Our story

In the Asian Century in which we’re living, the ANU College of Asia and the Pacific is one of the world's leading centres for teaching and research on the region – a position we’ve been working on since the century before.

The College has its roots in the University’s Research School of Pacific Studies and the School of Oriental Languages, founded in 1946 and 1952 respectively. The Research School was a founding institution of ANU, established to drive Australia’s engagement and understanding of its neighbourhood, as well as establish the University as a global centre of excellence in research, teaching and influence on Asia and the Pacific. The School of Oriental Languages was established to train diplomats and public servants in Chinese, and later Japanese, Bahasa Indonesia and Malay. Ten years later, the School became the ground-breaking Faculty of Asian Studies, the first and only faculty at an Australian university dedicated to a regional specialisation.

By 1968 Asian and Pacific studies at ANU were booming; enrolments in Indonesian had overtaken those in French, and the University Library had built up one of the best Asian collections in the world. Global acclaim was secured for the Faculty in 1971, when it hosted the International Congress of Orientalists, attended by 1,200 international experts.

Teaching expertise and academic excellence have been cornerstones of Asian and Pacific studies at ANU since these early days. The University is proud to include among its former teaching staff Sir John Crawford, a pioneer in the building of an Asia Pacific economic and policy community; AL Basham, author of what remains today the most widely-used introduction to Indian civilisation; Stephen Wurm, the world’s foremost expert on the languages of New Guinea; and Hedley Bull, a key scholar on international relations.

From these visionaries and strong foundations, the College has grown today to host the largest assembly of regional experts in the English-speaking world. We have the widest range of courses on Asia and the Pacific in Australia, and offer the largest number of Asian and Pacific language programs. Reaching out to the region and the world, the College is the centre for Australia’s and intellectual engagement with the societies, cultures, economies and worlds of thought of Asia and the Pacific.

Among the University’s academic colleges, the ANU College of Asia and the Pacific remains unique for its regional focus. But, unlike the great majority of other geographically-dedicated faculties around the world, the College has preserved a commitment to disciplinary strength, particularly in political science, economics, history, anthropology, law, archaeology and linguistics, with an enviable international standing across all these disciplines.

Building on our impressive history, today our teaching staff still includes preeminent academics recognised internationally as leaders in their field – including Professor Hugh White, Australia’s leading analyst on strategy and intelligence; Professor Hilary Charlesworth, world-renowned expert on international law and human rights; and Professor Nicholas Evans, a leading linguistics expert who is working tirelessly save endangered languages across the globe.

With the College’s focus on Asia and the Pacific more relevant now than ever before, ANU is indisputably the best place to prepare the next generation of regional specialists for the challenges of this century, and Australia’s place in it.

Updated:  14 December, 2012/Responsible Officer:  Dean, ANU College of Asia & the Pacific/Page Contact:  CAP Web Team