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[ 26 ] asia policy A Human Capital Wish List Davis B. Bobrow My wish list of preparations for future cohorts of Western experts on Asia follows from particular views about the attributes those experts should have. The list no doubt reflects the skills and assets I have found helpful and the deficits I have found to be hindrances. The future experts of special interest to me will engage in the practice of applied, policyrelated work with the hope of informing, influencing, and rationalizing government, business, NGO, and media decisions. They will practice their craft in relation to current decisionmakers and their staffs and will prepare non-specialists who in the future, as they have in the past, often will make and shape U.S. decisions on matters pertinent to Asia. Starting Points Two general assumptions about the context in which those experts will function have important implications for what will make them wise and valuable, and thus special in a positive sense.1 My first assumption is that the next generation of experts on Asia will be professionally active for 40 or so years, like their immediate predecessors. Our ability to recommend wisely very specific preparations for that long a career seems modest—after all, think about what a roundtable such as this would have stipulated in 1969. What is certain with a multi-decade time perspective is uncertainty about the when and what of many aspects of Asian futures and Western cause-and-effect connections to them. The future experts of special interest to me will add value to the extent that they can adapt to uncertainties about who and what matters, anticipate what at 1 I leave it to others to assess the extent to which current and emerging steps to prepare those future experts appear appropriate and sufficient and to explore the reasons for any deficiencies. Others no doubt will point out (and in large measure correctly so) the by now familiar sins of inadequate student aid funding, transient foundation priorities, unappreciative university administrators, disciplinary snobbishness toward area studies, and intellectually lazy and politically opportunistic policymakers. They will as well, I hope, point out area studies practitioners’ not infrequent disdain for social science methods and theories, greater affection for liberal arts faculties than for those of professional schools, and avoidance or unawareness of questions preoccupying policymakers. davis b. bobrow is Professor (emeritus) of Public and International Affairs at the University of Pittsburgh. He has advised major U.S. government international affairs organizations and held visiting academic appointments in Japan, China, and Australia. His most recent book is Hegemony Constrained: Evasion, Modification, and Resistance to American Foreign Policy (2008). He can be reached at . [ 27 ] roundtable • training the next generation the time are surprising changes and surprising continuities, and address futures of very different temporal extent. The chances that their potential to add value will be realized will increase if these experts understand the sorts of non-Asian and non-academic organizational and situational realities impinging on those they advise and educate.2 My second assumption is that future Western experts on Asia will operate in a far more competitive and demanding environment given that those they seek to inform, influence, and educate are themselves more familiar with Asia. We have in many respects passed from an era of information scarcity about Asia and perceived remoteness from Asia to one of information abundance and virtual (and physical) accessibility. There now are few or very low barriers to finding basic factual information of an aggregate kind (albeit perhaps less than fully accurate), exposing oneself to mass culture and consumption fads, viewing built and natural environments, or even obtaining computer translations of indigenous language text. In the future there will be a larger supply of persons with some basic competence in major Asian languages, be they Asian-Americans from bi- or multilingual homes, students exposed to Asian languages in K-12 and undergraduate courses, or young professionals with life experience in Asia, such as study abroad, internships, or work for NGOs and firms. Such are the continuing consequences of the United States’ demographic multiculturalism and the rise of Asia in the world economy and international affairs. Beyond the previously mentioned certainty...


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