Can Asia Lead the World?

prof danny- acting dean- about us

The time for Asia is now. For years, the world’s economic centre has been pulling away from the West. While some might argue who will take America’s place as the engine of the world economy, the facts are clear and undisputed. According to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, Asia is and will continue to be the world’s fastest-growing region, with China and India leading the charge. By 2050, these two countries will become the world’s largest economies. The world’s economic centre will be in Asia. A new world order is taking shape, definitely economically but potentially politically as well.

In this re-assignment of global leadership, the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy (LKYSPP), part of the National University of Singapore, will continue to inspire, improve lives, and take central position in the conversation to transform Asia. We do this by working hard on two planks: pursuing academic and intellectual excellence, and crafting lessons for meaningful public policy-making.

Professor Kishore Mahbubani, the school’s Founding Dean, has produced outstanding results in this regard. In his years as Dean since the School was founded in 2004, LKYSPP has flourished to become one of the world’s most respected schools of public policy.

Our valuable partnerships have resulted in productive collaborations with other leading global institutions. Our active and diverse faculty contribute op-ed articles to widely-read publications. Governments in Asia look to us for advice. In 2017, we co-organised the prestigious International Conference on Public Policy, attended by more than 1,300 participants from over 70 countries.

Housed in the beautiful and lush Singapore Botanic Gardens, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, our campus includes four vibrant research centres. Their research and in-depth case studies touch every aspect of public policy in Asia, from geopolitics, water management and urban planning, public housing and healthcare, and economic competitiveness, to education and the environment.

This year, we continue to build on Prof Mahbubani’s legacy by introducing two innovations – first, a two-year Master in International Affairs programme, offering a sharper focus on foreign policy; and the Lee Kuan Yew School Course. The latter is a compulsory module for Masters students in all the English language programmes at LKYSPP, cultivating a shared academic experience while delivering valuable lessons from the Singapore story, set against a background of Asia’s development.

Indeed, we will continue to draw precious knowledge and experience from the country’s best minds in public policy – whether as part of our faculty, guest lecturers, or as collaborators with our researchers – to pursue and develop both world-changing ideas and everyday practical solutions for this historical era.

Yet, despite being a Singapore institution, LKYSPP has a very diverse student population. Twenty percent of our students are from Singapore; the remaining eighty percent from all corners of the world. This not only adds to the richness of our classroom discussions, but also provides networking opportunities outside the walls of academia and beyond our shores. The school has graduated close to 2,700 individuals from 80 countries and territories, equipping them with genuine insight on Asia and the world.

Such knowledge and understanding on Asia and its place in the world will be critical in this time of transition. Against the backdrop of a rising Asia, LKYSPP offers the best of Asian pragmatism and Western learning. The time for Asia is now.

Professor Danny Quah
Dean and Li Ka Shing Professor in Economics