Luce Symposium at Trinity College Builds on Connection between Hartford and China

Scholars, Policymakers, and Practitioners Share Interdisciplinary Research during Day-Long Program Hosted by CUGS

​Hartford, Connecticut, May 8, 2018—Trinity College’s Center for Urban and Global Studies (CUGS) recently hosted a day-long symposium that brought together scholars, practitioners, and policymakers from Trinity College and the Hartford region and from several major universities and cities along the Yangtze River Economic Belt in China. “A Tale of Two River Regions,” held on April 24, was supported by the Henry Luce Foundation through the Luce Initiative on Asian Studies and the Environment.

The two groups gathered to present research and explore policy issues regarding sustainable urban development and regional cooperation in a small and deindustrialized region – the lower Connecticut River Valley, where Hartford is located – in comparison to the massive and industrializing regional corridor that ranges from Shanghai to Chongqing and Kunming.

The day began as speakers presented their work at the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving in downtown Hartford. After a short interlude for lunch and walking tours of Hartford and the Trinity campus, the presentations continued in the Rittenberg Lounge at Trinity’s Mather Hall. The event culminated with dinner on campus at the Smith House, hosted by Trinity College President Joanne Berger-Sweeney.

Chenggong Liu, a vice chancellor of Fudan University, with which Trinity has a faculty exchange program through CUGS, said in the welcome remarks, “While the Yangtze River watershed is much larger, we still have a lot to learn from the development of Connecticut River that can help us reflect on our experience with rapid industrialization and avoid future policy mistakes.”

The symposium focused on urban development and regional cooperation and touched upon subjects including urbanization, mega-city regions, sustainability, trade, vehicular traffic mitigation in mega-cities, adaptive reuse of industrial heritage, and much more. “The key objective of the symposium is to better understand these river cities and regions,” said Xiangming Chen, dean and director of Trinity’s Center for Urban and Global Studies and Paul E. Raether Distinguished Professor of Global Urban Studies and Sociology, who was the primary organizer of the event. “Thanks to the Luce Foundation, we have the opportunity to bring together scholars from across the ocean and find links across the disciplines.”   

The group of scholars included 10 speakers from Trinity, six from Chinese universities, and two community partners from the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving. Yipeng Shen, associate professor of language and culture studies at Trinity, said, “This is a unique opportunity for American-trained scholars like myself to understand a variety of approaches and prospective to study China. Because of the limitations of Western academia, many of our methodologies are Western-centered. With input from our Chinese peers, I learned a lot about how to approach a familiar topic in a new light.”

Berger-Sweeney gave an address at the dinner in which she thanked the scholars for their visit. “This symposium represents the very best of interdisciplinary teaching and learning. It’s bringing together history, engineering, economics, and fine arts,” she said. “All of these disciplines are at the core of a liberal arts education.”

Yina Zhang is an associate professor of population studies at the School of Social Development and Public Policy at Fudan University in China, which also is the site of the Trinity in Shanghai study away program. As the current Luce Visiting Scholar at Trinity, she is teaching a course called “Big Data and China,” which focuses on cities in the region as urban systems. “I am impressed by how Trinity people look at things from a global point of view,” Zhang said. “The students and faculty here study other countries, including those in Asia and other countries, developing or developed, by actually going to these countries, so they can better understand and compare the differences between the regions.”

Many Trinity students in attendance were international students from China. “I’m currently writing a thesis on mega-cities in northern China,” said Heidy Xie ’18, who is from Beijing. “Since the symposium is highly related to my thesis, this event provided an opportunity to talk to multiple scholars and experts in the field.”

Click here to view a full list of the speakers and their presentations.

For more information about Trinity College’s Center for Urban and Global Studies, click here.

Written by Lucy Peng ’18


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