New forum uses Oxford research to connect Britain with South-East Asia

A forum that disseminates Oxford University research to policymakers and business leaders via the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has held its inaugural meeting.

The ASEAN-Oxford Forum has been established to facilitate knowledge exchange between the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office, British researchers, and the ASEAN member states.

The Forum will meet once every three months to discuss major themes affecting ASEAN and the UK, including trade, the environment and security. Alternating annual residential conferences at Oxford University and counterpart institutions in South-East Asia will facilitate international research collaborations.

'The ASEAN-Oxford Forum has been launched at an epochal juncture in East-West relations. The centre of gravity for global growth generation is moving from the North Atlantic to the South China Sea, with corollary shifts in relative power,' said Dr John Jenner of Oxford University's History Faculty and China Centre, who is director of the Forum.

'The Forum will be the governing Public-Private Partnership for knowledge exchange and research dissemination between the UK and ASEAN, bridging crucial gaps between academe and policy in Britain and South-East Asia.

'It is path-breaking for a university to take the lead on international knowledge exchange in this way. The Forum is being supported by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office; Minister of State Hugo Swire gave the keynote address at the inaugural meeting.'

The ASEAN-Oxford Forum will enable academics in many departments across all research divisions of the University to present their work to ASEAN, and to reach out to policymakers, industry and business leaders, as well as fellow academics across South-East Asia.

The ASEAN-Oxford Forum is also expected to produce interdisciplinary impacts on relations in South-East Asia, Dr Jenner explained. 'Oxford University hosts visiting research fellows from China, India and Japan who are meeting their counterparts from South-East Asian nations for the first time through the Forum,' he said.

'This allows them to sit down and discuss major issues affecting the region in a way that is more informal and relaxed than in traditional track one [government to government or military to military] forums.'

Dr Jenner added: 'Collegial channels such as these could prove to be very important for promoting peace and knowledge exchange in this rising region.'

The next ASEAN-Oxford Forum will be held in May 2013, at which H. E. High Commissioner Jasudasen of Singapore will give the keynote speech on free trade agreements.