Luce Scholars

Latest Stories
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Meet the 18 outstanding individuals selected as the newest Luce Scholars.
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Laura Marsolek describes living in a historic fort in Jodhpur, India, examining ancient metalwork by day and crafting her own jewelry by night.
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Scholar Jessie Moravek discusses the many miles she has traveled while living in Kathmandu, Nepal.
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Isabel Ball recounts her unexpected opportunity to practice her language skills, live on a Thai radio programming broadcast.
Read the Article
arrow-left
Meet the 18 outstanding individuals selected as the newest Luce Scholars.
Read the Article
Laura Marsolek describes living in a historic fort in Jodhpur, India, examining ancient metalwork by day and crafting her own jewelry by night.
Read the Article
Scholar Jessie Moravek discusses the many miles she has traveled while living in Kathmandu, Nepal.
Read the Article
Isabel Ball recounts her unexpected opportunity to practice her language skills, live on a Thai radio programming broadcast.
Read the Article

Luce Scholars

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.

View all past scholars by their area of professional interest or visit the Directory for more detailed search options.

Overview

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.

Selection Process

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.

Placement

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.

Program Year

“The Luce Scholar Year” involves a commitment of about thirteen months, from mid-June until late July of the following year.

Orientation

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.

Language

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.

Placement

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.

Wrap-Up

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.

Program Administrators

Program Director: Li Ling

Ling has directed the Foundation’s Luce Scholars Program since 2009 and concurrently serves as the program officer for the Asia Program. Previously, Ling served as the director of transnational initiatives at the National Committee on United States-China Relations and practiced law at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP, both in New York. He also worked for the intergovernmental International Organization for Migration as a program officer in its Geneva Headquarters and in its Washington, DC and Vienna Missions. Ling is a native of Wuhan, China, and studied at the Institute of International Relations in Beijing from 1988-1991. He received his BA in comparative literature from Brigham Young University and has an MA in international relations from Syracuse University’s Maxwell School and a JD from Columbia University Law School.

Program Associate: Michelle Douenias

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.

Carat Up

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