What is EastAsiaNet?
- EastAsiaNet is a Network of European research schools with a social-science focus on East Asia
- The participating institutions are active in tertiary education, so the network cooperates in postgraduate training as well as in research
- ‘East Asia’ is understood to cover Japan, Korea, and Greater China
What are the Goals of EastAsiaNet?
- Principal goal: realise synergies between participating institutions
- “Stand-by” network for members to realise projects – either among all, or of sub-groups – that surpass the capacity of single institutions
- In research: Cover more competencies, including relevant input from the humanities, to realise ambitious research projects at international levels of excellence
- In training: Internationalise courses in terms of content and trainers to provide optimum training environment for learners
- Contribute high-level expertise to a European perspective on Euro-Asia relations
- Support a social science-focus in East Asian studies among members and countries where it is not well developed yet
- Meeting of member institutes: Member institutes and Observers meet to discuss and decide about common issues and projects once a year.
- Each member institution appoints a representative to the Executive Board. The Executive Board comes together during the yearly meetings and makes decisions of strategic significance.
Projects are run by representatives from various members
- In between, a Steering Group takes care of day-to-day matters. The committee consists of a member from Duisburg and usually from the organisers of the last and of the forthcoming meetings.
- Apart from full members, there is a second membership category of “Observers“. This category encompasses institutions that do not currently fulfill the conditions for full membership. Observers have the right to attend, make proposals and engage in discussions.
Developing Linkages among Members
Since its inauguration in 2006, regular meetings of members have allowed them to develop ever closer linkages in teaching and research, helping them to create additional added value. A few examples may suffice to show how EastAsiaNet works in practice.
Over the years, EastAsiaNet member institutes through their research activities have nurtured a significant number of young scholars, who are now playing a major role in invigorating the field of area studies further, through fresh theoretical concepts, empirical methods, and topical subjects.
Teacher exchange, particularly under the EU Erasmus scheme, has allowed members to offer courses they would otherwise have to miss due to limited capacities. For instance, Madrid has frequently welcomed visitors from Sheffield and elsewhere, and Duisburg was able to organize Korea-related lectures for its students.
Such stays have sometimes been associated with taking teaching programmes to a higher level. For example, the UAB (Barcelona) and the Università Ca’Foscari Venezia have begun collaborating at the postgraduate level. A professor from UAB has been named to the PhD staff at Ca’Foscari as an international member and was a Visiting Professor at Ca’Foscari during the Spring Term in 2013. Both universities are also beginning to collaborate at the level of cotutelle of PhD Theses and are preparing to sign an agreement to create a joint PhD programme. Doctoral level cotutelle has been used for a considerable time already, for instance by Lyon, and is something that can benefit further from intensified personal linkages thanks to EastAsiaNet, as long as administrative differences can be overcome. An example for such opportunities is the agreement between Lyon and Vienna currently under negotiation (as of early 2014). EastAsiaNet uses an intranet facility as a clearing house for negotiating the supply and demand of teacher exchange.
In terms of career development, EastAsiaNet can often help to get its younger scholars started on an international platform. They participate in the regular workshops, present their projects and become visible abroad. In one interesting case, for example a doctoral candidate from Duisburg moved on to become a postdoc in Lund, and has since been named a professor in Vienna. In the case of Sheffield, being integrated into the network enabled a PhD student to be successful in gaining a post-doc at Lund, which then became the basis for him gaining a permanent position at a university outside of the network.
Student exchange, again greatly facilitated by the EU Erasmus scheme, is another feature of utilizing intensifying linkages among members. While students are obviously interested in spending some time in an East Asian university, shorter stays in the European partner universities of EastAsiaNet offer a way to pursue study interests that supplement the courses offered by their home institution. For example, students from Venice have studied in Prague to work on specific extra capabilities.
On the level of research, stimulating encounters with partners can have important consequences for designing and extending innovative research agendas. The White Rose East Asia Centre with its member institutes in Leeds and Sheffield, for example, helped Duisburg to win the support of the German Research Foundation for a prestigious doctoral-level research training group.
For developing such synergies in research, it is important that despite the wide range of EastAsiaNet members’ research agendas in the social sciences, a common ground was found in discussing issues of risks and hazards related to East Asia, including such topics with respect to the inter-regional relations between Europe and East Asia. Theorizing and applying academic concepts of „risk“ have for example been a consistent theme in all EastAsiaNet workshops. With respect to the cooperation of the White Rose East Asia Centre and Duisburg mentioned above, for instance, it is noteworthy that Duisburg’s training group is concerned with „Risk in East Asia“, benefitting from Leeds’ and Sheffield’s interest in this topic during its beginnings and cooperating in that area since, as illustrated by staff and students from the two institutions visiting Duisburg for as part of postgraduate training in risk research.