See Where Our Scholars Have Explored
In any given year, Luce Scholars are living and working throughout Northeast, Southeast, and South Asia. They are in big cities and small villages, working in such diverse fields as public health, the arts, economic development, environmental science, and many more. The Scholars contribute their talents to NGOs, government agencies, private companies, universities, think tanks, and museums. You can see where this year’s Scholars are in the map below or use the filters to customize your view. You can also use the directory of scholars to search all cohorts, countries, and fields.
The Luce Scholars Program is a nationally competitive fellowship program. It was launched by the Henry Luce Foundation in 1974 to enhance the understanding of Asia among potential leaders in American society. The program provides stipends, language training, and individualized professional placement in Asia for 15-18 Luce Scholars each year, and welcomes applications from college seniors, graduate students, and young professionals in a variety of fields who have had limited exposure to Asia.
The program, open to both U.S. citizens and permanent residents, is unique among American-Asian exchanges in that it is intended for young leaders who have had limited experience of Asia and who might not otherwise have an opportunity in the normal course of their careers to come to know Asia. Those who already have significant experience in Asia or Asian studies are not eligible for the Luce Scholars Program.
On the other hand, candidates may have taken Asian language or Asia-focused courses (without majoring in Asian Studies). They may have spent up to a total of eighteen weeks in countries where Luce Scholars are placed.
Luce Scholars have backgrounds in virtually every field other than Asian studies, including but not limited to the arts, journalism, law, medicine, science, public health, environmental studies, and international relations.
Luce Scholar candidates are nominated by seventy-five colleges and universities. A completed online application necessary for institutional endorsement is due by early or mid-October at most participating schools.
Successful candidates should have a record of high achievement, outstanding leadership ability, and clearly defined interests with evidence of potential for professional accomplishments. After two rounds of one-on-one interviews, the new class of Luce Scholars is announced in February.
In Asia, the program is administered by The Asia Foundation under a grant from the Luce Foundation and a cooperative agreement that dates from the program’s inception. The Asia Foundation, based in San Francisco, is a private not-for-profit agency active in development and education throughout Asia. Its field representatives in Asian capitals assist in identifying appropriate placements for the Scholars and in providing administrative support during the program year. A senior staff member of The Asia Foundation serves as program coordinator, working in close collaboration with the staff of the Luce Foundation.
The annual selection of fifteen to eighteen Luce Scholars is a rigorous process.
Each candidate must first be nominated by one of the 75 colleges or universities participating in the program. An interview with each nominee will be held in November and December either in person or via skype or telephone. These interviews will be conducted by either Foundation staff members or invited former Luce Scholars depending on the locations of the candidates.
Early in January, approximately forty-five finalists will be selected from the pool of nominees on the basis of both the documentation submitted and interviews conducted, without regard to geography or professional interests. The finalists will be invited to appear, at Foundation expense, before one of three independent selection committees that meet in early February. The Luce Foundation determines the specific selection committee before which a given finalist is invited to appear, primarily on the basis of proximity. The members of a selection committee will each personally interview the fifteen finalists appearing before the committee, from whom five to six Luce Scholars will be chosen. All candidates will receive timely notification. All fifteen to eighteen Luce Scholars will have been named by mid-February. Consultations with the new Luce Scholars about possible placements in Asia begin immediately thereafter.
Each of the selection committees is composed of six distinguished Americans from a wide range of professional backgrounds who serve as advisors to the foundation. Selectors are drawn from the following list:
Terrence B. Adamson, Vice President, Global Law Affairs, Boeing
Judith A. Berling, Professor Emerita, Chinese and Comparative Religions, Graduate Theological Union
Jan C. Berris, Vice President, National Committee on United States-China Relations, Inc.
Richard C. Bush, Senior Fellow, Director, Center for Northeast Asian Policy Studies, Chen-Fu and Cecilia Yen Koo Chair in Taiwan Studies, The Brookings Institution
John C. Bussey, Assistant Managing Editor, Executive Business Editor, Columnist, The Wall Street Journal
Edward C. DuMont, Solicitor General of California
William P. Fuller, President Emeritus, The Asia Foundation
Leonard (Lee) Hockstader, Member, Editorial Board, Washington Post
Debra S. Knopman, Senior Principal Researcher, RAND Corporation; Professor, Pardee, RAND Graduate School
Wendy W. Luers, President, Foundation for a Civil Society
Kelly M. Mack, Vice President for Undergraduate STEM Education; and Executive Director, Project Kaleidoscope, Association of American Colleges and Universities
George R. Packard, President, United States-Japan Foundation
Lynn S. Paine, John G. McLean Professor of Business Administration and Senior Associate Dean for Faculty Development, Harvard Business School
Ralph Samuelson, Senior Advisor and former Director, Asian Cultural Council
Emily J. Sano, Director Emerita, Asian Art Museum of San Francisco
Margaret A. Scott, Journalist; Adjunct Professor, Wagner School, New York University
Nirav Shah, Director of the Illinois Department of Public Health
Michael E. St. Louis, Chief Science Officer for Global Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Missie Rennie Taylor, Media Consultant; Trustee Emerita, The Asia Foundation; Trustee, Asian Cultural Council
Zim Ugochuckwu, Founder, Travel Noire
David C. Viotti, Founder, CEO, SMALLIFY Innovation Lab; Faculty, Executive Leadership Program, University of California, Berkeley; Executive Director, The Westly Foundation
Susan Wallace, Former Director, ING Baring Securities
Lulu Wang, Associate, Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner, LLP
Fred Wherry, Professor of Sociology and Departmental Representative, Princeton University
Pauline Yu, President, American Council of Learned Societies
Luce Scholars gain new perspectives and cultural insights on their host countries through immersive living and working experiences in Asia. A professional placement is individually arranged for each Scholar on the basis of his or her professional interest, background, and qualifications.
Luce Scholars receive a monthly stipend from the Luce Foundation during their Luce year. The stipend, augmented when necessary by a cost-of-living allowance and a housing allowance, is sufficient to meet all of a Scholar’s normal expenses in Asia. Although Luce Scholars occupy professional positions in Asian institutions or agencies as a part of their assignment, they receive no compensation from their local hosts.
Placements can be made in the following countries or regions: Cambodia, China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, Malaysia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam.
In spite of its name, the Luce Scholars Program is experiential rather than academic in nature. Some Scholars have been attached to Asian universities in teaching or research capacities, but none of the participants is formally enrolled as a student in a college or university and no academic credit is extended. The placements are intended primarily as learning opportunities for the Scholars. Certainly it is hoped that a Scholar will be able to make a professional contribution to the host organization, but equally important is a willingness to learn some of the many things that Asia has to teach.
Specific placements have included an architect’s atelier in Tokyo; a public health program in Banda Aceh; a Gobi regional initiative in Ulaanbaatar; a dance theatre in Kuala Lumpur; an agricultural and environmental center in Hanoi; a human rights commission in Seoul; a pediatric hospital in Bangkok; a TV network in Beijing; a national museum in Siem Reap; an international arbitration centre in Singapore; and English-language newspapers, local governmental agencies and NGOs in diverse fields throughout East and Southeast Asia.
The program is designed as a cultural experience first and foremost. Each Scholar’s placement provides a professional venue and perspective, but the assignments themselves must be viewed as a mechanism through which to gain a broader understanding and appreciation of the culture in which one is living. As a purely professional experience, the year in Asia may not prove as satisfying as a similar assignment at home, often due to differences in management styles, political systems, work environments, and resource limitations. However, the insight gained through the year of cultural immersion and professional enrichment often makes their time in Asia a transformative experience for many Luce Scholars.
“The Luce Scholar Year” involves a commitment of about thirteen months, from mid-June until late July of the following year.
Since none of the Scholars – by definition – has a deep background in Asian affairs, the program year commences with an orientation designed to give an overview of contemporary Asia and address practical concerns about living in Asia that will assist the Scholars in making the most of their placements. The Luce Foundation convenes an eight-day orientation program in New York City in the second half of June, where Luce Scholars have an opportunity to get to know and bond with each other, as the "cohort effect" of a close-knit community of 18 Luce Scholars placed in different parts of Asia is a key to their success. They will meet with some leading scholars and professionals who have made Asia the focus for their careers. The Scholars depart from New York for their individual placement countries.
Luce Scholars spend July and August engaging in intensive language training in their respective placement countries. Since the program is geared to non-specialists, prior knowledge of an Asian language is not a criterion for selection. However, language study is a program requirement and is supported financially by the Luce Foundation. The level of language proficiency directly impacts the quality of a Scholar’s professional interactions and appreciation of cultural subtleties in the country where the Scholar is placed. All Scholars are encouraged to continue language study throughout their year in Asia, and special funds are available for this purpose.
Individual placements generally commence in September and last until late June of the following year. These assignments, where Luce Scholars work alongside Asian colleagues, are the heart of the Luce Scholars Program. In late October, Scholars meet for a week in one of the Asian cities for an early assessment of their experiences in Asia. Ample time is provided for discussion among individual Scholars and with the foundation staff. The goal of the meeting is to help the Scholars address potential professional and personal frustrations they might feel after the initial euphoria and develop new perspectives essential to their success in Asia.
In July, at the end of their Luce year in Asia, the Scholars gather once more for a wrap-up meeting. Each Scholar is required to make a presentation at this meeting on his or her experiences in Asia. Past venues have included Davao City in the southern Philippines, Chiang Mai in northern Thailand, Ulaanbaatar in Mongolia, Danang on Vietnam’s coast and Kunming in Southwestern China.
At the conclusion of the wrap-up meeting, the program year ends. Air transportation is provided for all travel required by the program. Besides monthly stipend and applicable housing and cost-of-living allowances, the foundation also subsidizes the shipment of personal effects. Finally, medical and travel insurance are provided for all Scholars and their accompanying spouses.
Michelle directs the day-to-day administration of the Luce Scholars program including all meetings and events. During her tenure at the Foundation she has also worked as Program Assistant on the Luce Scholars and Clare Boothe Luce Programs. Prior to joining the Luce Foundation in 1990, she worked as a jewelry designer and taught 6th-12th grade art. She holds a B.A. and a teaching certificate in fine arts from Ohio Wesleyan University. Michelle also serves on the Board of Trustees of the Morris Educational Foundation.