St. Olaf project on Asia and the environment attracts Luce Foundation award

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The Henry Luce Foundation awarded St. Olaf College $400,000 to refine and expand an interdisciplinary project on environmental issues in Asia.

Environmental Connections began in 2012 with an exploration grant from the Luce Initiative on Asian Studies and the Environment. This program aims to train the next generation of experts on global environmental challenges by coupling the study of Asian culture and language with knowledge about environmental systems and practices to promote sustainability.

Pursued jointly by the departments of Asian Studies and Environmental Studies, Environmental Connections creates new opportunities for faculty and students to conduct research in and about Asia and the environment. The project also promotes awareness of environmental concerns and solutions in Asia among students, faculty, and the greater St. Olaf community. Finally, the project deepens current collaborations between St. Olaf and partner institutions in Asia, including Lanzhou University in China and the Asian Rural Institute in Japan.

“One primary commitment is to shift discussion toward emerging, innovative solutions to environmental issues in Asia, and away from the premise that Asia is only a source of environmental problems,” says Associate Professor of Chemistry and Chair of Environmental Studies Paul Jackson ’92, who participates in the project.

The Environmental Connections initiative builds environmental knowledge on a sound foundation of linguistic and cultural competence about China and Japan.

The Henry Luce Foundation was established in 1936 by the late Henry R. Luce, co-founder and editor-in-chief of Time Inc., to honor his parents, who were missionary educators in China. The 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 and Southeast Asia; Luce Scholars; Theology; Higher Education; the Henry R. Luce Initiative on Religion and International Affairs; Public Policy; and the Clare Boothe Luce Program for women in science, mathematics, and engineering.


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