Overview of Asia Centre's Main Achievements and Activities in 2019/2020

An academic year full of surprises is coming to an end. Like all the structures in the university, we also breathe in the rhythm of our academic year from autumn to the beginning of summer. Now we draw an imaginary line for the academic year by reviewing which planned and unplanned thoughts, plans and activities we have implemented and which ideas that have matured today will become work in the next academic year.

Milestones of the Autumn

The first year of Contemporary Asian and Middle Eastern Studies students started. 

The long-developed cross-curricular master's program was welcomed by the first students in September. Highly motivated students include students from Estonia, India, Turkey, Romania, Bangladesh and China. For more information about the programme, visit its webpage or have a look on the introduction clip.

The Asian Center Received a New Council

In the autumn, the Asian Center received a new board. We are pleased to welcome Art Leete in the field of humanities and arts, Jarek Mäestu, Külli Kingo and Triin Jagomägi in the fields of medicine..

The Doctoral School on Problems of the Information Society Brought Together Scholars from Estonia and Japan

The doctoral school conference “The challenges of the information society: a Japanese perspective” held on 25-26 September brought together more than 15 speakers from Japanese and European universities and nearly 70 participants. Read more.

Meeting with the new Ambassador of Japan in Estonia

On Friday, 17th of October, University of Tartu Asia Centre had the honour to meet with the new Ambassador Mr Kitaoka and Mrs Kitaoka at College of Foreign Languages and Cultures. We discussed former cooperation with the Embassy, new ideas, Asia Update and our new MA programme Contemporary Asian and Middle Eastern Studies. On behalf of Asia Centre, we wish you all the best and we are looking forward to further cooperation. Read more

The exceptionally warm winter was accompanied by the beginnings of several inspiring and necessary projects and joint doctoral schools with colleagues from Vietnam and Denmark.

Beginning of project “Manuscripts at the Crossroad”

The international project “Manuscripts at the Crossroad” started, in the framework of which the manuscripts in the University of Tartu Library will be studied. The long-term goal of the concept is to make the University of Tartu known, among other things, as a manuscript research center. On November 4, an exhibition on the same topic was opened within the project and a symposium was held. On January 20, an exhibition book was presented in the library.

Doctoral schools brought teachers from Vietnam and Denmark to Estonia

From 26th until 30th of November, workshop titled Dignity and society - transdisciplinary perspectives took place. Workshop was led by the Asia Center, where Estonian and Vietnamese scientists discuss humanity and its values. This is the first cooperation between Tartu and Hue University where researchers from humanities, social sciences, medicine and natural sciences cooperate. For more information, click here.

Helen Haas, a doctoral student at the UT Faculty of Theology, together with the Asian Center, the Faculty of Theology and the Doctoral School of Cultural Sciences and Arts, initiated a doctoral school on “Developing the Research Question(s): Method-Case-Theory Interaction in Religious Studies”. Professor Catharina Raudvere from the University of Copenhagen also contributed to the close discussion on 20 February.

Creating an overview of Asian and Middle East related activities at the University of Tartu

In order to answer what kind of cooperation the researchers of the University of Tartu do with their Asian colleagues and universities, we started a study. The aim of the activity is to create a mapping that highlights the current target countries, cooperation factors and main motivators. This is how we know how to best support our colleagues. The initial deadline for the preliminary outcomes is autumn 2020.

The winds of spring brought a special situation, but also new people, thoughts and activities.

Welcome to the team, Dr. Eva Liias and Urmas Hõbepappel!

In the spring, Eva Liias took over the role of Program Manager for Contemporary Asia and the Middle East. Urmas Hõbepappel started to play the role of an Asian analyst.

Contribution to the UT development plan and internationalization strategy

At the peak of the virtual meetings, we worked thoroughly with the Council of the Asia Center on the University’s development plan and the principles of internationalization.

Foreign Affairs Committee supported preparation of Asian strategy for Estonia

In our daily activities both in the academy and in society, we have noticed that the aspirations of all fields from Estonia towards Asia do not coincide. That is why we proposed to the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Riigikogu (Parliament of Estonia) to initiate Asia strategy for Estonia. As the result of the meeting on June 2, the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Riigikogu (Parliament of Estonia) decided to make a proposal to the Government to prepare the Asian strategy of Estonia. For more information, click here.

What else is happening?

We create teaching materials on talking about sensitive topics in the classroom

We received funding from the Erasmus+ KA2 funding round for a project to create teaching materials for general education and higher education institutions to support teaching on sensitive topics. The University of Tartu is a leading partner, the project is led by our communication manager Heidi Maiberg. Elo Süld, Olga Schihalejev and Alar Kilp from Tartu are also involved in the project. The partners are researchers from Central European University, Warsaw School of Economics and University of Hradec Kralove.

A book on Estonian-Japanese relations

A comprehensive book on Estonian-Japanese relations is being compiled by Ene Selart from the University of Tartu, Shingo Masuna from the University of Turku and Hiromi Komor from the University of Waseda. In addition to the Asian Center, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Estonia also supports the publication of the book.

Asia Update 2021 - The Race is On!

To keep everyone healthy, there will be an Asia Update conference on "The Race is On!" In the autumn of 2021. We will meet everyone in Tallinn on September 22-23, 2021. 

Summer school on the openness and closure of society on the example of Japan

The summer school on the openness and closure of society, which had taken place in August 2020 on the example of Japan, will take place next summer, not this year. With the support of the Japan Foundation, we plan to invite lecturers from both Estonia and Japan.

SSEL Cluster Conference on Social Responsibility in Challenging Times

It is also possible to take part in the discussion we are organizing at the conference bringing together U4 Society universities in Tartu in November. The planned discussion analyzes the impact of the habitat on a person's social, economic, educational development and opportunities, including attitudes towards the state. We are organizing a discussion in cooperation with UT human geography researchers. More information  click here.

Possible visits

Due to the spread of the coronavirus, we are postponing visits to Japan, Egypt and Vietnam for the new academic year in order to establish relations with the universities there. It is also planned to visit the center of the University of Tübingen and the NIAS network in Copenhagen.

New projects and pending applications

In addition to ongoing projects, a number of other project ideas are maturing, from two textbook ideas to in-depth research. We are still waiting for the result of the Horizon 2020 project, which we have helped to transport in cooperation with the people of the UT Faculty of Economics.

In July the Centre is on leave, but we will be back in August with full batteries to continue our work. Thank you to our wonderful partners and colleagues from University and other organisations.