Who We Are

Luce Initiative on Asian Studies and the Environment

Our program at Dickinson is one part of a larger initiative supported by The Henry Luce Foundation’s Luce Initiative on Asian Studies and the Environment.  At the end of 2012 the Luce Foundation selected four liberal arts colleges (including, in addition to Dickinson, Trinity College in Connecticut, Occidental College in California, and Lawrence University in Wisconsin).  The $400,000 awarded to Dickinson will make it possible for Dickinson to insure that students in our East Asian Studies program and students across the curriculum are able to place countries like China and Japan in the context of global discussion, debate and dialogue about the urgent environmental issues of our day.

Addressing the challenges of climate change and threats to the natural environment and human health and well-being as well as understanding the opportunities at hand to build a more sustainable, humane and ecologically sensitive world absolutely requires the presence of Asia in identifying problems and crafting solutions.  Asian understandings of the natural world, and the place of human beings and other living creatures in that world, offer insights in areas ranging from forestry and agriculture to urban design and environmental law.  These understandings are as local as geological and historical evidence of tsunami disasters in coastal Japan and the recent shift from coal-fired to propone kilns in the pottery city of Jingdezhen in China, as national as the fate of nuclear energy in Japan, the success of congestion taxes in Singapore and the drive to balance rapid economic growth and environmental safety in China, and as transnational as the borderless realities represented by air and water pollution and carbon emissions.

In our four-year program of study and reflection Dickinson will create new courses and new course subsections that investigate these themes both on-campus and in study-trips and field work in China, Japan and Singapore. Research colloquia will explore the latest ideas and evidence from disparate fields and disciplines in the natural sciences, humanities and social sciences.  A student interested in seeing Japanese perceptions of nature will be able to read about the ancient art of bonsai in the library, assist in “training” living bonsai plants in the College’s new state-of-the-art greenhouse, and view representations of the culturing of nature in objects from Dickinson’s Trout Gallery.  Just as our understanding of these many facets of the problem of sustainability is as yet incomplete, our multi-year journey will be a work in progress in which students, faculty and our broader community at Dickinson and Carlisle and among our several partner institutions in Asia, will be invited to play leadership roles.

We invite our community to join us in the courses, lectures, films, overseas study experiences (for current Dickinson students) and many other events already planned for this and succeeding years.  The plans and the events themselves will be announced, reported on and archived through our student-led Website.

For more information, click here!