The Center for Lao Studies is a unique organization that serves both as an academic and a resource center for scholars, the general public, and persons of Lao heritage around the world. Our mission is to advance knowledge and engagement in the field of Lao Studies through research, education and information sharing. Ourvision is to be an institution that leads and excels in the pursuit of knowledge in the field of Lao Studies. At the Center for Lao Studies, we provide an opportunity for all to use our resources, participate in our programs, and to be educated and informed on all issues pertaining to Lao Studies.
The Center for Lao Studies, a 501(c)(3) public benefit corporation, was formed in 2006 as a result of the First International Conference on Lao Studies. CLS was created in response to a void in Lao Studies at the time; in university settings, Lao Studies tended to fall under the umbrella of bigger fields of study and under various administrative structures, such as Centers for Southeast Asian Studies or Centers for Asian Studies. Lao Studies has rarely if ever been the main focus of these fields —Lao specialist faculty is almost nonexistent, Lao language is not taught, and research and publications on Lao-related topics are rare. The Center for Lao Studies has been committed to filling this void by working with academic institutions and community organizations around the world to initiate exceptional programs.
What makes the Center for Lao Studies stand out is our devotion to exclusively developing and promoting the field of Lao Studies. We achieve this through four main objectives:
- Promote Lao Studies in Academia through the International Conference on Lao Studies and Summer Study Abroad in Laos Programs;
- Collaboration between Academia and the Community established through the Lao Oral History Archive, cosponsoring of the International Lao New Year Festival, and through partnerships with institutions, universities and non profit organizations in the U.S. and abroad;
- Promote Research and Publication of the peer‐reviewed Journal of Lao Studies, manuscripts from the International Conferences on Lao Studies, and other scholarly publications that advance and preserve the languages and cultures of the indigenous peoples of Laos; and
- Serve as a Resource Center for scholars, students, community members and the public on all things Lao.
Lao Studies encompasses the study of all Lao disciplines related to and representing the five major groups:
- All ethno-linguistic groups of Laos (e.g. Mon-Khmer, Hmong-Mien, Lao-Tai);
- Lao Isan and other ethnic Lao groups in Thailand (e.g. Lao Song, Phuan, Phu Tai);
- Ethnic Lao living in Cambodia;
- Cross-border ethnic groups in Thailand, Vietnam, China, Burma and Cambodia (e.g. Akha, Hmong/Miao, Khmu, Iu-Mien, Lao Phuan, Tai Leu, Tai Dam, Tai Daeng, Shan); and
- Overseas Lao (e.g. Lao American, Lao French).
At the Center for Lao Studies, we are passionate about elevating discourse on Lao Studies to that on par with other regional studies departments, and are proud of our accomplishments in creating several one-of-a-kind programs. Our members and volunteers around the world have been crucial to our success, and we invite you to join our community in support of expanding awareness of our programs and increasing our impact in the field. Thank you for visiting us – we hope you will take advantage of all the Center for Lao Studies has to offer. Kop Chai!
Download CLS Brochure (pdf)