While we are known as a centre for “International Studies”, BCIS does not yet possess a Vision & a Mission Statement. This brief proposal will attempt to do that, and highlight certain broad themes that our research officers, research fellows, students etc must be encouraged to work on.
To be the premier Institute in International Studies in the South Asian region and to be one of the most sought after Educational Research Centres in International Studies.
The general definition of International Studies is that it is the study of the “major political, economic, social, and cultural issues that dominate the international agenda.” Therefore, our research must always focus on the “international agenda” from a broad range of social, economic, cultural and political viewpoints. The themes we design as our research areas must reflect this. The trends we identify must be of concern to everybody and determine how countries see the world and interact with each other. The themes below will elaborate how each one is important to both understanding and shaping the world.
Formed in 1974, the Bandaranaike Centre for International Studies is one of the most recognizable institutions for foreign policy and international relations in the subcontinent. Founded by Srimavo Bandaranaike in order to assist policy-makers and diplomats during the non-aligned movement, the institute has evolved over the decades to establish itself in two areas – research and teaching.
The BCIS teaches an array of courses, the flagships of which are the Diploma and Postgraduate Diploma programmes in International Relations. They have become two of the most highly demanded qualifications for aspiring diplomats, students, practising lawyers, media professionals and officers of the armed services in Sri Lanka. The institute has also played a key role on the research and policy side, ensuring that national conferences, guest lectures by international experts and open seminars have been held every year.
From 2016 onwards, the BCIS – spearheaded by the Chairman and the Board of Studies – will begin the next cycle in the evolution of the institute. The syllabi for all of the Centre’s courses have been drastically revamped with input from both national and foreign experts, ensuring that BCIS continues to be on the cutting edge of content, style and structure when it comes to its courses. The new syllabi will take a radically different approach from established patterns of IR education in South Asia, setting the institute even further ahead of its competitors. Teaching methods are also being reinvented within the institute, with the recognition that utilizing innovative techniques and the most modern technology available will be essential to maintain the institute’s reputation as a nationally respected centre for IR studies. New initiatives, like a Certificate course on Human Rights and regularly held capsule courses on niche IR areas, will also be underway.
Concurrently, there is a steep rise on the emphasis placed by the BCIS on its second but equally important component – research. While the institute draws hundreds of students for various programmes over the course of an academic year, the potential of the institute to develop into a guiding tool for the foreign policy establishment will now be tapped to a much larger extent than before as well. Focusing on a vast selection of topics from International Trade to Security Studies to Human Rights, the BCIS plans to be at the forefront of any policy dialogue in Sri Lanka. By appointing both senior and budding intellectuals to disseminate knowledge and publish original research on these topics, the institute hopes to propel BCIS from its position as a predominantly teaching-based centre to a bona fide think-tank that is sought after by the public and private sectors.
“If you are not willing to learn, nobody can help you. If you are determined to learn, nobody can stop you.” is a recent mantra found in most of the offices of the BCIS team. The institute hopes that this new approach will allow the BCIS to establish itself as the trend-setter in IR policy discourse and a genuine academic force to be reckoned with.