The health of Thai Studies internationally is of significant professional and personal interest to many New Mandala readers. Many of you will thus want to follow Harvard University’s plan to establish a newly assertive role in the field.

The Nation has a thorough report, and as I started to dig into the topic it appears that Dr Kriengsak Charoenwongsak has been a driving force behind these efforts (going right back to 2007). Harvard’s Professor Michael Herzfeld is quoted in The Nation‘s article which focusses on what will be a new “Thai Studies initiative”.

For those who are intrigued, a short list of Thai scholars who have been associated with Harvard in recent years is available here. There is also the Harvard Thai Society and the Harvard Club of Thailand.

It sounds like this recent announcement signals some big, bold plans. And now what they need is “funding from potential donors, both corporate and individual, who have strong interests in Thailand”. The goal is a $6 million endowment, which would support a professorship, a Thai language program, and other activities in perpetuity.

In the meantime, according to The Nation‘s report, the Thai Foreign Ministry is helping out with some initial funding.