Grant supports innovative teaching about Asia and sustainability

As part of the Luce Initiative on Asian Studies and the Environment (LIASE), Willamette University has received a $50,000 grant from the Luce Foundation to support innovative teaching and learning about Asia and sustainability.  

"Sustainability and the Pacific Rim" will unite the resources of the Centers for Sustainable Communities and Asian Studies — empowering students and faculty from numerous disciplines to explore Asian culture through the lens of environmental sustainability.

Through the highly collaborative project, Willamette will strengthen its Asian Studies and Sustainability program and deepen its connections with Asian university partners, says professor Ron Loftus, who worked with professor Joe Bowersox to secure the 16-month exploratory grant.

“My hope for students is that they will have transformative experiences each year thanks to the programs that will be made possible by this grant,” Loftus says. 
LIASE is a competitive program between small-liberal arts colleges, which work to synthesize Asian and environmental studies to increase awareness about environmental issues. The exploratory grant includes the possibility of receiving a larger, long-term grant, Loftus says. 

There are five parts to Willamette’s proposed plan. Lesson plans concerning environmental issues and how they relate to Asia will be incorporated into Willamette classes, and yearly speakers will address the student body in lectures.

The Japanese Studies Program, which sends American students to Japan, will be expanded to include science students, and Zena Sustainability Institute will increase its opportunities for Japanese students at Willamette.

Tokyo International University and Willamette will also collaborate to offer post-sessions in Japan, which will further students’ experiences through research and service-learning opportunities, Loftus says.

“I see us continuing to engage students and further their passion for Japan and the environment,” he says.