Over fall break, Hobart and William Smith Colleges hosted a two-day Asian Environmental Studies Curriculum Development Workshop.
“The goal was to get people together from schools that have longstanding and robust interdisciplinary Asian Studies programs and Environmental Studies programs, and help them work towards combining the strengths of those programs and bring Asian themes, case studies, and perspectives into their environmental studies teaching,” explains Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies Darrin Magee.
This two-day workshop, part of a new Asian Environmental Studies (AES) Initiative generously supported by the Henry Luce Foundation, was primarily composed of breakout sessions organized both thematically (e.g., water, energy, waste) and geographically (e.g., China, Japan, Vietnam). Facilitators helped focus the breakout sessions with questions designed to both identify broad themes and issue areas for AES, as well as focus tactically on how those issues might be brought into environmental studies classrooms in meaningful and challenging ways.
The workshop garnered interested parties from as far away as Beijing, China and the U.S. west coast. The participants represented a variety of disciplines, including engineering, law and policy, humanism, biology and public health, with a range of experience in Asia.
“Our hope was that the workshop would help bridge the gap and give non-Asia experts a few starting points for developing their own expertise and teaching on AES topics,” explains Magee.
In addition to the disciplines previously named, participants in the workshop included a member of the Chinese Ministry of Environment and Qingdao Institute of Science and Technology, director of The Henry Luce Foundation’s Asia program, and author of Toxic Archipelago: A History of Industrial Disease in Japan. The workshop also featured speaker Dr. Jennifer Turner, who has been the director of the China Environment Forum at the Woodrow Wilson Center for 12 years.
This workshop was sponsored by the Colleges with funding from The Henry Luce Foundation in support of an AES Initiative here from 2011 to 2014. For more information about the Initiative, visit: http://www.hws.edu/academics/envirostudies/asian.aspx.