Trinity Awarded Competitive Luce Foundation Grant

Funds will expand and integrate Asian Studies and Environmental Science at the College
​Hartford, Conn., September 16, 2011 – Trinity College has been awarded a one-year $50,000 exploratory grant from the Henry Luce Foundation through its new Luce Initiative on Asian Studies and the Environment (LIASE).  This award brings with it an invitation to apply for a second phase of funding within the program—implementation grants of up to $400,000—following the successful completion of the 14-month exploratory phase of activities.  The interdisciplinary proposal development was facilitated by the Trinity College Center for Urban and Global Studies (CUGS) and brought together over a dozen Trinity faculty whose teaching and research focus on Asia and/or environmental studies including Dean Xiangming Chen (sociology), Michael Lestz (history), Joan Morrison, Christoph Geiss, Jonathan Gourley (environmental science), Jeffrey Bayliss (history), Beth Notar (anthropology), Yipeng Shen, Naogan Ma, Reiko Wagoner (culture and language studies), James Wen (economics), Lin Cheng and Emilie Dressaire (engineering), Vijay Prashad (international studies), and Reza Ghanbarpour (a recent International Institute of Education Visiting Scholar).
The grant will allow the College to continue to strengthen its growing urban and global focus, building upon its distinct identity as a liberal arts College within an urban location and with a global reach.  The grant will further advance the College’s Asian Studies and Environmental Science programs and its relationships in Asia, with particular focus on China.  Activities funded by the grant will support increasing interdisciplinarity between the humanities, social sciences, and the natural sciences. This institutional vision has roots in the establishment of Trinity’s Center for Urban Global Studies in 2007.  The Center draws together the College’s community and international programs, and further supports curricular ties between teaching and research on urban and global issues.  Facilitated by Dean Xiangming Chen, Paul E. Raether Distinguished Professor of Sociology and International Studies, Trinity has entered a new partnership with Fudan University in Shanghai that will benefit work related to the Luce grant. 
The grant builds upon a successful four-week student summer program, Megacities of the Yangtze River, in China.  Megacities is led by Chen; Michael Lestz, Associate Professor of History; and Joan Morrison, Professor of Biology, with funding through the China Urban Studies Summer Program Endowment, the O’Neill Asia Cum Laude Endowment, and the Charlotte C. Riggs Endowment for International Study.  A total of 54 Trinity students have participated in its first three sessions, and a few of them who have graduated are now working and studying in urban-related fields. This program was a key building block for Trinity’s success in envisioning expanded opportunities for deeper and more interdisciplinary engagement in investigations of issues of environmental sustainability and urban development in China and the larger Asian context.

Joan Morrison, Professor of Biology, gives a lecture to Trinity students on water sampling at the Yangtze River in China, during  the summer program, Megacities of the Yangtze River.
The goals of the Trinity activities supported through the Luce Foundation’s LIASE grant are to strengthen and broaden undergraduate understanding of a rapidly changing China, as it relates to the critical issues and challenges of environmental sustainability and urban development.  The program’s larger aim at Trinity is to invigorate and integrate three key programs—Asian Studies, Environmental Science, and Urban Studies—within the liberal arts curriculum at the College, thus more vigorously preparing students for leadership opportunities in those realms. 
Trinity’s exploratory grant will support: interdisciplinary curricular development related to Asia and issues of sustainability; broadening of faculty expertise and interest; a faculty reading group commencing in the fall of 2011 and resulting pilot research projects; a new course to be offered in the spring of 2012 to be followed by a new summer program; a pilot program for a visiting scholar from China; an expansion of undergraduate research opportunities and engagement with environmental NGOs in China; and a “think tank” that will bring together Trinity’s natural science, social science, and humanities faculty to begin to envision how a web-based “Digital Cities” platform can be created to promote dynamic and broadly accessible exchange among researchers, scholars, practitioners, and students focusing on pressing issues and challenges facing cities of the 21st century. 
Planning for the development of the web-based “Digital Cities” platform for information and exchange will include faculty members from the College’s computer science program—Professor Ralph Morelli and Humanitarian Free and Open Source Software Project Director Trishan de Lanerolle.  Both have been working with students and educators alike, focusing on the intersection of technology and real world, applied, global problem-solving related to humanitarian efforts around the world.  This effort will also involve David Tatem, Instructional Technologist at Trinity, who will help with and advise on building this digital platform. Such expertise during the exploratory phase of the project will ensure that the digital platform can become a resource and unifying tool for a community of people and organizations, across cultural and geographic borders, interested in Asia, the environment, sustainability, and urban development.  The digital platform will serve as a model of collaboration, portability and carbon neutral exchange.
Trinity’s focus on Asia, along with its urban-global emphasis, stems from the emerging world in which students, graduates, and scholars are now living and working.  According to a 2009 McKinsey report, more people on the planet live in cities than in rural areas for the first time in history, marking the 21st century as the Century of the City. About 90 percent of urban growth worldwide will occur in developing countries. As cities consume 60 to 70 percent of the world’s energy use, urban development over the next few decades will play a crucial role in the trajectory of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions and natural resource depletion. China looms as the most dominant global example due to the sheer scale and speed of its urbanization.  It is estimated that by 2030, China will add another 350 million people to its urban population, which will push its urban population to the one billion mark. To move and house this population, China will need to build 170 mass-transit systems and provide 40 billion square meters of floor space in five million buildings, 50,000 of which could be skyscrapers that will be equivalent to constructing up to ten New York Cities. A better understanding of and stronger engagement with sustainable urban development in China, through truly interdisciplinary teaching and research activities at Trinity supported by the Luce Foundation grant, will provide broader lessons on how to balance rapid urbanization and environmental sustainability on a global scale. 
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, 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.