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Bard College Awarded Luce Exploration Grant for Environmental Studies in Asia

Jennifer Wai-Lan Huang
ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, N.Y.––Bard College has been awarded an exploration grant of $50,000 from the Henry Luce Foundation through the Luce Initiative on Asian Studies and the Environment (LIASE) for the project Slow Water: Rivers and Community in Asia. This generous grant will support faculty in developing innovative ways of integrating the study of Asia and the environment into the core of Bard’s interdisciplinary program curricula, adhering to Bard’s fundamental belief that education should be global in orientation and reach.

With the support of the LIASE grant beginning in April 2012, Slow Water: Rivers and Community in Asia will solidify Bard’s existing research and teaching partnerships in China, Japan, and South Korea; pilot strategies for effective service and experiential learning opportunities; and synthesize ideas and opportunities gained across these different partner sites at a mini-conference and retreat at Bard’s Annandale campus. The grant will also support the creation of a team-taught course in Environmental Politics in East Asia, envisioned to become a joint core-course in both undergraduate programs, as well as a January term course in the graduate program on Environmental Policy in Asia.

Slow Water: Rivers and Community in Asia brings together faculty and students in Bard’s thriving Asian Studies and Environmental and Urban Studies (EUS) programs, as well as in the graduate Center for Environmental Policy (CEP), with the purpose of long-term integrated engagement with the environment and Asia. Coordinated by associate professor of anthropology Laura Kunreuther and assistant professor of anthropology Yuka Suzuki, Slow Water: Rivers and Community in Asia takes as its organizing concept “slow water”—water that in the past was trapped by healthy ecosystems and retained for use throughout the year. “Slow water” is both a global water management philosophy and a metaphor for attempting to understand historical, cultural, ethical, scientific, environmental, and economic relationships between people in Asia and their water, as it moves from the mountains to the sea.

In China, Bard’s Slow Water project will work to create a two-week field course and research opportunities focusing on forest protection and water management in Southern China. The course will extend from Bard in China Program’s summer intensive Qingdao language program, and also be open to non-Chinese majors from Bard, Bard College at Simon’s Rock, and potentially other partner schools in the LIASE network. Students will spend one-week studying water management at Lake Poyang, and a second week learning about fengshuilin (fengshui forests traditionally providing water management in rural China). Student teams will also participate in scientific or cultural data development to support a better understanding of fengshui forest systems. Furthermore, Christopher Coggins, associate professor of geology (Simon’s Rock), and Li-hua Ying, associate professor of Chinese language and literature, will work with Chinese research partners to establish a jointly managed GIS database on the distribution of fengshui forests (by county) throughout southern China; to identify additional sites for field investigation; to develop affiliations with academic institutions and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in China interested in hosting research exchanges and internships, including an exchange that will bring Chinese experts to Bard’s CEP; and to pilot an extended research internship that will run during spring 2013.

The Slow Water project will work closely with the environmental studies faculty at Kyoto Seika University, where Bard has sent students in its Japanese Program for a five-week intensive language study since 2004, to develop on-site research and internship opportunities integrated with Bard’s rigorous language program. Similar to in China, Slow Water intends to create a two-week experiential course extending from the summer language intensive. This summer, to establish the structure of the Slow Water program in Japan, Ken Haig, assistant professor of political studies, and Yuka Suzuki, assistant professor of anthropology, will travel to Kyoto Seika to coordinate with environmental studies faculty (whose expertise ranges from environmental education to management and environmental design), as well as with Kyoto-area NGOs focused on water issues. During the summer of 2013, Slow Water plans to send one Bard student engaged in Senior Project research for a pilot six- to eight-week internship with a Kyoto-area NGO.

South Korea
In South Korea, the Slow Water project will extend an existing six-year partnership with Kyung Hee University’s Global Collaborative in Suwon to include the “Sustainable Development Towards a Green Planet Program.” The research component of the Sustainable Development project will focus on slow water systems, payment for ecosystems services, and climate change impacts on water demand and supply in Korea and, more broadly, in Asia. The project will sponsor research by graduate students, advanced undergraduates, and faculty, including graduate student research internships based out of Kyung Hee. The teaching component of the project will encourage Bard and CEP faculty to teach in the Sustainable Development’s summer program beginning in the summer of 2013. Furthermore, Slow Water intends to provide scholarship support for one or two students from Bard’s partner sites to earn an MS degree from CEP, and to establish a pilot four- to six-week internship placement for a graduate student at a Korean NGO, government agency, or business for the summer and fall of 2012.

Annandale-on-Hudson, New York
In February 2013, Slow Water will host a mini-conference and retreat “Slow Water, First Lessons” at Bard’s Annandale campus to cross-fertilize and synthesize ideas, research, and service learning and curricular development across different partner sites. Participants will include one representative from each partner site. Virtual participation (via Bard’s remote classroom technology) by faculty and students at each partner institution will also be included. The conference will include lessons about both content and process—exploring similarities and differences uncovered in focusing the slow water lens on rivers and communities in China, Japan, and Korea, as well as sharing strategies for developing successful internship and experiential learning opportunities. The conference will be followed by a retreat, in which participants will work together to incorporate these first lessons into a draft proposal for long-term implementation of the integration of Asian Studies, Environmental and Urban Studies, and CEP’s policy programs in Bard’s undergraduate and graduate curricula.

For more information about Slow Water: Rivers and Community in Asia, please contact Yuka Suzuki at 845-758-7219 or


About the Environmental and Urban Studies (EUS) Program at Bard

Finding workable solutions for environmental and urban problems typically requires a broad set of methodologies. Both biogeophysical systems and human societies (cultures, economies, political regimes) are nested complex systems involving numerous interactions. Environmental and Urban Studies is a transdisciplinary program that examines the interdependence of human societies and the physical environment. The program strives to ensure that majors have a solid background in the physical sciences, the humanities, and economics and policy. We aim to enhance students’ understanding of the complexities of environmental and urban issues and their awareness of interrelationships between built and “natural” environments.

About the Asian Studies Program at Bard

The Asian Studies Program offers courses in anthropology, art history, classical studies, economics, film, gender studies, historical studies, human rights, literature, music, philosophy, political studies, religion, and theater. In consultation with a member of the program faculty, students select a regional and disciplinary focus in order to create a coherent program of study. Although the program focuses on China, Japan, and South Asia, students can investigate bordering regions such as Central Asia, Southeast Asia, the Himalayas, Korean peninsula, and Pacific Islands. Intellectual emphasis is placed on comparative perspectives, both within Asia and with other regions.

Students whose area of study involves either China or Japan are usually expected to take at least two years of language instruction in order to gain basic proficiency. Those with a focus on South Asia are encouraged to take at least one year of Sanskrit. Possibilities for further language study through study abroad and intensive summer language programs can be found through the dean of international studies. Bard offers an intensive Chinese course in the spring semester and runs summer immersion programs in China and Japan.

About the Bard Center for Environmental Policy

The Bard Center for Environmental Policy fosters education, research, and leadership on critical environmental issues. Through its academic and public programs, the Center addresses local, national, and global policy issues pertaining to the natural and built environments. Founded in 1999 and based at Bard’s Annandale-on-Hudson campus, Bard CEP offers master of science degrees in environmental policy and in climate science and policy. Each program prepares graduates to enter the workforce as skilled mediators between the world of science and the political, economic, legal, and social forces that shape environmental policy.

Students follow uniquely designed, interdisciplinary curricula that place emphasis on risk assessment, problem solving, communication skills, and leadership. Distinguished faculty share knowledge gained from academic research and practical experience in government, business, and nongovernmental organizations. A full-time, professional internship is an integral part of the training during the second year. The value of this approach has been recognized through partnerships with Pace Law School, the Master of Arts in Teaching Program at Bard College, and Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies. Bard CEP is also a partner institution with the Peace Corps in both the Master’s International and Fellows/USA programs.

About the Luce Initiative on Asian Studies and the Environment
The Luce Initiative on Asian Studies and the Environment (LIASE) was approved by the directors of the Henry Luce Foundation in November 2010. LIASE, administered by the Foundation’s Asia Program, is a competitive grants program for invited liberal arts colleges and formal associations of liberal arts colleges in the United States. LIASE aspires to encourage innovative approaches to Asian studies teaching and research at the undergraduate level through the lens of the environment and sustainable development. By inviting faculty and students to cross geographic and disciplinary boundaries, LIASE will open opportunities to increase the capacity of Asian studies faculty to teach about critical topics affecting the region and expand Asia-related content across the curriculum.

Traditionally structured around the disciplines of history, religion, anthropology, philosophy, language, and literature, Asian studies remains housed primarily within the humanities. For various reasons, students in other fields, including the physical and biological sciences, mathematics, and economics, often have relatively fewer opportunities to learn about Asia. Yet Asia’s transformation is changing the ways in which knowledge about the region is developed and taught. Asia has become prominent in campus discussions on the environment because of the environmental challenges the region presents as well as the green technologies being developed there.

Environmental challenges will require global cooperation and engagement by people with interdisciplinary training, comparative perspectives, and knowledge of local conditions and historical and cultural context. LIASE will provide incentives for faculty and students to think in new ways about Asia and the environment; energize Asian studies programs; and build bridges between the humanities, social sciences, physical and biological sciences, and policy and professional fields.

The LIASE competition begins with the award of exploration grants to support the exchange of ideas and pilot projects toward a program of activities focused on Asian studies and the environment.  Recipients of exploration grants are eligible to submit proposals for multiyear implementation grants in a second stage of the competition.

The Henry Luce Foundation ( was established in 1936 by the late Henry R. Luce, cofounder 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 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.


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This event was last updated on 05-09-2012