The National Asian Studies Centre (NASC)


Mission Statement

The National Asian Studies Centre (NASC) strengthens regional networks, mutual understanding, and governmental capacity via roundtable discussions with visiting delegations, the convening of policy relevant seminars and conferences, the publication of readable and accessible research, and through its executive education curriculum. The executive education sphere is underpinned by a comprehensive offering of bespoke Professional Development Courses (PDCs) and accredited one and two-week Executive Short Courses (ESCs).

Testimonial: the 2 Week Executive Short Course:

… the course was exceptional. The Director, Dr Chris Roberts, put together a slate of speakers unlike any I have been exposed to … I can honestly say that I feel like a better … US Army Field Grade Officer as a result of my attendance at this course.

Delegate, United States Army

The Three Pillars of the NASC

Regional Engagement

The first foundation of the NASC is the facilitation of regional networks and mutual understanding through engagement between government executives across agencies and countries. For this purpose, the NASC represents all relevant government agencies and departments in its engagement activities ranging from private roundtables with delegations from across the Indo-Pacific and the United States to other activities such as public seminars and conferences

Professional Development Courses (PDCs)

The Centre specialises in professional development workshops and courses that can be tailored to fit agency needs – whether from Australia or across the Indo-Pacific. Areas of expertise include great power rivalry and the regional orders of East Asia and the broader Indo-Pacific; national defence planning and policy; defence and/or foreign policy leadership; aid; state capacity and governance in developing nations; non-traditional security (including pandemics, natural disasters, resource security, transnational crime and human security); and domestic and foreign policy analysis for specific countries (including India, Indonesia, Singapore, Japan, China, Taiwan, Myanmar, Brunei, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Pakistan, and the Pacific Islands). 

Executive Short Courses (ESCs)

The one week and two-week Executive Short Courses (ESCs) provide a university accredited and structured learning experience where the content is designed with postgraduate course equivalence in mind. As such, these courses can be undertaken in assessed (graded) mode or audit (ungraded) mode. Either way, as with the Professional Development Courses, delegates will receive a formal University of Canberra ‘Certificate of Completion’ and, should a course delegate elect to undertake formal assessment, an ‘academic transcript’ that may assist with admission into Postgraduate Degree such as the University of Canberra’s ‘Master of Public Administration’. Both ESCs, at the relative levels of depth, provide an interactive learning experience addressing the nexus of the economic, political, and security spheres together with the formulation of best practice policy. The facilitation of a mutual understanding is enhanced by participation on a multiagency and multinational basis.

Comparative Centre Advantages

There is a very strong need for the type of Professional Development Courses (PDPs) and Executive Short Courses (ESCs) provided by the NASC. For example, the policy-oriented nature of these two educational pillars will directly appeal to agencies seeking to build the capacity and expertise of their staff and, for the participants, those that wish to obtain the necessary skills and qualifications for career advancement. Moreover, relative to other educational institutions in the field, the NASC’s host Institute – the Institute for Governance and Policy Analysis (IGPA), together with the Faculty of Business, Government, and Law – already hold crucial advantages given they currently offers dozens of relevant graduate level courses and bring to bear the expertise of more than 100 faculty and adjuncts for the provision of education in the courses. Moreover, the Centre’s international linkages mean that leading experts from across will also be providing an ‘Asia Centric’ learning experience through their convening of key courses.

Flexibility and engagement: The provision of both accredited Executive Short Courses and Professional Development Courses that can be tailored to meet agency needs – including content and the timing of the sessions (intensive, evenings, and/or weekends) which enables Australian and international clients to better align their professional development and education with pre-existing commitments at work and at home. Meanwhile, in the Executive Short Courses, the mix of participants from government agencies across the Indo-Pacific will further enhance the knowledge concerning each nationality’s world view, political, security and development interests and needs, and comparative approaches to best practice in policy formulation.

Savings and agency needs: The extensive facilities offered in one location, the Ann Harding Conference Centre, together with extensive on-campus options for accommodation, deliver significant efficiency dividends that enable relatively lower course fees. In the context of the postgraduate degrees, given that some universities have moved towards a fulltime master’s of two years, the structure of the postgraduate degrees at the University of Canberra significantly reduce the relative costs of choosing to undertake education through the NASC and IGPA. Beyond financial savings, the Centre provides significant benefits for international participants with families as well as employers and/or potential funding agencies. Please contact the Centre to find out more.

Uniqueness and responsiveness: No Australian educational provider offers accredited and applied Executive Short Courses (ESCs) in the fields of ‘Asian studies’ and ‘security studies’ via a program that is exclusive to government agencies and other relevant stakeholders from across the Indo-Pacific. Moreover, the level of expertise affiliated with IGPA enables UC to quickly respond to agency requirements in the delivery of Professional Development Courses (PDCs), such as rapid responses to new policy announcements and developments for the purpose of the design and delivery of courses addressing needs in a near real time context.

Contact the Director by email Here 

Click here for VIRTUAL TOUR of the Ann Harding Conference Centre

Fieldtrip along the Salween River, border between Myanmar and Thailand, 2005 (Photo: C Roberts)

Welcome Message

Strengthening Regional Capacity and Cohesion through International Engagement and Executive Education on a Multinational and Multiagency Basis

Director’s Welcome

Welcome to the National Asian Studies Centre or NASC. The Centre consolidates and builds on my experience across four universities in Australia and Singapore. In line with the NASC’s mission statement, what follows is my view on the rationale behind the establishment of the NASC, the uniqueness of its offerings in regional engagement and professional education, and its place within the Institute for Governance and Policy Analysis (IGPA) at the University of Canberra.  

The Need for Greater Indo-Pacific Knowledge and Capacity

‘In a more contested and competitive world’, the 2017 Australian Foreign Policy White Paper maintains that Australia (and indeed the countries of the Indo-Pacific) will require ‘an active, determined, and innovative foreign policy built on strong domestic foundations – a flexible economic, strong defence and national security capabilities, and resilient institutions within a cohesive society.’ These goals necessitate associated policies and strategies underpinned by the necessary regional knowledge including an advanced level of mutual understanding between the Indo-Pacific countries. The need for this capacity was explicitly recognised by the 2016 Australian Defence White Paper which declared the requirement for ‘enhanced knowledge’ about the Indo-Pacific’s ‘shared strategic, political, economic, and cultural environments to enable a far stronger capacity for regional engagement and cooperation.’ 

The Three Pillars of the NASC

The National Asian Studies Centre (NASC) explicitly addresses the needs of government, embassies, and other interested stakeholders through a comprehensive approach to the interdependent pillars of enhanced engagement (e.g. roundtable policy discussions, seminars, and conferences), research and publications, and the development of governmental capacity through executive education. In the case of the latter, there are two modes of delivery: Professional Development Courses (PDCs) and accredited Executive Short Courses (ESCs) with participation on a multi-agency and multi-national basis.

Standing in Each Other’s Shoes: An Asia Centric Learning Experience

The Professional Development Courses and Executive Short Courses contribute to the unique model of education on offer by the its host Institute: The Institute for Governance and Policy Analysis (IGPA). The boutique Professional Development Courses involve 1-5 day programs on subject matter that can be rapidly tailored and delivered to meet individual agency, embassy and/or other stakeholder needs. Meanwhile, our 1 and 2-week Executive Short Courses provide a more comprehensive and structured experience that incorporates a fully accredited learning model that can potentially provide credit toward IGPA’s Master of Public Policy. The robustness of the Asia centric learning experience is achieved through the interactive sharing of peer-to-peer knowledge and the prioritisation of course contributors that have invested much of their life in the countries relevant to their expertise. Crucially, the University of Canberra, via IGPA, is the only Australian Institution to deliver such specialised education through these modes of delivery with participation from such a diverse mix of countries.

Why the NASC at the University of Canberra’s IGPA?

The Institute for Governance and Policy Analysis (IGPA) brings together over 100 specialist academics (faculty and adjunct) including key Asian countries ranging from China to the Philippines, Vietnam, and Indonesia. IGPA possesses the largest critical mass of internationally ranked governance and public policy scholars and the Institute’s eminent adjunct faculty includes 14 award-winning members of the Commonwealth Senior Executive Service and the world of political communication. The institute presently receives funding for ten Australian Research Council (ARC) projects and one of the Institute’s professors, John Dryzek, was awarded an Australian Laureate in September 2014. IGPA also manages graduate programs in public administration and public policy for the Commonwealth Departments of Agriculture, Industry, Infrastructure and Regional Development and the ACT government. Moreover, the Institute works in research and policy related partnerships with various overseas governments and international organisations including key countries in Asia (e.g. Vietnam and China) through to countries from Europe, Latin America, and Middle East.

I sincerely thank you for sparing your valuable time in reading this welcome note and I hope to have the opportunity to personally welcome you, and/or your staff, to the Centre soon.

Kind regards,

Christopher Roberts 

National Asian Studies Centre (NASC)

Institute for Governance and Policy Analysis (IGPA)
University of Canberra
B.Soc.Sc., MA (Asian Studies), PhD


The Director

Christopher Roberts has dedicated his life toward the development of an in-depth understanding of Asian politics and security as well as the cultures and perspectives of the region’s people. During this time, he has lived in Singapore, Japan, and Taiwan with extended stays in Indonesia, Vietnam, and India. Moreover, through more than 150 country visits (2017), he has conducted fieldwork in all the ASEAN countries as well as China, Japan and South Korea. Aside from his extensive research publications, reports and op-eds about the region, Christopher is very passionate about the development of knowledge, the strengthening of interpersonal communication, and the establishment closer relationships with and between the peoples and states of the Indo-pacific.

From Left to Right: Foreign Minister Raden Mohammad Marty Muliana Natalegawa, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, and Christopher Roberts (Presidential Palace, Jakarta, August 2011). 

The Executive

Director of the National Asian Studies Center (NASC), Head of the NASC’s ‘East Asia and ASEAN Program’ and conjoint Head of the ‘Indo-Pacific Strategic Issues and Major Powers Program’

Dr Christopher Roberts is the Director of the NASC where he also in charge of the Centre’s ‘East Asia and ASEAN Program’ and jointly leads the ‘Indo-Pacific Strategic Issues and Major Powers Program’ alongside Associate Professor Ashok Sharma. Christopher specializes in the politics and security of the Indo-Pacific including ASEAN, the South China Sea, the drivers and constraints to international collaboration and competition, the pre-conditions to peace and post-conflict resolution, and the impact of great and middle power dynamics on the regional order. Christopher lived in Japan and Singapore for five years and has nearly two decades of field experience throughout Asia including over 150 country visits to all the ASEAN nations plus Japan, South Korea, China, and India. This has resulted in more than fifty publications including books (2 sole authored and 2 edited), journal articles, book chapters, conference papers, commentaries, and reports. Christopher has also held various leadership positions contributing to the development of academic programs, research agendas, and outreach at the Australian National University, the University of New South Wales, and RSIS at the Nanyang Technological University (Singapore).

Head, ‘Policing, Intelligence and Counter Terrorism Program’

Professor Clive Williams is a former Australian Military Intelligence and Defence Intelligence officer. He left Defence in 2002 and has since worked at The Australian National University (ANU) and other universities in Australia and overseas, running Master’s courses in terrorism, counterterrorism, and protective security. He is also an Adjunct Professor at the University of Canberra and is a Visiting Professor at the ANU’s Centre for Military and Security Law in Canberra. Clive is a member of the International Association of Bomb Technicians and Investigators (IABTI), the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), the Australian Institute of Professional Intelligence Officers (AIPIO), and the International Academy of Investigative Psychology (AIAIP).

Head, ‘Non-Traditional and Transnational Security Program’

Dr Rita Parker is Head of the NASC’s ‘Non-Traditional and Transnational Security Program. She is also a Europa Visiting Fellow at the Australian National University and formerly managed the Australian Centre for Armed Conflict and Society (ACSACS) within the Australian Defence Force Academy campus of UNSW. Prior appointments include Distinguished Fellow (Associate Professor) at George Mason University (USA) and being a senior policy advisor to Australian Federal and State governments where she established her expertise in non-traditional security and resilience issues. Her current research on urgent global transnational security policy issues has two themes: (a) non?traditional security challenges to national resilience and (b) transnational challenges to the resilience of the liberal democratic model. She is co?editor of Global Insecurity: Futures of Chaos and Governance (Palgrave MacMillan, 2017). Recent publications include: Unregulated population migration and other future drivers of instability in the South Pacific (2018: Lowy Institute) and ‘Pandemic: Health and other risks’, in Pandemics: Prevention, Risk and Management (2018: Nova Science Publishers, New York). Rita’s research has been published in Australia, Germany, Korea, Malaysia, Singapore and USA.

Head, ‘South Asia Strategic, Security, and State Fragility Program’ and Conjoint Head of the ‘Indo-Pacific Strategic Issues and Major Powers Program’

Dr Ashok Sharma is also Deputy Chair at the New Zealand Institute of International Affairs, Auckland. Ashok specialises in international relations, global security and the Indo-Pacific strategic issues with a focus on great power geo-politics, Indian foreign and security policy, South Asia’s strategic and security issues, ethnic lobbying in the US foreign policy, and security issues mainly nuclear, terrorism and energy.  He has published more than 20 refereed research outputs, and more than 100 articles in periodicals, reviews and media, and is the author of the book Indian Lobbying and its Influence in US Decision Making: Post-Cold War (Sage Publications, 2017). He was previously a Fellow of the Australia-India Institute at the University of Melbourne, a Lecturer at the University Auckland, and a Fellow of that NZIRI within the Victoria University of Wellington. Prior to moving to Australia in 2008, he was a lecturer at Delhi University and worked with New Delhi- based strategic and foreign policy think tanks.

Head, ‘Asia, Indonesia and the Pacific Islands Governance Program’

Dr Stephen Sherlock is a specialist on Indonesian politics, with long experience working in Indonesia on training, research projects and capacity-building programs in the Indonesian parliament, government ministries, CSOs and political parties. He is a former Director of the Centre for Democratic Institutions (CDI). Dr Sherlock has worked for the World Bank, UNDP, ADB, AusAID/DFAT, USAID, DFID, GIZ, the Asia Foundation, international NGOs, democracy promotion institutes and political party foundations from Germany, US and UK. He has worked closely with Indonesian organisations active in the field of electoral and legislative affairs, including CETRO, Perludem, PSHK and Formappi, and has published widely on Indonesian governance, parliaments, elections, electoral systems and political parties.


Boutique Courses 

The Professional Development Courses below are listed by Division/Program Stream and what follows within are predesigned course packages that can be tailored (both in terms of content and length) to suit individual agency needs.

Every course is delivered on a policy relevant basis by a leading expert and/or experts in the field. These experts come from Australia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, Japan, India, and the United States.

These courses can be convened as part of a larger package or as a stand-alone course. All the listed courses are offered at the University of Canberra and, where relevant and feasible, can also be convened for governments/agencies in other countries.

  1. Indo-Pacific Strategic Issues and Major Powers Program
  2. East Asia and ASEAN Program
  3. Politics and Governance in Asia, Indonesia, and the Pacific Program
  4. South Asia Strategic, Security, and State Fragility Program
  5. Non-Traditional and Transnational Security Program
  6. Policing, Intelligence, and Counter Terrorism Program

Executive Short Courses

The only accredited courses dedicated to a multiagency and multinational cohort

The NASC Executive Short Courses (ESCs) are offered in both graded (i.e. assessed) and non-graded (i.e. audit) modes. The incorporation of both modes in a single classroom environment is designed to utilise participation from a more representative mix of agencies and countries across the Indo-Pacific. Participants who are enrolled in an assessed mode will receive an academic transcript and can potentially utilise this document to support later admission (and potential credit) into the executive Graduate Certificate and/or the Master of Public Administration and, potentially, a proposed Graduate Diploma/Graduate Certificate/Master of Security and International Relations. These ESCs are tailored for, but not exclusive to, Australian government ‘APS’ and ‘executive’ levels and international equivalents. The unique learning experience in the Executive Short Courses is provided through an interactive approach that draws on the collective knowledge and expertise of participants from a broad range of agencies and countries. This peer to-peer learning experience will occur through structured discussions, case studies, and participant presentations; all of which are designed to reinforce the development of highly skilled scholar-practitioners in national security and policy making. This approach will also facilitate the creation of relationships, on an inter-agency and international basis, with the potential to improve intergovernmental relations and collaboration in the future.

  1. Indo-Pacific Security Challenges and Comparative Policy Approaches (1 and 2-week options)
  2. Southeast Asia’s Politics, Economies and Cultures: The Implications of Complexity and Diversity (1 and 2-week options)

Center for Southeast Asian Studies (CSEAS), Indonesia

The Center for Southeast Asian Studies was formally established in 2005 as an independent institution and with specific focus on Southeast Asia. The Center collaborates with other area programs in global and comparative research and activities. The Center had three divisions: (1) the division of economic studies; (2) the division of socio-cultural studies; and (3) the division of politics and strategic studies. The Center provides support for research, conferences, workshops, seminars, and study groups. It welcomes visiting scholars who wish to conduct their research on Southeast Asia in Indonesia, and encourages collaboration with other Southeast Asian research institutes worldwide.

In 2016, CSEAS became a member of United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Networks (UN-SDSN). The UN Sustainable Development Solutions Net- work (UN-SDSN) has been operating under the auspices of the UN Secretary-General. SDSN mobilizes global scientific and technological expertise to promote practical solutions for sustainable development, including the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

In 2017 CSEAS became a member of Asia Consortium of Non-Traditional Security Studies in Asia (NTS-Asia). The NTS-Asia Consortium is a network of non-traditional security research institutes and think tanks in Asia Pacific.?On the commemoration of 50 years of ASEAN, our Center conducted research on Human Rights and Labour Migration across ASEAN in 6 ASEAN countries. The results include a positive contribution on the issues of regional migration in ASEAN, especially on the issue of social protection of low skilled migrant workers across ASEAN.

We have three priority are in 2018 including Maritime Security in ASEAN (IUU Fishing and South China Sea), Migration in ASEAN and Sustainability in ASEAN (Marine Plastic Pollution). One of our priority areas is sustainability regarding the issue of on marine debris in the ASEAN countries, especially plastic waste. We work closely with the Division of Environment at the ASEAN Secretariat, Jakarta, on best practice concerning the management of plastic pollution in ASEAN.

Our activities also focus on how translate the 17 Goals of Sustainable Development Goals into the regional level and achieve the implementation of the ASEAN Community Vision 2025 and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in ASEAN in ways that complement and reinforce each other.