About WREAC

Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) Funded Programme (2012-2016)

The White Rose East Asia Centre (WREAC) continues to build national capacity in Language-Based Area Studies thanks to funding from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and the British Academy (BA).

In the period 2012-2016, WREAC is developing its research, knowledge exchange and language training in East Asian Studies. In particular, the Centre focuses on capacity building in Chinese and Japanese Studies through language, methods and cultural training. It works with both academic institutions and non-academic partners within and beyond the UK to help postgraduate students and early career researchers develop research leadership and transferable skills by actively involving them in the organisation, delivery and dissemination of research projects, workshops and seminars. Current research projects are delivered within three strands:

  • Identities and cultures in East Asia;
  • Cross-cultural encounters and globalisation; and
  • Networks in Chinese and Japanese language.

For more details about research within the AHRC-BA funding phases, please see our current research projects.


WREAC Aims and Objectives

  • To develop a global centre of excellence for research and training on modern China and Japan.
  • To achieve critical mass in research and training through deployment of in-house know-how, internet technology and other media to create the best possible research and learning environment for East Asian Studies staff and students.
  • To pool expertise in arts and humanities, social sciences and business studies at the universities of Leeds and Sheffield to produce world-class research and to equip postgraduate students and early career researchers with language and research leadership skills.

WREAC Governance

The White Rose East Asia Centre operates through the Executive Board and is overseen by the International Advisory Board.

The Executive Board is responsible for achieving WREAC's mission and aims through the day-to-day operation of the Centre. It is made up of the Executive Director, the directors of the National Institute of Chinese Studies and the National Institute of Japanese Studies, the research cluster heads, the directors of postgraduate studies and the heads of department of East Asian Studies at the two universities.

The International Advisory Board is chaired by the Pro-Vice-Chancellor at The University of Sheffield and composed of international experts, users and staff. It monitors the performance of the Centre in achieving its mission and aims. 


Centre History 2007-2012 and Funders

The White Rose East Asia Centre (WREAC) is an international Centre of Excellence on China and Japan funded by the Higher Education Funding Council (HEFCE), the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and the British Academy (BA) following a successful £4 million bid under the 2006 Language-Based Area Studies initiative.

It is a collaboration between the departments of East Asian Studies at the universities of Leeds and Sheffield under the umbrella of the White Rose University Consortium. Through the National Institute of Chinese Studies (NICS) and the National Institute of Japanese Studies (NIJS), the Centre undertakes world-class research and provides advanced research training in Chinese and Japanese Studies as part of a government drive to strengthen Britain’s specialised research capacity in East Asian Studies.

Leeds and Sheffield universities have established reputations as leading providers of undergraduate and postgraduate East Asian Studies training. Both universities teach a full range of courses in both Chinese and Japanese Studies, though Leeds has a longer history of teaching Chinese, while Sheffield has a longer history of teaching Japanese. Both departments were established in the early 1960s. Over the past five decades, over 300 postgraduate taught students and over 50 doctoral students have graduated from the two institutions. WREAC has around 60 specialists working on China, Japan, and related areas of Asian Studies. It has formal links with some 30 universities in China and Japan, including Tokyo and Nanjing.

The White Rose East Asia Centre is one of five centres set up to create a world-class pool of researchers to enhance the UK’s understanding of China, Japan, the Arabic-speaking world, and Eastern Europe, including areas of the former Soviet Union.

The five LBAS centres, which collaborate under the Language-Based Area Studies (LBAS) initiative, are:

  • WREAC (White Rose East Asia Centre).
  • BICC (British Inter-university China Centre), a joint venture between Bristol, Manchester, and Oxford Universities.
  • CRCEES (Centre for Russian, Central and East European Studies), an inter-institutional Centre of Excellence in Russian, Central and East European Language-Based Area Studies led by the University of Glasgow and composed of the universities of Aberdeen, Durham, Edinburgh, Newcastle, Nottingham, St. Andrews and Strathclyde.
  • CASAW (Centre for the Advanced Study of the Arab World), led by the University of Edinburgh in partnership with the Universities of Durham and Manchester.
  • CEELBAS (Centre for East European Language-Based Area Studies), a major collaboration between the universities of Bath, Birmingham, Cambridge, Kent, Manchester, Oxford, Sheffield, Warwick, the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London, and UCL.

The White Rose symbol

The White Rose East Asia Centre is part of the White Rose University Consortium, a strategic partnership between the Yorkshire universities of Leeds, Sheffield and York formed in 1997. The partnership was named the White Rose University Consortium after the White Rose, which has been associated for more than 600 years with Yorkshire, England’s largest county.

The origins of the symbol remain obscure, but it is thought that the White Rose was first used by Edmund of Langley, the first Duke of York (1341-1402) and adopted by his descendants. It represents the Virgin Mary, the "Mystical Rose of Heaven", as white is a symbol of purity. During the civil wars of the 15th century, the White Rose was the emblem of Yorkist partisans opposed to the rival House of Lancaster, whose symbols included a red rose. Hence later historians called these conflicts the Wars of the Roses.

On the 1st of August 1759, the 51st Regiment of Foot (later the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry) plucked white roses to commemorate fallen comrades after the battle of Minden. It is said by some that this action began the tradition of associating the white rose with the county of Yorkshire. Most of the municipal authorities, cities and associations of Yorkshire now include white roses on their crests and it was the natural choice for the logo of the White Rose East Asia Centre and its two constituent institutes, the National Institute of Chinese Studies and the National Institute of Japanese Studies.