The “Asian MetaCentre”

The Greek word ‘meta’ (engl. ‘above’) stands for something that binds things together at a higher level. In this sense, one speaks of “meta-analysis” when findings from different specific studies are being compared in order to gain a more general insight. The Asian MetaCentre hence aims at strengthening the synergy between existing population studies centres around Asia through the connected platform, training courses, topical workshops, projects development and frequent interaction among scientists working on population, health and sustainable development. It brings together different institutes, encouraging international collaborations and skills transfer.

The Asian MetaCentre is a research programme that aims to develop research initiatives on themes pertaining to population, sustainable development and health such as population forecasting, international migration, family structures and Asian family, population-development-environment-health interactions, fertility, intergenerational relations, aging, human capital, urbanization, environmental degradation and the consequences of these population dynamics on human well-being and health. In doing so, the Asian MetaCentre strives to develop the Asian Population Network (APN), organise relevant workshops, provide training for skills development, engage in research projects, and subsequently publish research findings.

The Asian MetaCentre carries out various activities largely based on online collaborations as well as research and training workshops to do demographic research and the analysis of population dynamics.

Our foci includes:

l   population-development-environment-health interactions at the regional level,

l   rapid urbanisation, urbanism and health in Asia

l   demographic change, migration and the Asian family, and their impacts on social and psychological wellbeing

Our activities comprises a number of activity spheres:

1) The Asian Population Network (APN)

The Asian Population Network is a broad network of population institutions, scientists, demographers, population experts and individuals interested in population and health issues from academic institutions, government agencies and private organisations internationally. It sets out to encourage academic interaction amongst Asian scholars, build research capacity and advance research methodologies, in-depth case studies and collaborative research in the region. The APN is largely based on the online interaction and acts as a window for the communications of research and information on population and health issues. It will also be an important platform for the recruitment of experts and participants to meetings and training courses. The APN is co-sponsored with the International Union for Scientific Study of Population (IUSSP), contributing to the quick and efficient start and build-up of a broad and international network.

2) APN Research Workshops

APN research workshops are a series of high-level expert meetings (2-3 days each) organised around specific themes relating to population and health. They bring together individual scholars within the network and other distinguished scientists working in the field. The research workshops serve the multiple purposes of strengthening academic and scientific exchanges among Asian scholars in the field, as well as exchanges between Asian and non-Asian scholars. The workshops will address pertinent research topics and provide an opportunity for the critical review of research methods and findings. APN research workshops are also expected to strengthen collaboration among existing population studies centres in the region. Most of the APN research workshops are expected to result in refereed books based on the best contributions to the workshops.

3) APN Training Workshops and Summer Courses

The Asian MetaCentre has a strong training capability to satisfy the great demand for intensive training both in the more advanced techniques of demographic analysis and in the new methods for interdisciplinary systems analysis. Training is offered through intensive 2-week “hands-on” courses and a 5-week summer workshop for scientists affiliated with the collaborating Asian research centres and other interested and qualified individuals from the region. Training is consolidated under our training centre based within the premises of the College of Population Studies, Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok.

4) Research Projects

To date, a number of projects have been organised under the auspices of the Asian MetaCentre. Set in various Asian contexts, project themes range from migration and fertility, to the utilisation of health services, and the consequences of population change. In February 2002, the research project ‘Population Changes and Land Degradation in Xinjiang, China‘ was awarded a grant from the Wellcome Trust for a period of 3 years. This project was conceived collaboratively by Dr Jiang Leiwen of Peking University (Principal Investigator), Dr Tong Yufen from Xinjiang University and the Asian MetaCentre for Population and Sustainable Development Analysis through a series of workshops and meetings in 2000 and 2001.