The Centre for Latin American Studies (CLAS) was established in July 2013 to promote research on Latin America in the University. The primary focus of the newly established Centre is to initiate and sponsor research projects, invite scholars from Latin America to speak at seminars and organize conferences. The Centre will endeavour to work with academics from the University and simultaneously tap foreign expertise through collaborative research.
All research projects undertaken by this Centre will be encouraged to adopt an inter-disciplinary or multi-disciplinary approach to generate innovative ideas. The emphasis is on comparative studies/ research between Asia Pacific and Latin America. The objective of this type of comparative research is to pursue solutions down many paths and derive lessons from the Latin American experience on various fronts for the Asia Pacific region at large (or in a narrow context, Malaysia and the ASEAN). Following from this research collaboration, the Centre seeks to build a network of Latin America scholars from various disciplines, while grooming a new breed of Malaysian scholars with expertise in the area of 'Latin America studies'.
To further enhance inter-regional scholastic activities, the Centre will encourage potential Latin America students to pursue their PhD under the Bright Sparks Programme (BSP) of the University. The admitted PhD students from Latin America through the BSP programme will contribute directly to the research activities of the Centre, as they will be guided to undertake their research in the on-going identified collaborative projects.
As the Centre evolves, it aims to become a resource unit and policy advisor to the Malaysian government, the corporate sector, and the diplomatic corps on issues relating to strategic or bilateral relations between the Asia Pacific and Latin America. The involvement of these various stakeholders will enable the Centre to blend academic inquiry with policy in the research activities. In this respect, the Centre will maintain close ties with the various Latin America Embassies and Consulates in Malaysia to seek their input on new policy initiatives, to invite visiting scholars to give seminars, exchange ideas and participate in the Centre’s activities.