities on the University of British Columbia’s Vancouver campus. Following in the spirit of the Institute of Pacific Relations (IPR), which was founded in the United States in 1925 to discuss relations among Pacific Rim nations, the IAR even inherited the IPR’s flagship publication, Pacific Affairs. Today, the IAR is an internationally respected hub for research, teaching, policy support and community engagement on Asia.

Let’s take a closer look at the Institute’s evolution over the past four decades:

Year Event
1970 UBC establishes the Institute of Asian and Slavonic Research to accommodate the growing number of faculty who are studying Asia and the Far East.
1977 The Chapman Committee under the Dean of Graduate Studies and the Winter Committee under the Dean of Arts agree to create an institute that deals exclusively with Asia. An interim council is created to manage the new Institute of Asian Research (IAR) and the first IAR Newsletter is issued to all those with a substantial research interest in Asia.
1978 The IAR becomes fully operational on September 1.
1978‑1979 The IAR welcomes a number of visiting scholars, hosts seminars and workshops, and organizes meetings where graduate students can discuss challenges and share information concerning Asian research.
1981 The IAR moves to six offices in the Asian Centre, which it shares with the Asian Library and the Department of Asian Studies.
The Institute is now coordinating and sponsoring interdisciplinary research, presenting lectures and seminars, organizing international conferences, hosting Asian visitors, administering the Pacific Affairs journal, publishing Asia Pacific Report, managing the Asian Centre and welcoming community cultural events.
1989‑1995 The IAR raises more than $20 million in endowments and grants through the University’s World of Opportunity Campaign—donations that are doubled by the Government of British Columbia and the University Matching Funds Program.
This new funding enables the IAR to appoint endowed chairs, provide graduate fellowships, sponsor faculty and student exchanges, acquire library materials and move into its own building.
1991 The Centres for China, Japan, Korea, India and South Asia, and Southeast Asia are created within the IAR.
1993 Chairs and executive committees for the five Centres are elected.
1995 The IAR has $5 million in endowments, 285 affiliates on and off campus, 30 visiting scholars and research associates, and more than $680,000 in research grants, contracts and awards.
1996 The IAR moves into its new home, the C. K. Choi Building, in February. The building is officially inaugurated on October 7, 1996.
2000 The IAR launches the Master of Arts in Asia Pacific Policy Studies (MAAPPS), the first graduate program in Canada to focus on contemporary policy issues in Asia.
2004 His Holiness the Dalai Lama visits Vancouver at the invitation of the IAR, in collaboration with the Tibetan Cultural Society of BC, the Westcoast Sacred Arts Society, the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, Simon Fraser University and a coalition of local dharma centres.
2008 Pitman’s Project
2011 The IAR celebrates the 150th birthday of poet and Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore. UBC awards an honorary degree to economist, philosopher and Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen.
2012 UBC’s President, Provost and Dean of Arts expand the IAR’s mandate.
2015 The IAR helps launch UBC’s new Master of Public Policy and Global Affairs (MPPGA), a two-year professional degree program in global public policy.
2017 As a founding partner, the IAR launched the School of Public Policy and Global Affairs (SPPGA) at UBC.

IAR directors

1978–1992, 1995–1998 Terry McGee
1999–2008 Pitman Potter
2008–2009 Rotational
2009–2012 Paul Evans
2012–2017 Yves Tiberghien
2017–Present Timothy Cheek

IAR endowed chairs

1993 Kyung Ae Park, Korea Foundation Chair
1994–2016 Masao Nakamura, Konwakai Chair in Japanese Research
1999–2008, 2010–present Pitman Potter, HSBC Chair in Asian Research
2002 Hyung Gu Lynn, AECL/KEPCO Chair in Korean Research
2002 Tim Cheek, Louis Cha Chair in Chinese Research
2002 Julian Dierkes, Keidanren Chair in Japanese Research
2004 Tim Brook, Republic of China Chair in Chinese Research
2005–2008 Anand Pandian, Johal A & K Chair in Indian Research
2009 Jessica L. Main, The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Chair in Buddhism and Contemporary Society
2013–2016 Amartya Lahiri, Johal A & K Chair in Indian Research

Major grants

2002–2008 Major Collaborative Research Initiative Grant
$2.5 million for “Asia Pacific Program of Cross-Cultural and Comparative Research in Dispute Resolution”
2009–present Major Collaborative Research Initiative Grant
$2.5 million for “Asia Pacific Dispute Resolution Program: Understanding Integrated Compliance with International Trade and Human Rights Standards in Comparative Perspective”
(transferred to UBC’s Faculty of Law in 2012)
2013–2014 Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Conference Grant
$41,800 for “Public Health Policy in Asia: Rights, Risk and Redistribution”

Download past annual reports

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