Consortium for Southeast Asian Studies

UC Berkeley (UCB) has been an important site for Southeast Asian Studies (SEAS) for many decades. At UCLA, Southeast Asian Studies was formally established in 1999, spurred by widespread student demand, expanded university support, and external foundation funding. Shortly thereafter, in 2000-01, the Center for Southeast Asian Studies at UC Berkeley and UCLA joined together as a consortium National Resource Center (NRC) for Southeast Asia.

Since its founding, the consortium's mission has been to promote Southeast Asian Studies on our campuses and throughout California, as well as nationally and internationally. Our programs include the regular organization of public outreach events, including conferences and speaker series, as well as initiatives that support curriculum development for K-14 teachers.

Both campuses offer undergraduate and graduate degree programs in Southeast Asian Studies through the PhD. These programs are strengthened by well-developed language training offered in Indonesian, Filipino, Khmer (at UCB), Thai, and Vietnamese. Most Southeast Asian language courses, as well as the non-language area-related courses offered in the humanities, social sciences and professional schools, often have higher enrollments than comparable courses at other US universities. UCB's library is one of the top-ranked public university libraries in the US, and its Southeast Asia collection is substantial. UCLA's Southeast Asia collection has expanded rapidly since 2000 and is a significant resource for researchers and students.

The great strength of our consortium, and of our two campuses individually, derives from the quality and range of our faculty. Faculty expertise is particularly deep in Indonesian Studies, Vietnamese Studies, and Cambodian Studies. Indonesian Studies has been a focus at both campuses for many years, with several faculty with deep experience and numerous publications in this field. Vietnam specialists at both campuses also publish widely, mentor students, and collaborate on the Journal of Vietnamese Studies, first established in 2006, and already a substantial resource for scholars in this field. UCB has also been the administrative home for the Vietnamese Advanced Summer Institute (VASI), the overseas intensive Vietnamese language summer program since 2008.

The newest emphasis for the consortium, on Cambodian Studies, has emerged with the arrival of new faculty at UCB and at UCLA, an intensified focus on Khmer language instruction at UCB, and an expanded interest in Cambodian natural resource issues at UCLA. This widening attention to Cambodia has inspired several new projects supported by our new NRC grant, including 1) collaboration with the Center for Khmer Studies in Cambodia to create a digital library about a key Cambodian literary text; 2) support for Khmer language instruction, including the offering of Intermediate Khmer as a videoconferenced course from UCB to UCLA; 3) team-taught courses on Cambodia; and 4) new Cambodia-based research.

Other goals for the new NRC grant period include maintaining Southeast Asian language-teaching capacities at each campus and promoting improved pedagogy; expanding FLAS funding to undergraduates; continuing to produce specialists in Southeast Asian Studies from levels K-14 through the PhD; supporting our library collections; continuing successful joint outreach collaborations; and providing editorial support for the Journal of Vietnamese Studies. All of these activities are of direct relevance to our mission to promote and expand Southeast Asian Studies within the UC system as well as throughout California and beyond.