The Sigur Center for Asian Studies is a university research institute and the academic home of the Asian Studies Program of the Elliott School of International Affairs at The George Washington University. Its mission is to increase the quality and broaden the scope of scholarly research and publication on Asia, promote US-Asian scholarly interaction and educate a new generation of students, scholars, analysts, and policymakers.
The Sigur Center promotes research and policy analysis on East Asia, Northeast Asia, Southeast Asia and South Asia through an active program of publishing, teaching, public events and policy engagement. The Center offers students the largest Asian Studies program in the Washington, DC metropolitan region, with around 70 faculty members working on Asia. The Center was founded in 1991 out of the Sino-Soviet Institute. It was named for Gaston Sigur (1924-1995), a Japan specialist with a long career at The George Washington University, the National Security Council, and the US Department of State. It has enjoyed status as a signature program of the university since 2003.
Providing Intellectual Leadership on Asia
The Asian Studies faculty at GW -- which includes leading specialists in East, Southeast, and South Asia -- is one of the largest of any university in the United States. Adjunct faculty are drawn from the community, including government officials, think tank researchers, members of the business community, and other regional experts. Faculty publish scholarly and policy-oriented research on a wide variety of issues, serve as consultants to government and private industries in the United States and abroad, and regularly provide expert commentary to the international media.
Advancing Research and Education
The Center and its scholars have received a variety of grants and gifts that advance our research, education and outreach.
- The Sigur Center launched the Rising Powers Initiative in fall 2009 under the leadership of co-principal investigators Deepa Ollapally, Henry Nau, and Mike Mochizuki. The Initiative has received two grants from the Carnegie Corporation of New York, one from the MacArthur Foundation, two from the GWU Office of the Vice President for Research, and one from the Elliott School of International Affairs. These six awards total more than $1.3 million. The Rising Powers Initiative has held six international conferences so far — two in Beijing, two in New Delhi, one in Moscow, and one in Washington, DC. Please visit the Initiative's website and blog, and follow us on Twitter for the latest updates on our research, publications, and outreach.
- David Shambaugh spent the 2010-11 academic year in Beijing, China on a Senior Fulbright Fellowship from the Department of State. He has been affiliated with the Institute of World Economics and Politics at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (Beijing).
- For 2010–11, Professor Alasdair Bowie was also awarded a Fulbright fellowship, which he will spend in Vietnam. A grant from the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office funds multiple conferences and round-tables each year, including two events on cross-strait relations.
- As a signature program of George Washington University, the Sigur Center has received supplemental funding that enables us to provide faculty travel and research awards as well as scholarships and field study grants to undergraduate and graduate students. With this money, as well as support from the Department of Education, TECRO, the Carnegie Corporation, the MacArthur Foundation, we supported a remarkable 41 students and faculty members with $364,887 total in grants, fellowships, and travel awards.
In terms of distinctions, we were particularly proud to see that Professor Bruce Dickson won the 2010 Oscar and Shoshana Trachtenberg Teaching Prize.
Supporting Student Achievement
Fellowships and Grants
In 2011-2012 alone, the Sigur Center for Asian Studies awarded $138,530 for fellowship support to 11 students to travel to five Asian countries. This included nine research and language awards for the Summer 2012, and two GRAs. The Sigur Center has awarded more than $1,000,000 to 105 undergraduate and graduate students in fellowship support over the last five years. As well, the Center maintains an extensive list fellowships and grants available for students.
The Sigur Center for Asian Studies is housed in the Elliott School of International Affairs, and is home to the Elliott School's Asian Studies Program. It has been recognized by The George Washington University as a GW Center for Academic Excellence since 2003. The program offers both BA and MA degrees in Asian Studies. The International Affairs BA and MA programs also offer concentrations in Asian Studies. Joint degree programs with the Business School (MBA/MA) or Law School (JD/MA) are available. There is a Masters of International Policy and Practice (MIPP) degree for mid-career professionals, with a concentration in Asian Studies. Languages available for Elliott School students include Chinese, Japanese, and Korean. The Center takes an active role in supporting student language by hosting weekly Language Tea Times.
Increasing Engagement: Expanding Awareness and Dialogue on Asia
Lectures, Seminars & Conferences
The Sigur Center hosts approximately 70 events annually, including conferences, lectures, seminars, roundtables, and forums on a range of issues in Asian affairs. These conferences are held in Washington, DC and abroad, bringing together scholars and policy-makers to discuss timely matters in Asian affairs. More than 2,000 students, faculty, government officials, journalists, NGO, and industry representatives attend these events on average each year. In particular, the Center holds a Faculty Lecture Series; Transnational Asia Lecture Series; and Subnational Asia Lecture Series. The Sigur Center has special interest in Taiwan and cross-Strait relations and holds numerous events exploring these issues each year.
Asian Studies in DC
The George Washington University is located in the heart of Washington, D.C., just blocks from the White House and the World Bank. The Sigur Center for Asian Studies is housed in new facilities on E Street, located right near the U.S. Department of State. The National Mall is just a short walk away and houses, among other attractions, the world-renowned Asian collections of the Freer Gallery of Art and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery. The Library of Congress, just a short Metro ride away, has some of the world's richest and most extensive collections of Asian materials. Washington is, of course, also home to myriad research institutions and non-profits, many of which focus on Asian issues. All of these resources are easily accessible to students and Visiting Scholars alike.
Additionally, as is fitting for a global capital, Washington boasts a tremendously diverse populace. The metropolitan area now counts over 300,000 residents of Asian descent. The immigration of Vietnamese, Koreans, and Chinese has been particularly marked, but the area also boasts large numbers of Indians. Many Filipinos are scattered about the region as well, not to mention smaller numbers of other groups (e.g. Thais, Burmese, Nepalese, Japanese, and Pakistanis).
This influx of persons of Asian descent has altered the landscape of Washington, D.C., as well as its suburbs. Numerous Asian churches, Hindu and Buddhist temples, and other social and cultural institutions can be found in the area. Last but not least, Washington is a great place for Asian food. While it is easy to dine in Vietnamese, Thai and Chinese establishments here, the area is also home to Nepalese, Burmese, Pakistani, Afghan, Japanese, Malaysian, and Indonesian restaurants as well.
Clearly, for those with a taste for Asian food, culture, and scholarship, Washington has a great deal to offer. When combined with the academic excellence of the Sigur Center's Asian Studies programs, any Asianist should find the city practically irresistable.