A Trio of Connected Initiatives

by Xiangming Chen, Dean and Director

A key to the success of urban-global programming at Trinity over the last few years since the
launch of the Center for Urban and Global Studies (CUGS) in 2007 is the consistent focus on linking and
integrating local (Hartford-based) and global aspects of urban studies and engagement on one hand,
bridging classroom and experiential learning across multiple field sites. It also involves building strong
connections between faculty teaching and research and student learning and research that span the
local-global nexus. To illustrate how we have implemented this integrated strategy, we provide an
account for a trio of initiatives at different stages of execution that have intersected and reinforced each
other’s strengths with synergistic benefits for both students and faculty.

 

I. River Cities in Asia

Following seven years of highly successful summer programming (2009-2015) through a
number of major river cities in China and Southeast Asia, which has already graduated 115 Trinity
students, the eighth edition of the program, in June 2016, will take a group of students to the Pearl River
Delta (PRD) region in southern China, where they will investigate critical historical, socioeconomic, and
environmental questions confronting the cities of Guangzhou, Dongguan, Shenzhen, and Hong Kong in
the PRD. Studying these dynamic cities sequentially and in close connections offers a fascinating way to
glimpse and access the various facets of sustainable development in the PRD that is expected to become
a regionalized megalopolis of over 60 million people by the year 2020. The program will carry 1.5
course credits in Urban Studies and International Studies and a one-half Chinese language credit through
the initial classroom learning and field visits in Hartford and subsequent traveling instruction by four
Trinity professors (Michael Lestz, Garth Myers, Yipeng Shen, and Xiangming Chen) and local experts.
This program, under the aegis of CUGS, has been generously supported by The Henry Luce Foundation
(see below), the Thomas Urban China Studies Endowment, the O’Neill Asia Cum Laude Endowment,
and the Charlotte Riggs Scholarship Fund at Trinity College.

II. The Luce Foundation Grant

In 2012 The Henry Luce Foundation awarded a four-year Luce Initiative on Asian Studies and
the Environment (LIASE) grant to Trinity College to support its “Integrating Asian Studies and
Environmental Science in a Distinctive Liberal Arts Context Focusing on Urban and Global
Phenomena” initiative. Administered by the Center for Urban and Global Studies (CUGS), the grant has
created a myriad of programming opportunities that have drawn the participation of over a dozen faculty
members from a number of departments and programs. To mention a few highlights of what we have
accomplished with this grant, it has provided: 1) supplementary support to the River Cities program
above, 2) major funding to the launch of new Japan summer program in 2015, 3) full funding for the
summer field research projects by 15 Trinity students in China and Southeast Asia, and 4) full funding
for two Luce Foundation Visiting Scholars from China thus far who have taught a sustainable
development class at Trinity in spring of 2014 and 2016 including Zhengli Huang (see p. 6 of this
newsletter). As the Luce grant is winding down, we are planning to bring two more Luce Foundation
Visiting Scholars from Asia to teach at Trinity in the AY 2016-17 and complete other planned
programming activities.

III. The New Fudan-Trinity Faculty Exchange Program

On June 16, 2015, President Berger-Sweeney signed a new MOU on faculty exchange on
behalf of Trinity College with Fudan University in Shanghai. This has taken Trinity’s strong
partnership with one of China’s top-ranked universities since 2011 to a new and more comprehensive
level. Over the last few years, over 20 Trinity students have studied at Fudan for one semester or an
entire academic year. Separately, Fudan University has provided tuition and room/board scholarships
from the Shanghai municipal government to 10 Trinity students to participate in a summer program
comprising Chinese studies courses and Mandarin during the last three years. On the faculty side, three
Trinity faculty members (Mary Lewis and Alice Hyland in Art History and Yipeng Shen in Language
and Culture Studies and International Studies) taught a one-month summer course at Fudan in 2013,
2014, and 2015, respectively. In spring 2014, Professor Michael Lestz in the History Department
taught a semester-long course at Fudan University and worked with a number of Trinity students
enrolled in the Trinity-in-Shanghai program.
The signing of the new MOU by President Berger-Sweeney has launched a faculty exchange
program with Trinity and Fudan. The MOU allows one faculty member from Trinity and Fudan to
teach at the other institution as a visiting professor. Main funding for this program is provided by the
China Urban Studies Teaching and Research Endowment set up by recent Trinity Trustee Karen
Kelsey Thomas ’78, P’13 and her husband David F. Thomas P’13, while Fudan University will offer
supplementary financial support such as a housing allowance. This program may also support
short-term visits for teaching and lecturing by Trinity and Fudan faculty to either school. In fall 2016,
Lizhu Fan and Na Chen will be the first two Fudan professors teaching two courses for the Department
of Religion and the International Studies Program at Trinity.

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