Hobart and William Smith Colleges have been awarded a $400,000 grant by the Henry Luce Foundation as part of the Luce Foundation’s Asia Program, which seeks to foster cultural and intellectual exchange between the United States and East and Southeast Asia.
The primary goal of the grant is to bring more content about Asia into the environmental studies program at the Colleges. The grant will be used in a number of capacities on campus including curricular development. “The grant will allow for a more critical and in-depth look at human interaction with the environment in East and Southeast Asia,” says Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies Darrin Magee, who was instrumental in obtaining the grant. “Major focal areas of the program will include things such as energy, water, land use, and human health.”
The four-year grant will also allow for increased study abroad opportunities, including exchanges, with a focus on environmental studies in an Asian context. Abroad trips will encompass both semester long and summer programs. Another key aspect of the grant is that it will enable the Colleges to create a three- year position for a post doctoral scholar whose research and teaching focuses on environmental issues in Asia.
“The Luce Foundation is committed to introducing people to Asia,” explains Magee. “With the grant, we hope to help students and faculty develop a deeper knowledge of Asia, when they might not have done so – or had the opportunity to do so – otherwise.”
Provost Teresa Amott is deeply grateful for the funding from the Henry Luce Foundation. “The Foundation’s support is a testament to the strength of our program and our capacity to expand our offerings as well as be a leader among peer liberal arts institutions,” says Amott. “The new initiatives will build on existing institutional strengths to infuse East Asia in a meaningful and substantive manner into teaching and research.”
The Environmental Studies program at HWS is one of the oldest in the country, dating to the late 1970s. The program currently has three dedicated faculty members and more than 30 active affiliate faculty, for more than 100 students who select to major in environmental studies. Teaching on Asia also enjoys a long history at HWS, with the first courses on the region offered during the 1950s. The Asian Languages and Cultures Department is interdisciplinary in staffing, philosophy, and curricular orientation, with four faculty members and more than 30 affiliates. Faculty expertise in these two programs ranges from Northeast to Southeast Asia, with particular strengths in China, Indonesia, Japan, Taiwan, Tibet and Vietnam. Since the earliest days of Asian studies and environmental studies at HWS, the participating faculty in both programs have added courses and programs that have improved the way education and research about environmental issues in Asia is carried out at the Colleges.
Most recently in February 2010, the Colleges hosted the third biennial Half the World symposium that explored the resource and environmental challenges countries and peoples in East Asia have been facing, as well as the responses undertaken by governments, non-governmental organizations and other groups to tackle those challenges. During the two-day event, visiting speakers representing nine other institutions spoke on topics of energy policy, historical water management institutions, garbage politics and more. Magee and other experts presented an interdisciplinary discussion on dam construction in China and around the world. The Luce grant will allow for the Half the World symposium to continue in future years. The symposium had been funded through a grant from the Freeman Foundation.
“It’s an exciting opportunity for HWS to enhance how we teach Asia and environmental studies,” continues Magee. “This grant offers HWS the opportunity to expand its work in Asian environmental studies and take a leadership position within the liberal arts community. It is truly an honor … and a challenge.”
The Henry Luce Foundation was established in 1936 by Henry R. Luce, the co-founder and editor-in-chief of Time Inc., to honor his parents who were missionary educators in China. The Foundation builds upon the vision and values of four generations of the Luce family: broadening knowledge and encouraging the highest standards of service and leadership. A not-for-profit corporation, Luce aims to exemplify the best practices of responsible, effective philanthropy.
Darrin Magee is featured in the photo above.