With support from a grant from the Luce Initiative on Asian Studies and the Environment (LIASE), students, faculty, and staff at Oberlin College recently traveled to China as part of two interdisciplinary study tours—one in Sichuan Province examining how cultural norms influence environmental attitudes and park management in the country and another to Hong Kong where participants explored environmental studies through the lens of social justice in collaboration with peers at Lingnan University and the Education University of Hong Kong. Over the past three years, LIASE activity has extended to many parts of campus including related art exhibitions, lectures, and faculty curriculum development.
The Luce Initiative on Asian Studies (LIASE) implementation grant from the Henry Luce Foundation emphasizes integrative approaches to confronting environmental problems.
This winter term, students, faculty, and staff traveled to China on two LIASE grant-sponsored study tours. The trips, Parks and the Environment and Community-Based Environmental Studies: Hong Kong-U.S. Transnational Partnership and Exchange, took place in Sichuan Province and in Hong Kong, respectively.
Oberlin is in its third year of the five-year LIASE implementation grant to expand teaching and research at the intersection of Asian and environmental studies. The grant has supported winter term and summer study tours to East Asia, exhibitions at the Allen Memorial Art Museum, on-campus lecture series, and faculty curriculum development grants. A two-year postdoctoral fellow will also teach anthropology courses on Asia and the environment.
Ann Sherif, professor of Japanese and codirector of the LIASE Implementation grant, says that she and Professor of Geology Steven Wojtal, grant codirector, are especially proud of how the grant’s implementation has spanned myriad parts of campus, including the College of Arts and Sciences, Conservatory of Music, Bonner Center for Service and Learning, Oberlin Shansi, and the Allen Memorial Art Museum (AMAM).
Oberlin’s ethos and teaching approaches are innately interdisciplinary, and this same thinking is at the forefront of what the LIASE grant seeks to promote. The LIASE grant aims to confront environmental issues from a plurality of viewpoints and disciplines—not just from environmental studies—and with a strong emphasis on knowledge of Asian cultures, societies, and languages.
True to the grant’s philosophy that environmental problems are best addressed from numerous perspectives, the grant has acted as the impetus for cross-campus discussions about environmental challenges.