Asia Centre’s New Head of Development is Tiit Tammaru

Since the beginning of the academic year, Academician Tiit Tammaru has been the new Head of Development of the University of Tartu Asia Center. On a daily basis, Tiit works in the Department of Geography, focusing on research on human mobility, cities and inequality. What he is doing at Asia Centre, why it is necessary to develop activities towards Asia, and what he thinks all people should know about Asia, can be read in more detail below.

1. What is your connection with Asia?

As a population and urban researcher, I am interested in what is happening in Asia, because almost 60% of the Earth's population lives there. China is interesting for its population policy, India for its rapid population growth. The world's largest cities have emerged in Asia - Tokyo, Delhi and Shanghai are the three largest cities in the world according to the UN definition.
In the Department of Geography, we have the closest cooperation with the Institute of the Smart City at Shanghai University, and also we do have many good students from Asia who have come to study at our master's program "Geoinformatics for Urbanized Societies". Through our students and their research, our own knowledge of Asian countries also increases.

2. What have you been doing in your research?

My research is about human mobility, cities and inequality. In recent years, together with colleagues from Delft University of Technology, we have been conducting comparative studies of European and world cities. We will soon have the book “Urban Socio-Economic Segregation and Income: A Global Perspective” (Springer) edited by colleagues, which shows that it is in Asia that the least segregated cities in the world can be found. Tokyo, one of the most expensive cities in the world, is a good example of this. We have also just published an article on the subject in Nature Human Behavior, comparing segregation in London, New York and Tokyo. We want to continue to do such benchmarking in the future, looking for exciting opportunities from less traditional data sources.

3. What do you do at the Asia Center and why are these activities important?

My main job is still in the geography department. However, I will try to be of both advice and strength to help target the activities of the Asian Center. The reason for this is very simple - the world's top universities can in no way ignore the growing importance of Asia in teaching and research, and I consider it natural that the University of Tartu is also rethinking its activities in Asia. I am pleased that in a short time, the Asian Center of the University of Tartu has become visible and taken seriously in Estonia, helping to start Estonia's Asian strategy, among other things. My aim is certainly to help strengthen teaching and research in Asia.

4. Recommendation or a fact that you should definitely do, know, experience about Asia?

It is still not important to remember that 60% of the world's population lives in Asia. This is a fact that cannot be ignored. Instead of China, India will become the most populous country. Japan is leading the way in an aging world, struggling with aging by focusing on innovation rather than immigration. China's population is aging rapidly and, due to its large population, it cannot be treated very successfully with immigration. Rather, it leads to innovation. All of these are interesting topics that Asia offers us.