Cross-Campus Exchange and Discussion in the Fall 2021 “Indo-Pacific Seminar”

Cross-Campus Exchange and Discussion in the Fall 2021 “Indo-Pacific Seminar”

This fall, Hopkins-Nanjing Center and SAIS Europe students had the opportunity to take the seminar “The Indo-Pacific: Cooperation and Contestation” instructed by Professors Hanns Maull and David Arase. As a “seminar,” the course is discussion-focused, with students coming together each week to discuss a different issue, country, or region in the Indo-Pacific. 

Professor Maull is an Adjunct Professor of International Relations at SAIS Europe and one of Germany’s leading academic foreign policy analysts, working on German foreign policy and international relations in the Indo-Pacific. 
Professor Arase is a Resident Professor of International Politics at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center, specialized on Japan, East Asia, Globalization, and International Relations. 
The Indo-Pacific Seminar marks the first course jointly-taught across the SAIS Europe and HNC campuses, with HNC Chinese students joining virtually from the Hopkins-Nanjing Center in China, HNC International students joining virtually from their homes in the US, Europe, Asia, and all over the world, and finally SAIS Europe students joining Professor Maull in-person at the Bologna campus, while also streaming into the Zoom room. 
As an HNC student in the course, I had the opportunity to interview Professor Arase about the seminar: 

When the HNC closed its doors amid the COVID-19 pandemic in Fall 2020, some students and professors had the opportunity to spend part of that semester and the Spring 2021 semester at the SAIS Europe campus in Bologna, Italy. Professor Arase gladly took advantage of that opportunity - he had attended a conference in Bologna in 2017 and visited the SAIS Europe campus then, falling in love with the architecture, food, and blue sky. When he returned to join the “HNC in exile” community in Bologna, he found the process to be fairly smooth, citing the Bologna campus’s administration and HNC staff including Deputy Director John Urban as extremely helpful in facilitating the process. 
While in Bologna he enjoyed interacting with students on campus, and found the SAIS Europe students to be very passionate about their studies. Normally a Resident Professor at the HNC teaching Chinese students, his time in Bologna revealed a gap in Chinese student-European student interaction that many students are looking to fill. In his teachings at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center he has found that most HNC Chinese students’ interests are more oriented toward the US, and few spend time thinking about or studying Europe. Yet, in recent international politics, there is a rising interest in the bilateral relationship between Europe and China, as the EU changes its thinking about China and the Indo-Pacific. Professor Arase felt Indo-Pacific studies in particular was a subject absent at SAIS Europe although there was growing interest in it among SAIS Europe students curious about Europe’s role in Asia and relationships with countries like China. 

Additionally, for the International Students at the HNC, Professor Arase’s contrasting experiences in Nanjing and Bologna exposed differences between international students across the two campuses, and opportunities for the two communities to learn from one another. When Professor Arase explored these issues with SAIS Europe Co-Director Michael Plummer, his ideas were welcomed, saying, “SAIS was looking for something like this, to promote more interaction between the campuses and foster the Bologna-HNC connection.” Professor Arase went to Professor Maull with an idea about a joint SAIS Europe-HNC Indo-Pacific studies class, as he knew Professor Maull was one of the premier experts at the Bologna campus on China and East Asia. 
About halfway into the course so far, I can say that Professors Arase and Maull’s goals for the class are being realized - I have been able to interact with, discuss, and hear perspectives from students across the two campuses and all over the world on the most pressing issues in international politics today, including security in the Taiwan Strait, US-China deteriorating relations, and security in the South China Sea. 
Beyond our set seminar time each week, students are also separated into groups composed of equal representation across the campuses and tasked with meeting outside of class to discuss an Indo-Pacific security issue. I will meet with my classmates from China, Europe, and the US next week, and I am looking forward to what will certainly be a fruitful, engaged, and lively discussion on economic interdependence in the Indo-Pacific. 

Written by Grace Faerber