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Alumni Profile: Lindsay Burnette BA ’12

April 23, 2014

Lindsay Burnette BA ’12

Major: East Asian Studies
Hometown: Fort Collins, Colorado

Can you describe your Fulbright award, where you will be traveling, and what you’ll be doing while you’re there? 

My award will allow me to study the environmental and cultural challenges of rapid urbanization through the lens of South Korea’s cultural landscapes and contemporary landscape design projects. I plan to look at traditional South Korean design principles and their impact on contemporary landscape development, analyzing globally applicable ideas for creating a localized sense of place and addressing environmental issues. My proposed research sites are in South Korea’s capital, Seoul, and my affiliation is with Seoul National University, though I hope to explore and travel throughout the country.

What drew you to the Fulbright and what excites you about researching in a foreign country?

My first experience living abroad was when I was 10 and my mom received a Fulbright fellowship to research in Japan. This experience greatly influenced the course of my life. I continued to study Japanese, majored in East Asian studies at Lewis & Clark, and returned to Japan to study during college. I am excited to return to East Asia to conduct research of my own and open new realms of possibilities.

During my time at Lewis & Clark, I developed a passion for learning a place’s history and culture through the physical landscape. After graduating, I became involved with a number of nonprofit organizations in Portland that are based around community development and design, such as the Portland Japanese Garden and Architects Without Borders—Oregon. I also attended a landscape architecture program at Harvard University. These experiences, combined with the knowledge I gained at Lewis & Clark, urged me to continue learning from the landscape on a global level. South Korea is particularly intriguing because over the past century it has experienced profound cultural disconnection and physical destruction due to the Japanese annexation of Korea in 1910 and the Korean War in 1953.

Following this massive destruction, waves of urban renewal took over South Korea’s remaining traditional cityscapes, leaving behind a country that is almost 84 percent urbanized and has very little historic fabric still existing. For me, this is a fascinating setting to study cultural history as it is embodied in the urban landscape. 

Have you participated in any study abroad trips during your time at Lewis & Clark? If so, what was that experience like?

Yes, I studied in Japan during my junior year. It was an incredible experience and also very challenging. I enjoyed the independence that allowed me to immerse myself in the culture and study exactly what I was interested in. Because that was the spring that the tsunami hit Fukushima, it was in many ways a poignant experience that gave me insight into many cultural intricacies and differences that I wouldn’t have seen or understood otherwise. The time I spent in Japan has definitely influenced my proposed research for South Korea.

How do you think your Lewis & Clark education has contributed to you seeing yourself as a citizen in a global community?

I chose Lewis & Clark because of its focus on international relations and global understanding. Students and professors seem to share the understanding that living abroad and among a new culture is invaluable to one’s education and personal growth. I am grateful for the classes and professors that helped me build the skills and understanding needed to travel and study abroad. 

What are your plans for the future, and how do you think your Fulbright experience will figure in those plans?

Although getting to South Korea is about as far as I can think at the moment, in the future I plan on attending graduate school for landscape architecture with a focus on community development and historic preservation. I want to understand the discipline from all different angles and I feel that the Fulbright research fellowship in Korea is a great way to go about this. I envision the Fulbright as a bridge unifying my past experiences and opening up opportunities for future study, work, and personal development. 

Any advice to share with other Lewis & Clark students applying for similar awards in the future?

Just apply! One of the greatest things about Fulbright grants is their openness and flexibility. You can propose to research whatever you want as long as it is meaningful, feasible, and you have support behind it. This freedom forced me to sort out exactly what I want to study and do in the future, which in itself has been extremely valuable. I would encourage students to take advantage of the resources they have around them at Lewis & Clark, and then using those resources, dream high and far. 

Is there anything else you’d like to say to future Lewis & Clark students?

Maintain the relationships and connections you’ve built at Lewis & Clark, while you give yourself some time out of college to explore your interests in a non-academic setting. I think both are essential.

East Asian Studies


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