In the Fall of 2005, a group of professors at the University of Missouri - Columbia formed The Vietnam Initiatives Group to evaluate the interests among faculty for developing a strategic thrust for this country that is rapidly emerging as a critical country in global affairs - About 20 faculty members participated in the discussions during the Fall 2005 and Winter 2006 semesters. These meetings, with the endorsement of the administration, decided goals in research and academic progress.

The Vietnam Initiatives Group was launched under Asian Affairs Centers and Department of Geography, University of Missouri - Columbia.

In Autumn 2008, Vietnam Initiatives Group members decided to name the group “The Vietnam Institute”, hereafter referred as The Vietnam Institute (TVI) and Vietnam Initiatives Group (VIG).


To develop a wide range of scientific and cultural interactions with institutions and individuals in Vietnam, thereby creating learning and research opportunities for MU students and faculty as well as Vietnamese citizens, and broadening internationalization of the MU campus.


  1. To expand joint research and collaboration with Vietnamese scientists
  2. Provide excellent learning environments for young scientists
  3. Give visibility to the Asian effort on campus
  4. Contribute to the campus interest in internationalization
  5. Conduct training programs for Vietnamese officials

Activities of MU with Vietnam

The University of Missouri has established itself as an important U.S. gateway for Vietnamese higher education in the U.S., welcoming students in the social sciences, humanities, education, journalism, and medicine as well as engineering and the life sciences. The University is also contributing to educational reform in the course of Vietnam’s development. Activities include:

  1. Facilitation of faculty visits to Vietnam to give lectures, offer courses, participate in workshops, and otherwise increase the visibility of MU and programs (e.g., Professors Nelson, Hobbs, and Akers offered grant writing and scientific publication workshops for the Vietnam National Science Foundation for Science and Technology Development, NAFOSTED; Professor Hobbs offered a scientific publication workshop for the Vietnam National University-Hanoi; Professor Ludwig taught geography courses at the Hanoi National University of Education);

  2. Recruitment of undergraduate and graduate students, engagement of exchange faculty and post-doctorals and visiting scholars to MU (e.g., MU sponsored a Vietnamese Scholar in Residence from Vietnam National University-Hanoi in Spring Semester 2009);

  3. Assistance in the continued development of the culture of scientific research and publication in Vietnam, e.g. through the Vietnam National Foundation for Science and Technology Development (NAFOSTED) and Ministry of Education and Training (MOST);

  4. Training in the English language and cultural familiarity skills of Vietnamese students, scholars and officials in the United States (beginning in summer 2010);

  5. Development of integrated distance learning through partnerships with Vietnamese counterparts;

  6. Communication and work with scholarship granting agencies, especially the Vietnam Education Foundation (VEF) and the Ministry of Education and Training (MOET); (e.g., in Spring 2014, MU hosted the VEF annual conference for VEF scholars studying in the United States);

  7. Development and support of research and training programs associated by MOUs with:

    • Can Tho University
    • Cuu Long Delta Rice Research Institute
    • Hanoi National University of Education
    • International Center for Advanced Research on Global Change (IGARC)
    • Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD)
    • Ministry of Education and Training (MOET)
    • Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization (SEAMEO)
    • Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology (VAST)
    • Vietnam Academy of Agricultural Sciences (VAAS)
    • Vietnam Education Foundation (VEF)
    • Vietnam Institute of Geology of Mineral Resources (VIGMR)
    • Vietnam National Foundation For Science And Technology Development (NAFOSTED)
    • Vietnam National University – Hanoi (VNU - Hanoi)
    • Vietnam National University, Ho Chi Minh City
    • Vietnam National University of Agriculture (previously known as Hanoi University of Agriculture)
  8. Development and co-sponsorship of training sessions, workshops and conferences in Vietnam (including with MARD, NAFOSTED, VIGMR; DRAGON – Delta Research and Global Observation Network);

  9. Working with the Vietnam Embassy in Washington D.C. to develop programs, reflect mutual commitments, and host diplomatic personnel in visits to MU;

  10. Working with the U.S. Embassy in Hanoi to develop research, education and training programs (e.g., with STAR sponsorship of Professor Hobbs to discuss Vietnam’s climate change problems and GIS with colleagues of the Ho Chi Minh Academy);

  11. Working with the U.S. State Department in Washington DC on an annual basis to engage in bilateral development of education and research activities (e.g.,MU participated in Feb. 2008 Joint Commission on Science and Technology; the June 2008 Task Force Strategy Meetings on Vietnam Education; the January 2009 and 2010 Conferences in HCMC and Hanoi on U.S./Vietnam Conference on Higher Education in Vietnam: American-Vietnamese Partnerships; and Provost Foster and Professor Hobbs led one of the five work areas for the Joint Task Force);

  12. Assisting the MU Development Office and the Asian Affairs Center in raising funds;

  13. Working with the Missouri Department of Economic Development on joint programs and enhancement of trade (e.g., MU co-sponsored the May 2008 workshop on “Doing Business in Vietnam”);

  14. Assisting in the activities of the Vietnam Student Association (VSA) at MU, and engaging VSA and Vietnam Institute members and staff in the process or recruiting outstanding Vietnamese students;

  15. Orienting and accommodating Vietnamese students within the academic and social cultures of US higher education, through intensive fall workshops and regular formal and informal meetings.

  16. Working with MU’s Vietnamese Student Association to provide liaison between MU and the broader Vietnamese American community living in the area; and

  17. Introducing MU students to Vietnamese culture and economic opportunities by organizing Vietnamese (cultural) events on campus and offering a regular colloquium series.

Administrative actions taken by MU for the short-term

  1. Recognition of Vietnam as a priority program for MU’s interenational efforts, and as a complement to MU’s Asian portfolio (also prominent in Thailand, China, Taiwan, Korea);
  2. Support of MU administrators in assisting MU’s Vietnam efforts and the tasks of the Vietnam Institute; and
  3. Financial resources (institutional support) to develop Vietnam programs.

Value to the University of Missouri

  1. Internationalized MU student body that shows genuine interest and understanding of Asia;
  2. Enrichment of research activities at MU by excellent students and scholars from Vietnam;
  3. Having faculty at MU who are knowledgeable and experienced in Asia and Vietnam, with a high output of scholarship and publications in top quality peer-reviewed journal and monographs;
  4. Recognition of MU, the state of Missouri, and the US Midwest as valuable technical resources for American businesses and organizations for development in Asia and Vietnam;
  5. MU’s recognition as a vital contributor to economic development of the State of Missouri;
  6. Recognition of MU as a premier academic leader in the US on Asia and Vietnam; and
  7. Strong visibility in Vietnam as a top-quality academic institution with genuine commitment and attention to individual and institutional needs in Vietnam.