The 21st century is an era of hope for humanity. Globalisation, the remarkable advances in research, science and technology, and the accelerating rise of populous Asia, will drive economic progress and improve the lives of countless people.
The 21st century is also the time when humanity faces some of its greatest challenges. One could think for example, of environmental sustainability and global warming; of public health and the pressures of rapid demographic shifts, of income inequalities and financial security.
Many of the critical issues of the 21st century are complex, multifaceted and have complicated interconnections. They will require new research approaches that provide more integrative understanding and insights that can better inform and enable appropriate action.
As NUS pursues our vision to be a leading Global university centred in Asia, one strategy is to make ourselves a well-connected knowledge hub which distinguishes itself by providing a NEW AND MORE INTEGRATED UNDERSTANDING of critical issues in Asia.
The new NUS Global Asia Institute set up in September 2009, will provide the platform for such integrative Asia-studies.
An initial set of research themes has been defined which for a start, are centred around critical issues for Asian cities in a globalizing world.
Challenges for Asian cities in the globalised world economy, for example, in relation to economic stress;
The future of urban society in Asia including issues relating to education, public health and health care, and community building;
Managing resources for livable cities in Asia including water, waste management, energy and food security, and housing.
For example, what are the innovative technological solutions, policy options and partnerships that could be adopted to solve these issues in an efficient and sustainable manner?
Funding through GAI will bring researchers from NUS departments and research institutes together to work in small groups on key research questions that cross disciplinary boundaries. GAI will also draw eminent overseas scholars to NUS, to pursue research on these areas for 3-6 month periods. Regular workshops will be convened where data are shared, findings integrated, and new areas of inquiry identified.
We envision that the GAI will produce high impact research publications, a unique learning milieu for students, as well as conferences and monographs that provide rigorous, integrative studies of key issues in Asia, the interconnections between them, and between China and India.
A critical output of GAI, however, will be how these contribute to finding solutions to real-world problems particularly in Asia.
We hope that GAI will also enhance Singapore's continued competitiveness by being a magnet for talented individuals that have an interest to participate in an exciting venture that can contribute ideas and solutions to help meet the challenges of Asia, and ultimately contribute to the growth of the entire region and the world.