2013-03-01 06:24:05 - Two members of the Pacific Islands Society successfully passed a new motion calling for broader recognition of "what constitutes Asia" and increased investment in Pacific studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London.
LONDON-- The School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) Student Union is calling on the administration to recognize the importance of Pacific studies if the university is to remain an academic thought leader on Asia.
Led by the efforts of Omar Zaki and Keiko Ono, two founding members of the Pacific Islands Society at SOAS, a motion was passed at the latest Union General Meeting on Monday, February 25. The motion calls for the expansion of Asian studies, including the Pacific, through increased investment in research and the creation of two new research scholarships for the 2013-2014 academic school year.
"We feel it is critical that both the administration and faculty recognize the Pacific as playing an increasingly important role in
the Asian century," Ono said. "The student body understood our concerns, but more importantly, they also echoed our ambitions."
The motion points to recent economic and political developments in the Asia-Pacific, Pacific Rim, and Trans-Pacific as signs of a structural transformation in the region. As major powers re-position and refocus on the Pacific, the strategic discourse emanating from nation capitals is no longer consistent with traditional geopolitical definitions of Asia. What constitutes "Asia" is being redefined.
"Here at SOAS, and across higher education in the UK, Asian studies can tend be too focused on specific countries or economies," Ono said. "We all know there is much more to Asia, and the principles of our academic pursuits should reflect this."
The motion calls on SOAS to recognize these developments and expand its focus on Asia, including the Pacific, to ensure it remains a globally recognized thought leader on the region.
What does this motion do?
-- calls for a commitment to the expansion of Asian regional studies at SOAS, encompassing the broader Pacific region
-- calls for the realization of new investment in Asia-Pacific research
-- calls for the funding of two new scholarships for Asia-Pacific research in the upcoming 2013-2014 academic year
What's the next step?
The Student Union co-presidents will now meet with SOAS administration to inform them of the motion's demands and the students' concern for further recognition and funding of Pacific studies. Those discussions will hopefully led to the implementation of an action plan prior to the start of admissions for the upcoming 2013-2014 academic year.
About the Pacific Islands Society at SOAS
The Pacific Islands Society at SOAS is a registered society of the SOAS Student Union. The society aims to increase student and faculty awareness of the importance of Pacific affairs within the SOAS community and the broader U.K. higher-level education system. The Pacific Islands Society at SOAS is separate from but affiliated with the Pacific Islands Society, which works to promote Pacific affairs in higher education and think tanks around the world.
For more information on Pacific Islands Society at SOAS, please visit: