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Fresh from a two-year sabbatical in Washington, Ford Professor of the Social Sciences Ezra F. Vogel assumed the directorship of the Fairbank Center for East Asian Research this month.
Vogel, a sociologist who has written extensively on China and Japan, said he hopes, as director, to inform the "policy-relevant public" about East Asia and to encourage research on the linkages between Asian countries.
"Public opinion is generally not well-informed, and so one of my thrusts is to talk in a more general way," Vogel said. "A lot of the academic work is so specialized that it doesn't communicate to the public at large."
From the spring of 1993 to this past summer, Vogel worked in Washington for the National Intelligence Council as a specialist on Asia. Vogel said he will continue to work as a consultant for the Department of Defense on East Asia.
"In Washington you're constantly at the beck and call of policy makers," Vogel said. "Now I have lots and lots of office hours, which is something very familiar."
Vogel said he will serve as the center's director for the next three years and is succeeding Fairbank Professor of Chinese Society James L. Watson, a social anthropologist.
Although he expects to write "only brief articles" this year, Vogel said he plans to focus his future research on the complex relationship between China, Japan and the United States.
"Before I went to Washington, I was doing some research on Japan's world role, but that's not as critical now," he said. "The current question in Asia is how China, Japan and the U.S. can come to terms with each other."
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