“…to encourage innovative approaches to Asian studies teaching and research at the undergraduate level through the lens of the environment and sustainable development.” – The Henry Luce Foundation
In 2015, The Claremont Colleges received a grant from The Henry Luce Foundation’s Luce Initiative on Asian Studies and the Environment (LIASE) to launch EnviroLab Asia. The 2015-2016 academic year focused on the theme “From Land to Sea: Nature, Culture, and Asia’s Ecosystem.” Co-Principal Investigators Albert Park (CMC), Char Miller (Pomona), and Kyoko Kurita (Pomona) laid the foundation to build this unique initiative. In 2017, The Claremont Colleges received the next round of funding from LIASE program with the award of an Implementation grant to expand EnviroLab Asia’s research and activities until 2021. The theme of the Implementation grant is “Environmental Infrastructures in Asia: Nature, Networks and People in the Anthropocene.” This next phase of EnviroLab Asia draws exhaustively from the lessons learned and challenges overcome during the incredibly successful exploration phase of the project, which created the beginnings of a dynamic, interdisciplinary, intercollege, Pacific Rim collaboration that the Colleges are eager to build out.
In its first year (2015-2016), EnviroLab Asia created a community of faculty and students invested in advancing scholarship on environmental issues in Asia through the following activities:
- 9 redeveloped courses in the Departments of Modern Languages, Asian Studies, and Environmental Analysis that incorporated the themes of environmental issues in Asia to enhance the curriculum.
- 2 Research Clusters that mixed faculty and students from various disciplines across the five colleges to study environmental issues in Asia. Work from the Research Clusters can be seen in the digital-native publication EnviroLab Asia, which is done in collaboration with the Honnold-Mudd Libary.
- a 10-day Clinic Trip to Singapore and Borneo, conducted in partnership with Yale-National University of Singapore (Yale-NUS), where faculty and students witnessed first-hand the issues of development, sustainability, food systems, and human rights intersecting with environmental issues in Asia. The trip included meetings with non-governmental organizations, indigenous communities opposing a proposed dam, palm oil plantations, and organic farms.
- the “Workshop for Change” event, led by Malaysian Chinese composer Yii Kah Hoe, a teacher of music composition and theory at Segi College in Kuala Lumpur and environmental activist who uses performing arts to focus media attention on significant environmental issues.
- a conference, “Globalization & Sovereignty: Examining Environmental Issues in Asia,” which brought students and faculty at the the Southern California LIASE programs (The Claremont Colleges, Occidental and Whittier College) together.