The National Chi Nan University was established with the goal of becoming an "internationally known center for Southeast Asian area studies", dedicated to "the nurturing of talent in Southeast Asian languages". To attain this goal, the Southeast Asian Research Center (SEARC) was established in 1995. It has published a number of important books such as Brief History of Southeast Asia (in Chinese) and Rewriting Mahua Literary History (in Chinese), as well as the Journal of Southeast Asian Studies (1996-1999).
On August 1, 1997, the Master program in Southeast Asian Studies was initiated and the Graduate Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (GISEAS) was established.
With the expansion of international relations between Taiwan and Southeast Asian countries, the flow of people and capital between the two areas has become more conspicuous. An on-the-job Master program was established in 2006 to accommodate government servants, teachers and private sector employees. This program is designed to accommodate in-service students and enhance their academic and practical knowledge of Southeast Asian culture, societies, politics and economics.
The year 2008 saw the establishment of the Ph.D. program in Southeast Asian Studies. In 2013, GISEAS and Graduate Institute of Anthropology (GIA) was merged and a new department was created: Department of Southeast Asian Studies (DSEAS).
The teachers in DSEAS are also closely involved with administrative and research tasks of SEARC, and contribute regularly to the publication of the academic journal Taiwan Journal of Southeast Asian Studies (since 2004). The Department of Southeast Asian Studies and the Southeast Asian Research Center have now been integrated into a unified research and teaching system.
DSEAS has become one of the leading institutes in Taiwan for the study of Southeast Asia. Its goals are to advance the research carried out on Southeast Asia, to educate students for future work in the region, and to enhance cultural and intellectual exchange among the institutes in the region. Three of its major goals are:
Strengths of the Department
The Department of Southeast Asian Studies has wide links with well known research universities and institutes in the United States, Japan, Europe, Australia, and throughout Southeast Asia. Regular academic exchanges, visits and lectures with the Department’s help strengthen the research of academic staff and broaden the students’ views on Southeast Asian studies. The Department also maintains a close cooperative relationship with the Center for Asia-Pacific Area Studies (CAPAS) at Academia Sinica, Taiwan, which offers financial supports to outstanding students from DSEAS.
National Chi Nan University has itself developed with an emphasis on Southeast Asian studies, and consequently fully supports the Department’s goals. There are more than 300,000 books and other research material in its library collection, together with access to the most up-to-date electronic journals.
Courses given by other disciplines such as political science, sociology and anthropology provide excellent opportunities for inter-disciplinary training for a better understanding of the complex modern world.