ABOUT THE INSTITUTE
The Department of the Middle and Far East was established in 2000, and after a few years, in 2009, it was transformed into the independent Institute of the Middle and Far East of the Jagiellonian University.
Professor Andrzej Kapiszewski (1947-2007) – mathematician, sociologist, expert on the Middle East and North America, ambassador to the Arab Emirates and Qatar – was the founder and creator of the academic institution dealing with broad studies on the Middle and Far East. He was the director of the Department until 2007. Previously the studies on Asia at the Jagiellonian University were virtually limited to philological studies and research works by a few devoted scholars. At present, prof. A. W. Jelonek – sociologist, academic teacher and traveler as well as ambassador to Malaysia and Brunei – continues the idea of prof. Kapiszewski as the current director of the Institute. It was because of his passion and academic activity that the Department was finally transformed into the independent Institute of the Middle and Far East of the Jagiellonian University where more than fifty scholars and oriental languages teachers work.
Studies that were initially conducted in only one room, now have found a new place in a modern building of Collegium Asiaticum, situated next to the Jagiellonian Library and the National Museum of Cracow, and only a ten-minute walk from the Main Square or Collegium Novum.
Currently scholars working at the Institute are fluent in such oriental languages as: Arabic, Japanese, Chinese, Hindi, Urdu, Korean, Bahasa (Indonesian), Hebrew and Turkish. The Institute brings together scholars of many different academic fields, who continuously research issues related to Asia and the Middle East, filling the niche between philology, political science, sociology and economics.
WHY HAS THE INSTITUTE OF THE MIDDLE AND FAR EAST BEEN ESTABLISHED?
“The world opens up to Asia and we want to participate in this process” – this is the keynote of the Institute that has been established out of the market’s need for studies and specialists dealing with this particular part of the world. There is a great demand for preparing analyses, case studies, descriptions of new events and phenomena, reliable studies of history, culture, as well as environmental and social issues of the countries to which we travel more and more eagerly. The most crucial and pressing problems that need to be researched nowadays are, for example: the phenomenon of migration (from the Middle East and Asian countries), the pandemic, the K-Pop culture and Japanese popular culture (manga and anime).
All the courses at the Institute are conducted using the methodology of humanities, social and economic studies as well as oriental languages, which all together are considered the crucial tool for a scholar dealing with this particular part of the world.
We would like the Institute to become a dynamically developing center for scholars who are focused on the Middle East, Asian countries, and Africa. Our main aim is to cover and analyze as many issues related to the region of our interest as possible in order to reinforce economy, industry and tourism sector. We focus on preparing studies and analyzes that will be recognized in the world.
The lack of human resources dealing with Asia in the labor market became a direct impulse to establish studies on Asia, the Middle East and Africa. At present there are seven faculties at the Institute: Studies on China, Studies on Japan, Studies on Korea, Studies on India and South Asia, the Middle East Studies, Far East Studies and Asian studies in both B.A and M.A programs. Every year the bachelor’s and master’s degrees are received by about 120 students.
B.A. studies at their core are vocational – they prepare for a good start in the labor market. Despite of its interdisciplinary character they focus on narrow specialization. This way, students are able to obtain unique and full knowledge about the region of their interest. Each year students attend classes on history and recent social and cultural issues of the chosen country, they also are required to complete 180 hours of the oriental language course (partially conducted by native speakers). This type of studies has been designed for keen enthusiasts who are not afraid of cultural differences. During the course of B.A. and M.A studies our students are supposed to complete five years of intensive language courses, spend at least six months in Asian or Middle East countries as part of the offered scholarships, meet numbers of specialists dealing with Asia, the Middle East and Africa (thanks to extensive program of visiting professors), and complete free internships in organizations that are economically contented with Asia.
ADMISSION TO STUDIES AS A REFLECTION OF THE CURRENT POLITICAL SITUATION
It has been noted that the admission to our studies strongly depends on the current events in the region in question. When we were establishing our studies the main and the most important faculty were the Middle East Studies, which nowadays, due to war and terrorism in the region, have been marginalized. In the following years we observed increased interest in China as a potential workplace. Currently, however, because of the great popularity of manga and K-Pop, the majority of top students has been leaning towards studies on Japan and Korea.Our students develop their passion and various interests in Far East and the Middle East Science Clubs. Thanks to these organizations we have had the opportunity to celebrate the colorful festival of Holi, the diverse world of Japanese manga, we have learnt South Asian form of body art called Mehendi, and last but not least we have hosted an actual camel on our Campus.
PRACTICAL SIDE OF THE INSTITUTE’S ACTIVITIES
The Administration Office of the Middle and Far East Institute consists of five people who are responsible for all matters relating to organization and finances. Two employees of the Student Services office provide help to approximately six hundred students. It would not have been possible without the efforts of the Jagiellonian University to introduce intra-university IT solutions. The electronic grade transcripts have been introduced as well as USOS system which provides students with the tools for controlling the whole course of their studies. Our staff is engaged in filling in and submitting documents for foreign scholarships, it cooperates with coordinators from other universities and also guides ERASMUS and other foreign exchange students. The main aim of the Administration Office is to make student’s academic experience as easy as possible by providing direction and guidance.
The remaining members of the administration deal with the following issues: current expenses of the Institute, grant services, planning of the Institute’s events, class schedules, cooperation with full-time and visiting employees and website management.