ASEAN is on the eve of announcing a single integrated community in 2015, comprising three main spheres of cooperation: political security, economic, and sociocultural. Since its establishment in 1967, ASEAN has grown from a relatively limited diplomatic forum into an organization and concept that encompasses a wide range of cultural, economic, and political goals aimed at regional integration and international cooperation. The ASEAN “brand” has also gained wider attention and attraction over the years. ASEAN maintains a central convening role for gatherings of leaders from its members and dialogue partners: Australia, China, India, Japan, the Republic of Korea, New Zealand, Russia, the United States, the European Union and the United Nations.
ASEAN member states have carried out a wide range of activities, individually and collectively, to promote greater awareness and understanding of ASEAN, especially its aims, achievements, and workings. Yet, there still remains a perception that ASEAN is an elite, diplomatic forum far removed from the everyday lives of the citizens of its member states. ASEAN awareness activities are also concentrated more in the central metropolitan areas of each member state's administrative and/ or commercial hubs.
In an effort to gauge the extent to which attitudes and awareness towards ASEAN have changed from an initial survey conducted among university undergraduate students in the ten ASEAN members in 2007, the project investigators undertook an update in 2014.
As an update to the earlier survey, the 2014 survey replicates most of the questions of the 2007 survey, but adds two questions aimed at gauging how the students across the region think about ASEAN and its members, and their perceptions of similarities and differences amongst ASEAN countries. The 2014 survey also expanded the scope of investigation to twelve additional universities across the region, to represent regional, ethnic, and socio-economic diversity within the nations.
The survey thus continued to measure: (1) attitudes toward ASEAN; (2) knowledge about the region and the Association; (3) orientation towards the region and countries; (4) sources of information about the region; and (5) aspirations for integration and action. As with the 2007 survey, the one in 2014 targeted undergraduate students in the universities surveyed. It was undertaken from June 2014 to May 2015, and involved 4,623 students from twenty-two universities in the ten ASEAN member states.