Converting university knowledge into a tool for diplomacy
Asialink Diplomacy contributes to high-level conference on academic diplomacy in Asia.
From 14-16 September, Asialink Diplomacy heard from academic leaders about the future of diplomacy and research collaboration in Asia. At a high-level conference organised by Our Lady of Fatima University in the Philippines, Asialink Diplomacy Director, Erin Watson-Lynn, delivered a keynote address on the opportunity for universities in track II dialogue.
Image: Professor Datuk Dr. Noor Azlan Ghazali (Chairperson, University Mobility in Asia and the Pacific; Vice Chancellor, National University of Malaysia), Dr. Caroline Marian S. Enriquez) President of Our Lady of Fatima University, Senator Win Gatchalian.
The conference explored the role of the tertiary sector in regional diplomacy, and was formally opened by Filipino Senator Sherwin T. Gatchalian. At a time of crisis on the Korean peninsula and continuing uncertainty over US-China relations, there is a demand for creative ways to strengthen trust and cooperation in Australia-Asia relations.
In addition to these challenges, new technology is intersecting with the rising demand of the middle class in many regional countries. This creates a more disruptive diplomatic environment which is limiting policy initiative and adding new layers of complexity to foreign and trade policy.
As Erin explained in her address, Asialink has closely collaborated with track II initiatives like the Asia Pacific Roundtable and networks like the Council of Security and Cooperation in the Asia-Pacific to build regional networks of policy expertise. With a wider range of technical knowledge and industry connections, academic leaders in the tertiary sector can also help to drive this agenda forward.
During the conference, Erin also participated in a panel discussion with Professor Datuk Dr. Noor Azlan Ghazali (Chairperson, University Mobility in Asia and the Pacific; Vice Chancellor, National University of Malaysia), and Ambassador Laura Quimbao (President, Pax Et Lumen International Academy; Former Philippine Ambassador to India). These and other distinguished speakers called for the tertiary sector to share different perspectives and to build on common areas of understanding.
The challenge for track II dialogue is to develop expert thinking in areas where international law and diplomatic norms are still nascent. With universities looking to build new research partnerships, there is a valuable opportunity for academic voices to generate new ideas. In particular, Erin identified digital and cyber policy as a promising area which Asialink and the University of Melbourne will explore in future dialogues.