Four countries, 13 days, 9 campuses, multiple meetings with government officials, hundreds of IU alumni. “It was work,” David Zaret said at a briefing on the trip in the Grand Foyer of the IU Auditorium. Zaret, vice president for international affairs, and President Michael McRobbie led an IU delegation to Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia, and Malaysia in May.
“We went to Southeast Asia for the same reason we have visited other regions of the world—to advance strategic priorities of the IU international plan,” Zaret explained. “We would like to have more agreements with top quality universities across the world, agreements that provide opportunities for faculty and students to go back and forth. We want to expand opportunities for undergraduates to engage in study abroad experiences. Finally, we were looking for ways to help our Indiana alumni reconnect to the university.”
When they returned, they had recognized an “odd discrepancy,” Zaret said. “Among American universities, we have some of the oldest ties to universities in Southeast Asia. We have 10,000 IU alums in the four countries we visited, possibly more than any other US institution. Yet, though we have many active programs in area studies, Southeast Asia is perhaps the one region of the world where we do very little. The president and I agree that it really ought to be an institutional priority to develop a thriving program in Southeast Asian Studies.”The campuses visited: National Institute for Development Assistance, Bangkok Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok Nanyang Technological University, Singapore National University Singapore Yale-National University of Singapore Universitas Gadjah Mada, Yogyakarta Universitas Indonesia, Jakarta University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur Universiti Teknologi MARA, Shah Alam