The Henry Luce Foundation has awarded Claremont McKenna College, under the direction of Prof. Albert L. Park, a $240,000 grant to launch an open-access book series on The Environments of East Asia with Cornell University Press. This is the first book series that integrates scholarship on East Asia with environmental studies ever published with an academic press.
Funding will be used to advance the successful work of EnviroLab Asia, a 5C initiative founded in 2015 with support from the Luce Foundation. Park has served as a principal administrator for EnviroLab Asia, which is designed to promote interdisciplinary collaboration and train leaders on solving complex global issues—particularly with a focus on environmentalism and the continent of Asia.
“For me, the study of the environment is a perfect vehicle for exploring the human/non-human relationship and political, economic, social, and cultural issues. East Asia has featured significant environmental changes from the premodern to the modern period, and there has been so many fantastic new studies over the past few years that have tackled these different issues and shined a light on the intersection between humans/non-humans,” said Park, the Bank of America Associate Professor of Pacific Basin Studies.
The Environments of East Asia complements the EnviroLab Asia initiative by bringing together experts from diverse areas of study to innovate cross-disciplinary approaches. While the title implies its focus on the environment, the series will also consider how these ideas may be translated to solve other overlapping social problems.
Park shares the award with Professor Ann Sherif of Oberlin College and the Cornell University Press, which will publish the collection. Together, they anticipate publishing 10 books over the next three years. In addition to providing innovative ways to study compelling international issues in an interdisciplinary manner, their book project offers new opportunities to connect the CMC community to leading scholars, practitioners, and policymakers from around the world. Professors Park and Sherif will travel the globe to recruit authors, who will be invited to workshops and other intellectual engagements at CMC and Oberlin College.
“This grant enables authors to share their dynamic knowledge on the environment widely, the public to learn more about East Asia, and CMC and the Claremont Colleges to engage with exciting scholarship,” Park said. “It opens up the possibility of forging a new community that can collectively explore how to understand and approach the most pressing environmental problems today.”
In addition to being the first academic collection of its kind, The Environments of East Asia breaks ground as an open-access book series, meaning it will be made free and widely available to students, scholars, and general audiences across the globe. It was important to Park and his collaborators to make these books open access in order to democratize readership.
“Outside of the United States, academic books published in America, in particular, tend to be very expensive for both foreign libraries and readers. Open access allows for a more global sharing of knowledge and the creation of an inclusive, diverse community of readers,” Park said.
“The field of environmental studies has mostly been Western-centric (both in subject of study and authorship), so we thought a new series on East Asia also would be an effective way to expand the field and create a larger community for approach and tackling environmental problems at the local and global levels.”
The Henry Luce Foundation was founded in 1936 by Henry R. Luce, the co-founder and editor in chief of Time, Inc. The Foundation has a long legacy of support for innovative work related to Asia, higher education, and public policy, among other areas.