Occidental Awarded $50K Luce Grant
Occidental College has been awarded a $50,000 exploratory grant from theHenry Luce Foundation to support a year of planning to develop a new Occidental-China Environment Program, building on Occidental’s historic ties to Asia and the expertise of its Urban & Environmental Policy Institute (UEPI).
“The new Luce grant will provide Oxy students and faculty with an extraordinary opportunity to work with Chinese institutions on environmental issues, especially on climate change and air quality issues,” said professor of American Studies Xiao-huang Yin, who will lead the planning effort with professors of urban and environmental policy Martha Matsuoka and Robert Gottlieb. Gottlieb is also director of the Urban and Environmental Policy Institute.
“It also will help us better understand a critical aspect of the U.S.-China relationship, which has become unarguably the most important bilateral tie in our rapidly and increasingly globalized world,” Yin said.
The grant from the foundation’s newly launched Luce Initiative on Asian Studies and the Environment will allow Occidental to engage a wide range of faculty in discussions about how to structure the program and deepen partnerships with institutions in Hong Kong and Nanjing.
Immediate outcomes will be a pilot project focused on the environmental ramifications of trade in the Pacific Rim and the introduction of environmental issues in some of Occidental’s East Asian studies literature courses. In the long term, the grant will aid development of both environmental and East Asian studies curricula and strengthen the College’s position as a Pacific Rim institution with close ties to East Asia.
Occidental’s East Asian Languages and Cultures Department offers a major in Chinese or Japanese with a focus on language, literature and cultures, and a major in East Asian studies with a focus on a particular disciplinary issue such as art history, history, politics, religion, or transnational issues.
The College’s academic links to Asia date back to 1916, when it hired its first Asian faculty member, K.S. Inui, to teach Japanese history, and entered into its first overseas study program with Hangchow Christian College in China.
Occidental launched its innovative Asian studies curriculum in the 1960s, and the program developed steadily over the next few decades. A minor in Asian studies was established in the 1970s, and a formal academic program offering a major in the field began in 1989. A 2000 Luce grant made it possible for the College to further expand the program by hiring a full-time professor of Japanese history. In 1996, Occidental received a grant from the foundation’s Henry R. Luce Professorship Program to establish a senior professorship in a discipline of the College’s choice, enabling the College to appoint Gottlieb as professor of urban and environmental policy.
Occidental also has had great success in producing Luce Scholars, the nationally competitive fellowship program that provides individualized professional placement in Asia. Daisy Larios '07 was recently named one of 18 winners of the Luce Scholars program for 2011-12. She is Occidental’s 14th Luce Scholar since the program was initiated in 1974 and the College's third winner in three years.
The Henry Luce Foundation was established in 1936 by Henry R. Luce, the co-founder and editor-in-chief of Time Inc., to honor his parents, who were missionary educators in China. The Henry Luce 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. Its work today includes grant-making programs that support American art, East Asia, higher education, theology, public policy and the environment, and women in science, mathematics and engineering.