Professor Weiss to Direct SUNY/CUNY Southeast Asia Consortium (SEAC)


ALBANY, N.Y. (July 11, 2023) — The University at Albany has received a four-year $550,000 grant from the Henry Luce Foundation to support building a SUNY/CUNY Southeast Asia Consortium (SEAC). Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy Professor Meredith Weiss will serve as its initial director, while UAlbany history professor Michitake Aso will also work among lead faculty from various SUNY and CUNY schools.

Meredith Weiss
Professor Meredith Weiss

The Henry Luce Foundation’s Luce Initiative on Southeast Asia (LuceSEA) is a multi-year grants competition with the broad goal of strengthening the study of Southeast Asia in institutions of higher learning in North America and in Southeast Asia by providing resources for the creation of models, strategies, and partnerships that not only bolster existing program structures but also take them in new directions.

The SUNY/CUNY Southeast Asia Consortium (SEAC) aims to enhance Southeast-Asia-related teaching and research to benefit both Southeast Asian-identified and Southeast Asia-focused students and researchers. As a statewide link for faculty, students, alumni, and surrounding communities, SEAC will develop and enhance collaboration and networks across New York as well as between the United States and Southeast Asia.

Each year, SEAC will delve into one interdisciplinary theme through curricular, research, and public-outreach components as a way to explore new and emerging areas of inquiry. For the first three years, the themes will be:

  • Sites and Spaces of Mobilization and Protest (2023-24)
  • Southeast Asian Identities in Popular Culture and Literature (2024-25)
  • Climate Change, Sustainability, and Geography (2025-26)

Students statewide will have the opportunity to take an interdisciplinary course co-taught by SUNY and CUNY faculty that aligns with the year’s theme. In addition, students, faculty, and researchers will have access to supplemental programming, including lectures, research workshops, an experiential field school – the first in Chiang Mai, Thailand — as well as research, language-training, and publication grants.

Notes Professor Weiss, “The SUNY/CUNY SEAC will offer a uniquely valuable opportunity to foster and support the study of Southeast Asia across disciplines, throughout New York’s public universities. This consortium expands opportunities for students, faculty, and members of the public to engage with Southeast Asian societies and cultures, politics and histories, economies, ecosystems, and more. We are profoundly grateful to the Henry Luce Foundation for this opportunity, and excited to build new programs, networks, and possibilities.”

With 64 campuses and 370,000 students in the State University of New York (SUNY) system and 25 campuses and 270,000 students in the City University of New York (CUNY) network, SEAC has the opportunity to make New York’s public university systems a hub for the study of Southeast Asia.