University Course to Help Build a Regional Identity for ASEAN Youth

Students across ASEAN will soon be able to enroll in undergraduate courses that specifically focus on ASEAN issues and history.  A seminar concluded on Friday in Kuala Lumpur, training professors from university members of the ASEAN University Network (AUN) on how to conduct a new ASEAN Studies Course for undergraduate students.

“This training workshop marks the final stage of development for the ASEAN Studies Course for undergraduate students, which the AUN and senior faculty from member universities have been developing since 2009,” said Dr. Choltis Dhirathiti, the Deputy Executive Director of the AUN. “We have 40 participants here from throughout ASEAN who will be able to return to their respective universities equipped to begin teaching the course. In addition we are recording sessions on video to be uploaded to the AUN website in order share with universities to aid future online training,” he added.

The ASEAN Studies Course, which is expected to become available to prospective students next year, will include class modules on the history of ASEAN, the concept of regionalism, the ASEAN institutional framework, cultural identity, human development in the different member states, environmental issues, disaster management, economic competitiveness and integration, rural connectivity, governance, human rights, peace and conflict management, human trafficking and migrant workers, popular culture, transnational crime and terrorism.

“This is one the most important steps ASEAN can take – to both educate students on what ASEAN is and how it works, as well as to instill a sense of ASEAN citizenship and opportunities during these critical years of higher learning and career preparation,” said Ambassador David L. Carden, U.S. Ambassador to ASEAN.  The development of the ASEAN Studies Course was funded by the U.S. Government through the ASEAN-U.S. Technical Assistance and Training Facility in collaboration with the AUN.  The U.S. also supported a toolkit about ASEAN for use in primary and secondary school classrooms.

“The course is designed to be sensitive to differences across the region while examining the historical, political, security, economic and sociocultural issues that have led to the emergence of a regional ASEAN identity” said Dr. Azmi Mat Akhir from the Asia-Europe Institute at the University of Malaya. “It will be a course designed for delivery over a 15-16 week period that introduces students to ASEAN and the topics that fall under each of its three pillars: Political Security, Economic, and Sociocultural.”

The course modules each offer an abundance of materials in order to allow flexibility for each institution in the way they choose to teach the course. “AUN member universities will be able to pick and choose from the various materials in the modules when designing their courses so that they can conduct classes based on their strengths and knowledge base,” said one of the course developers, Prof. Dr. Heddy Shri Ahimsa Putra from Gadjah Mada University in Yogyakarta, Indonesia.

The details of the finalized course modules will be made available through the AUN website (