Claremont McKenna College (CMC) has been awarded a $100,000 grant from the Henry Luce Foundation on behalf of the five Claremont Colleges (CMC, Harvey Mudd, Pitzer, Pomona and Scripps Colleges) to support a new project called EnviroLab Asia, a unique multidisciplinary program that brings together the five colleges, academic departments, faculty, staff and students from all corners of Claremont.
This exploration grant, made possible through the Luce Initiative on Asia Studies and the Environment (LIASE), will create an “innovative architecture” at the colleges for studying intersections between Asian Studies, Asian Languages and Environmental Analysis (EA).
CMC will serve as the lead college on the project and manage reporting duties and administration of the grant. Albert L. Park, Associate Professor of History at CMC; Char Miller, W.M. Keck Professor of Environmental Analysis at Pomona College; and Kyoko Kurita, Associate Professor of Asian Languages and Literature at Pomona College will head the project. Tamara Venit-Shelton, Associate Professor of History at CMC, and Branwen Williams, Assistant Professor of Environmental Science for Keck Science, also worked hard to develop this initiative.
In addition, there will be a six-person steering committee including representatives from each of the five colleges, plus the W.M. Keck Science Department of CMC, Pitzer and Scripps Colleges.
“Approaching environmental issues through close collaboration between disciplines allows for the creation of a community of faculty and students who will connect processes, trends, and developments in the past and present to produce holistic understandings of the causes of environmental problems and issues,” said Professor Park.
Professor Park said that faculty and students will also work together to think about the relationship between knowledge and practice. “That is, in working with local communities in Asia, we’ll determine how we can develop place-appropriate ways to tackle environmental problems based on any newly created knowledge and how those practices can help us to refine and expand our knowledge of environmental issues.”
The exploration phase of the project entitled: From Land to Sea: Nature, Culture and Asia’s Ecosystem, will partner The Claremont Colleges with Yale National University of Singapore (NUS), and draw upon extensive research concerning the health of forest and coral reef habitats as they relate to human development.
The project’s six main objectives will be to:
- Create a project website that hosts and consolidates information about the intersections of Language, Asian Studies and EA.
- Redevelop/enhance eight courses in Modern Languages, Asian Studies, and EA to incorporate project themes.
- Create two research clusters focusing on specific research topics related to the project.
- Institute a “pilot workshop for change” that invites practitioners in the field to share leadership and experience on selected issues.
- Establish a clinic project executed by research cluster participants “on the ground” in Singapore.
- Initiate an EnviroLab Asia Networking Poster Conference that includes The Claremont Colleges, Occidental and Whittier Colleges (other LIASE grantees) to foster collaboration, share results and help build a regional network of scholarships around the program’s core issues.
It’s hoped that via an infrastructure of expert networks and communications, EnviroLab Asia will foster new knowledge about how nature, the environment and human populations in Asia interact. In addition, the program will seek to increase faculty and students’ abilities to effectively influence debates, as well as provide innovative solutions to a variety of environmental problems.
“At a time when problems of the environment are a global issue, EnviroLab Asia serves to help everyone at the Claremont Colleges develop an intellectually-rich approach to studying and confronting environmental issues,” Professor Park said.
LIASE is administered by the Henry Luce Foundation’s Asia Program and is a multi-year, competitive grants program for invited liberal arts colleges and formal associations of liberal arts colleges in the U.S. LIASE encourages innovative approaches to Asian studies teaching and research at the undergraduate level through the lens of the environment and sustainable development.