As Director, it is my great pleasure to introduce the Asia Institute, a School of the Faculty of Arts at The University of Melbourne. The Asia Institute is The University of Melbourne's key centre for studies in Asian languages and cultures. Our teaching programs include Arabic, Chinese, Indonesian and Japanese languages, as well as Asian and Islamic Studies. The Asia Institute has close links with other Schools and Faculties across the University, and our programs are strongly interdisciplinary in focus.
Academic staff at the Asia Institute have an array of research interests and specialisations which may be loosely grouped into three broad categories: language and society, religion and tradition, and mobility and popular culture. Academics at the Asia Institute are regularly called on by local and national media sources to provide expert opinions on a range of contemporary and historical issues that arise in both scholarly and popular debate. The Asia Institute also has an exciting roster of visiting scholars, hosts several annual conferences, and participates in a range of cultural exchange programs. Our close involvement with the broader community is further demonstrated by our hosting of the National Centre of Excellence for Islamic Studies and a new Centre for Contemporary Chinese Studies.
The importance of Asia and the Middle East to Australia - and the world - continues to grow at a significant pace. Many of Australia's largest and most important trading partners are based in Asia, and diplomatic exchanges between Australia and the Middle East are expanding in both number and importance. The Asia Institute strives to provide leadership in the study of the rich intellectual, legal, political, cultural and religious traditions of these vital regions.
On behalf of our staff and students, as well as our alumni and friends, I am delighted to welcome you to the Asia Institute.
Professor Pookong Kee, Director, Asia Institute.