University awarded grant to establish trips to Asia

The Henry Luce Foundation awarded a $50,000 grant to fund a new pilot project that will send Environmental Studies students to Southeast Asia.

The project entails a three-week study trip to Indonesia, is slated for the summer of 2014 and will create the model for more trips in the coming years.  The first trip will ferry 10 students and two professors to various Indonesian locales. The trips will include research, service work and cultural immersion. The program is underpinned with a focus on the environment.

“Puget Sound has developed strong academic investments in environmental study as well as deep connections with Southeast Asia, owing to decades of effort involving our Asian Studies program, Pacific Rim study tour, foreign student exchanges, faculty research in the region and expanding language and culture curricula,” Puget Sound President Ron Thomas said. “This funding from LIASE brings these commitments together, and will allow our students and faculty to further deepen their experiential understanding of our Asian neighbors and work with them to address local and global environmental challenges. We are deeply grateful to the foundation for this tremendous opportunity.”

Four faculty coordinators­—Gareth Barkin, Rachel DeMotts, Nick Kontogeorgopoulos and Peter Wimberger—will oversee the project in cooperation with six other professors.

“We are hoping this will be a transformative experience for students and give them new perspectives on the world,” Barkin, lead coordinator for the project, said. “They will be doing their own small-scale research projects focused on environmental concerns, and hopefully they will leave Southeast Asia with a desire to return one day and build on their experience from the course.”

Students and faculty on the inaugural trip will visit Tasikoki Wildlife Rescue and Education Center, Bunaken Island, the Tangkoko Nature Reserve’s rainforests and Jogjakarta.

“The LIASE program aims to encourage faculty and students to think in new ways about Asia and the environment and to inspire ideas to address the pressing issues of this century,” Helena Kolenda, program director for Asia at the Henry Luce Foundation, said. “We are very pleased to support this pilot of an imaginative field school program as envisaged by Puget Sound.”