Since its founding, CUGS has been highly successful in developing an intellectual identity that encompasses academic study both on campus and abroad. Links to Hartford’s local communities were built into the package to create a smooth interface between global study efforts and our home base of Hartford.

Summer programming in China and elsewhere in Asia began several years before the Henry Luce Foundation awarded funding for our River Cities and Sustainable Development Program. In the early years and throughout the run of the Luce grant Professor Lestz, as Director of the O’Neill Asia Cum Laude Endowment and Charlotte Riggs Scholarship Fund, fueled this effort by providing scholarship funding to enable the recruitment of a diverse and talented group of students to join the interdisciplinary efforts in China and elsewhere in Asia that were undertaken. The Thomas Scholarship Endowment, managed by the Center for Urban and Global Studies nourished student scholarship with extremely valuable aid for students and summer programs.

When the Luce Foundation announced its competition for grant applications designed to tie together Asian Studies and Environmental Science, Trinity was well placed to apply for support because Professors Lestz and Morrison, working with CUGS, had already conceptualized and launched a set of teaching endeavors in harmony with the Foundation’s aims. Thus, as Chen, Lestz, and Morrison wrote two grant proposals to gain Luce support, they were sustained by an independent record of accomplishment plus standing proof that Trinity College support was forthcoming in the form of scholarships to strengthen the new Luce endeavor.

As administrators and the teaching faculty of the summer study abroad program, Chen, Lestz, and Morrison formed a cross-disciplinary team as CUGS mounted our program that provided students with an interdisciplinary perspective to view many cities across East and Southeast Asia. The program focused on field investigations of urban development in river basins in China, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam. visiting several cities allowed the students to ponder issues such as historical preservation, environmental degradation, sustainability, and finding the means to support and nourish growing city populations. Participating Trinity students came to understand the dynamics of urban population growth, infrastructure needs, the historical background of cities, environmental impacts and planning imperatives as Asia’s cities grow and form the most vibrant urban tapestry in the world.

-Michael Lestz (History) and Joan Morrison (Environmental Science)
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