Henry Luce Foundation has Awarded a $400,000 Grant to Trinity

Funds to link Asian Studies, Environmental Science, Urban Studies
 ​HARTFORD, CT, December 11, 2012 – The Henry Luce Foundation has approved a four-year implementation grant of $400,000 to Trinity through its Luce Initiative on Asian Studies and the Environment (LIASE). The four-year grant, which begins in academic year 2013, comes on the heels of a year-long $50,000 exploration grant received last year through LIASE, bringing the total amount to $450,000 over five years.

The funds will be used to fully implement an integrated program linking Asian studies, environmental science and urban studies by creating innovative strategies to support faculty development, teaching, research, and experiential learning.


Trinity’s River Cities of Asia group by Jialing River, city of Chongqing, southwestern China, June 2012.

Upon receiving notification of the award, Trinity President James F. Jones, Jr., said, “Trinity College is deeply grateful to the Luce Foundation for this exceptional recognition of the work being done by the faculty for our students’ futures.”

The LIASE grant, one of only four awarded to colleges this year, will support a visiting scholar from Asia; research and travel for students and faculty in Asia during the academic year and summer terms; language study on campus and abroad; new course development and revision of existing courses; a reading group; faculty attendance at conferences in the United States and abroad; and a web-based platform designed to facilitate exchange on Asia, the environment and sustainable development.

“This implementation grant will move us several steps forward in developing and strengthening the interdisciplinary connections between and around a curricular triangle of Asian studies, environmental science, and urban studies at Trinity over the next four years,” said Xiangming Chen, dean and director of the Center for Urban and Global Studies.

The River Cities of China/Asia Program, which has been highly successful since its inception in 2009 with support from Trinity’s China Urban Studies Summer Program Endowment Fund and the O’Neill Asia Cum Laude Endowment, laid critical groundwork that led to the success of the proposals. For example, in May and June of this year, three Trinity faculty members and 20 Trinity students completed an investigation of nine cities in four countries along the Yangtze and Mekong Rivers. The Trinity contingent examined public policy issues related to water, history, social community and urban development.

The three Trinity professors who participated in the River Cities of China/Asia Program were Chen; Michael Lestz, associate professor of history and chair of the department; and Joan Morrison, professor of biology.

Altogether, 80 Trinity students have taken part in the River Cities of China/Asia program over the past four years, engaging with some of the central dynamics of development in the basin of the Yangtze River and elsewhere. The students learned about the quest for patterns of sustainable growth premised on environmental integrity that currently has baffled some Asian societies.

Of the trips to Asia, Morrison said, “This kind of experiential learning – actually visiting and experiencing these places and their associated challenges – can affect a student for life. Being in and learning how to navigate in a different culture breeds compassion and tolerance in students who have not been exposed to such differences. I firmly believe these types of experiences can better prepare young people to lead productive lives and be good global citizens.”

Lestz, who is director of the O’Neill Asia Cum Laude Endowment, noted that the Luce grant will present “fabulous opportunities” for Trinity faculty and students to investigate environmental problems in China. 

“Its design facilitates the emergence of unique learning and research programs that draw together our environmental scientists, specialists in Asian studies, and the faculty of the Center for Urban and Global Studies,” Lestz said. 

Jones praised Chen, Morrison and Lestz, as well as Emily Gresh, associate director of corporate and foundation relations, and Amy Brough, director of institutional support, for their work in making recommendations and writing the successful proposal through a highly collaborative process with faculty. 

In addition to the continued participation of Chen, Lestz and Morrison, the Luce initiative has drawn the broader involvement of a dozen other Trinity faculty members across the humanities, social sciences and sciences, including Jeffrey Bayliss, associate professor of history; Lin Cheng, assistant professor of engineering; Trishan de Lanerolle, project director of the Humanitarian Free and Open Software program; Emilie Dressaire, assistant professor of engineering; Ellison Banks Findly, professor or religion and international studies; Christoph Geiss, associate professor of physics and environmental science; Jonathan Gourley, senior lecturer and laboratory coordinator in the environmental science program; Ralph Morelli, professor of computer science; Garth Myers, Paul E. Raether Distinguished Professor of Urban International Studies;  Beth Notar, associate professor of anthropology; Yipeng Shen, assistant professor of language and culture studies and international studies; Rieko Wagoner, principal lecturer in language and culture studies and international studies; and James Wen, professor of economics and international studies.

The Henry Luce Foundation (www.hluce.org) 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, the Luce Foundation operates under the laws of the State of New York and aims to exemplify the best practices of responsible, effective philanthropy. The Henry Luce Foundation seeks to bring important ideas to the center of American life, strengthen international understanding, and foster innovation and leadership in academic, policy, religious and art communities. 

The Luce Foundation pursues its mission today through the following grant-making programs: American Art; East Asia; Luce Scholars; Theology; Higher Education and the Henry R. Luce Professorships; the Henry R. Luce Initiative on Religion and International Affairs; Public Policy and the Environment; and the Clare Boothe Luce Program for women in science, mathematics and engineering. 

​Photo on home page of Oludare Bernard '14​​ taken during the ​River Cities of Asia trip in June 2012.