Lawrence University: Sustainable China: Lawrence University interdisciplinary initiative awarded $400,000 grant

For Immediate Release
November 26, 2012

APPLETON, WIS. — A $400,000 grant from the New York City-based Henry Luce Foundation will support Lawrence University’s long-standing commitment to engaging students with East Asia through the college’s distinctively integrated, multi-disciplinary initiative “Sustainable China: Integrating Culture, Conservation and Commerce.”

The four-year grant builds on two previous Luce Foundation planning grants for $50,000 and $30,000 that helped Lawrence lay the groundwork for the development of courses, study-abroad opportunities and collaborative research projects examining critical issues in sustainability.

The latest grant will enable Lawrence to expand partnerships with two Chinese institutions. Guizhou Normal University is home to the Institute of China South Karst. Lawrence and the Karst Institute have successfully collaborated previously to improve understanding of how culture, conservation and commerce must be integrated for true sustainability. The Linden Centre serves as a retreat for those studying how traditional Chinese culture meshes with modern economic development in an ecologically responsible way.

The Linden Center was created by Brian and Jeanee Linden, who also operate the Linden Gallery in Ellison Bay, which specializes in Asian art. The gallery is not far from Lawrence’s Door County Bjorklunden estate.

A Three-Prong Approach
The “Sustainable China” initiative is a multi-disciplinary collaboration among Lawrence’s East Asian Studies and Environmental Studies programs, including faculty in biology, Chinese and Japanese language and culture, economics, government and history. The program provides opportunities for student engagement with issues of economic growth, environmental sustainability and a shifting cultural landscape.
The program’s mission is threefold:

• broaden and deepen Lawrence student engagement with China through the curriculum

• diversify and expand opportunities for students to gain first-hand experience with China

• promote mutually beneficial partnerships with organizations in China

“This grant offers our students first-hand experiences in China with study tours to both rural and urban sites as well as research opportunities on environmental and cultural issues, such as ethnic minorities and economic development, ” said Jane Parish Yang, associate professor of Chinese at Lawrence, who will co-direct the “Sustainable China” program for the first year.

Three “Cs” of Sustainability
The program approaches China’s competing and conflicting perspectives on development and the environment by focusing on three ” Cs” of sustainability:

• Culture — language, history and the roles of ethnic minorities

• Conservation — the importance of establishing governance systems and social institutions that encourage both public and private actors to be good stewards of natural resources

• Commerce — an alliterative substitute for economic vitality, reflecting the perspective that environmental sustainability should be pursued in ways that also drive broader prosperity and economic sustainability

“In today’s world it is vitally important students grapple with the complexity of sustainability, transcending the purely scientific and environmental issues to encompass economic, political and cultural factors as well and China offers an ideal context for such study,” said Merton Finkler, professor of economics who will co-direct the program its first year. “The interdisciplinary nature of our program offers a distinctive lens through which our students will study China, one based on the assertion that sustainability must address various perspectives for how scarce resources are allocated and managed.”

Last November, a Luce Foundation grant supported a 19-day study tour to China for 13 students and four faculty members for an investigation of water resource management issues.

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.
About Lawrence University

Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a world-class conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the Fiske Guide to Colleges 2013 and the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.” Individualized learning, the development of multiple interests and community engagement are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,450 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries. Follow Lawrence on Facebook.