“To Open Minds, To Educate Intelligence, To Inform Decisions”
The International Academic Forum (IAFOR) provides new perspectives to the thought leaders and decision-makers of today and tomorrow by offering constructive environments for dialogue and interchange at the intersections of nation, culture, and discipline.
Headquartered in Japan, with offices in Nagoya and Kobe, IAFOR is an independent think tank committed to the deeper understanding of contemporary geo-political transformation, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region.
Institutional History & Mission
The International Academic Forum (IAFOR) is a confederation of leaders and opinion formers around the globe who have one thing in common: a desire to make a difference. It was founded in 2009 by a small group of concerned Asian, European and North American academics and business professionals as a mission-driven politically independent organisation dedicated to providing and promoting meaningful dialogue irrespective of international borders. As the Asia-Pacific region emerges as a new and powerful center of world events to rival the traditional European-American hegemonic axis, different and conflicting nationalistic fears and domestic political interests often dictate negative foreign policies. The stakes for ensuring cooperation between the Asian states and the Western world has never been higher.
Since its founding, IAFOR has been committed to ensuring that Asian leaders and opinion formers in both the public and private sectors, in education, the media, and business, have had the chance to meet their colleagues in other countries, and discuss issues of national and international relevance and importance.
Through its international, intercultural and interdisciplinary conferences, research and publications, IAFOR has become the network hub for information exchange across Asia and beyond; connecting individuals and institutions across the globe, and the thought leaders of today with those of tomorrow.
Academic Vision & Mission
The vision of IAFOR grew out of the perceived need to fill a vacuum in the communication and exchange activities of the academic world. Its mission arose out of examining that space and investigating why it existed. The vacuum existed because of the lack of opportunity for serious and thoughtful exchange between academics, members of the global business community, and practitioners in the fields of human endeavor that linked these groups together. In the field of education, for example, we have academic theorists, educational managers (political decision-makers and organisational directors) and classroom teachers with their support staff in IT, library work, exchange programs, and specialist fields. But how often do they have the opportunity to interact?
Moving beyond one particular field, larger questions arise. What function should universities prioritise in the 21st century? What do businesses see as their contribution to social and global well being? How can people on the ground, trying to implement improvements that will transform human life, best be supported? And perhaps above all, what are the agendas that will drive mechanisms to enable these groups to interact effectively.
One piece of distilled thought that came from early exchanges at one of our conferences was the recognition that some of the rhetoric of concern about the problems of developing nations was perhaps over-focused on the term “poverty” because it can be defined only in a relative way. “Hunger” was put forward as being more immediate and itself a contributory factor to poverty, rather than the other way round. One key to the hunger issue could be the provision of safe drinking water, or water for irrigation in some contexts, while flood management might be necessary elsewhere. These, in and by themselves become valuable only insofar as they help to relieve hunger in specific contexts.
IAFOR is affording opportunities that do not exist elsewhere. The base is the beautiful city of Kobe, nestled between the mountains and the sea and in the culturally and historically rich Kansai region, which includes neighbouring Osaka, and nearby Kyoto and Nara. Our conferences present those taking part with three unique dimensions of experience. First of all, it encourages interdisciplinary activity to be expanded. Depending on the field, this can face varying degrees of difficulty, ranging from discouragement to downright prohibition. Those overly dependent on fixed academic structures often see lateral thinking as a threat. None of these negatives apply in IAFOR. Its purpose is to generate new approaches that cross any disciplinary lines. The principle employed is to let the imagination permit intuitive responses to questions. There are no panels of critics. There are simply people who want to listen and reflect. The model of academic work as potholing is replaced by the metaphor of mountaineering. While respecting the need for solid and well-founded academic work, we feel the need to go beyond it from time to time to discover fresh approaches to old questions.
Secondly, it facilitates the heightening of intercultural awareness. Again, we encourage innovation through cross-cultural perception. Cultural roots influence people in their attitudes more than most would realise or admit. The need to see and internalise insights gained from other viewpoints is met by a process of steady illumination.
Thirdly, it promotes the broadening of international exchange. We may live in a globalised world, but in reality parochialism still holds sway. The collapse of the U.S.S.R and the break-up of Yugoslavia led to the re-establishment of numerous former countries. While this may be desirable for the peoples concerned, it merely adds to the world’s cultural confusion. Exchange leads to explanation and that helps the growth of intercultural awareness.
IAFOR makes all of these developments possible in one gathering. Our conferences are not a substitute for specialist conferences. We intend our events to be an alternative that functions as a balance or even a corrective to the extreme tendencies that can arise from more narrowly defined research parameters. In short, IAFOR is promoting and facilitating a new multifaceted approach to one of the core issues of our time, namely globalisation and its many forms of growth and expansion. Awareness of how it cuts across the worlds of business, and academia, along with its impact on societies and institutions is one of the driving forces that has given the organisation its momentum, and is making it a pioneer in this global age.
Present Core Activities
IAFOR exists to enlighten thought and inform policy regarding contemporary issues that transcend disciplines, cultures and national boundaries. It focuses on Asian issues, as well as global issues from an Asian perspective.
The organisation structure leverages strong academic leadership and a minimalist professional staff to activate and support content development and peer review by a large, active and growing international volunteer delegate base of academics, policy-makers and other concerned and informed global citizens. IAFOR provides forums and filters through which ideas from thought leaders interact with empirical evidence, rigorous methodology and reasoned judgment, and then advocates on behalf of the best of those ideas.
The primary activities of The International Academic Forum are as follows:
1. Facilitating Dialogue & Information Exchange
IAFOR organises academic conferences with the support of some of the world’s leading universities, as well as institutions in both the private and the public sector. Our events are ‘International, Intercultural, Interdisciplinary and Inter-professional’, and speakers include prominent thought leaders from varied backgrounds. Currently, we hold events in Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and North America designed to be of interest to academics, business persons, government officials, media professionals and other concerned global leaders and opinion formers. We build alliances with an international network of leading Asian and global institutions, organisations and corporations, and operate as the network hub in higher education in and between Asian countries, and between Asian countries and those in other continents.
2. Facilitating & Promoting Research
We support original research, and facilitate and encourage research partnerships on an individual and institutional level, and are engaged with various partner organisations to provide appropriate event, online and publishing platforms for its dissemination. Through our commitment to quality open-access publishing, IAFOR archives all documentation and research produced in association with its conferences and seminars and makes it publicly and available through the IAFOR website.
3. Research, Consulting and Advocacy
Through its research institutes and partnerships, as well as its extensive network of individuals, IAFOR is engaged in the direction and production of original research, as well as consulting projects.
4. Publishing, Multimedia & Content
IAFOR publishes a range of online and print materials of original work. These include a growing number of peer-reviewed academic journals, special series of monographs, varied conference-related materials, as well as THINK, The Academic Platform, launched in the Spring of 2016. We are also committed to constituting a large video and audio depository to complement the online research archive.
5. Conferences & Events Organisation
IAFOR organises events on three continents (Asia, Europe, and North America). We organise conferences, seminars, cultural, and other events, including academic study tours, book launches, and arts festivals. We are also able to organise conferences on behalf of third party organisations providing that no association might compromise or be seen to compromise the political independence or academic integrity of the organisation.
IAFOR is a registered non-profit research organisation (General Association 一般社団法人) based in Nagoya, Japan.
IAFOR’s commercial activities are operated by a mission-driven social enterprise that underwrites the organisation and funds non-profit and charitable activities.