Back in 1991, when the late Louis Frieberg expressed his insightful conviction about the emerging global importance of East Asian region, and China in particular, in the global economy and world affairs, he initiated a plan to endow the Department of East Asian Studies. This was an exceptionally bold vision for its time and fifteen years later, much of this vision has become a reality as the Louis Frieberg Center of East Asian Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem was established in Fall 2006. This center is operating within the faculty of humanities, adjacent to the long established Department of East Asian Studies.
The Center has set itself the ambitious goal of establishing the Hebrew University as a national and a world-renowned hub of East Asian Studies. The Center, through its activities, aims to pool together scholars from different departments and faculties within the Hebrew University, from the Israeli scholarly community, and from abroad and catalyzes high level interdisciplinary research, focusing on history of East Asia, its cultures, and its traditional and contemporary societies and political structures.
In order to achieve these goals, the Center focuses on:
- Development of human resources – The Center works to attract young scholars who could eventually become members of the teaching staff at the Hebrew University, especially through its post-doctoral fellowship support. In addition, it tries to attract established and well known scholars in the field of East Asian studies to come to the Hebrew University either to teach for a year (or one term) or to conduct workshops and give seminars.
- Catalyzing research – The Center competitively allocates seed money to support innovative research on East Asia. In addition, it initiates and supports workshops and conferences at the Hebrew University that bring together scholars form different disciplines, from the Hebrew University and from the outside, to address specific research topics. The center also provides some support for the publication of research done at the Hebrew University, creating and disseminating a working paper series.
- Improving research infrastructure – The Center works hard to improve the research infrastructure for East Asian Studies at the Hebrew University. Its major project, launched soon after its establishment was the creation of Asian Languages Library within the framework of the Central Library for Humanities and Social Sciences, Mt. Scopus. Books and databases acquired by the new Library had revolutionized research possibilities for Israeli students and scholars working in the field of East Asian studies. For more about this project see here.
- Scholarships - The Center initiated a special post-doc scholarship which allows selected scholars to establish themselves and publish their research while at the same time interact with their colleagues and students at the Hebrew University. The Center also supports exceptionally gifted research students. Its scholarships and grant senable our most promising students to acquire or hone important skills – languages or research abilities – and free them to concentrate on their research.
- Ties – The Center works to improve ties between the Hebrew University and universities and research institutes in East Asia. As research facilities of the highest international levels are rapidly developing in East Asian countries, the Center aims to facilitate a better cooperation with those centers, including exchange of post-doctoral students and establishing research groups not only in the Humanities and Social Sciences but also in the Natural and Experimental Sciences in Agriculture and in Medicine. The Center will also collect data and other information that will be of help to relevant departments, especially in the experimental and natural sciences, and search for potential collaborations. The Center will also be available for consultation to departments and individuals seeking to initiate contacts or evaluate the academic level of East Asian institutes.
- Public events – The center supports public events to promote understanding of East Asian cultures in Israel. It organizes seminars and workshops for Israeli policy-makers, business persons and diplomats, and initiates various cultural events. The center also looks for other ways to reach the general Israeli public through activities related to the history and cultures of East Asia.