Richard Charles Lee Insights through Asia Challenge


The Insights through Asia Challenge (ITAC) invites students to research an issue of direct relevance to Asia today. We’re looking for motivated students who are ready to think outside the box, to apply your classroom learning to a project that will have a meaningful, real-world impact. Projects may aim to address small issues relevant to particular localities in East, Southeast, or South Asia, that are connected to larger forces at work (e.g., global markets, socio-politics, emerging technologies and digital spaces, the environment, health, etc.). Students can propose to produce a policy report, a series of journalistic articles, a documentary film, a large-scale event, or something else entirely – what’s important is that the project is fully grounded in academic research and has a real-world application that will make a difference.

Students will prepare for the challenge through a series of workshops, gaining feedback and guidance from faculty and advisors between December 2016 and March 2017. From April to June, students will have the opportunity to travel to Asia to conduct research and put their proposals into action. In July and August students will write up their final reports and produce their deliverables. The program will culminate in September 2017 with public presentations by student awardees at the Munk School of Global Affairs.

Our goal is to support students in designing and conducting projects that aim to better understand a relevant issue or problem in Asia through an interdisciplinary lens and collaborative research. We aim to build the creative and analytical capacity of students and inspire idea generation to address the serious and complex issues that face the world today.

2016-17 Timeline


Information Session December 5
Proposal Writing Workshop January 20
Draft Proposal Deadline January 24
Application Deadline January 31
Awardees Announced February 17

PHASE 2 (for winners)

Project Management, Research Ethics, and Planning Workshop March 7
Award Ceremony March 24
Teamwork and Conflict Resolution Workshop Date TBC
Travel/Fieldwork/Research April – June
Report write-up, production of deliverables July-August
Presentation Workshop Late August
Public Presentation on Results September 28


Undergraduate and graduate students currently enrolled in the Faculty of Arts and Science at the University of Toronto. Students can apply as individuals or teams.

Award Amounts

$2,000 – $8,000


Applicants must submit the following materials as a single pdf file to, with the subject line ITAC Application:

  1. A completed Application Form including budget and itinerary (an editable word document version of the application form can be downloaded here)
  2. CVs of all team members
  3. Proposal of up to 5 pages double spaced (follow instructions on application form)


January 31, 2017


Subscribe to our mailing list for updates on the prize, workshop registration, and application deadlines.


Please address inquiries to:

Katherine MacIvor
Program Administrator and Communications Officer, Asian Institute
1 Devonshire Place, room 228N
Munk School of Global Affairs

Upcoming WORKSHOPS and Events

Award ceremony and Presentations by 2015-16 Winners / Register

March 24, 2017, 12:00-2:00 pm
Munk School of Global Affairs, 1 Devonshire Place, Room 208N

  • 2016-17 winners will be formally acknowledged
  • 2015-16 winners of the Richard Charles Lee Big Ideas Competition will present the results of their projects

Teamwork and Conflict Resolution Workshop (For Winners)

Date and Time TBC

Polishing your Presentation Workshop (for Winners)

September 2017 (Date and Time TBA)

Insights through Asia: Results 

September 28, 2017, 4:00-6:00 pm
Vivian and David Campbell Conference Facility, Munk School of Global Affairs, 1 Devonshire Place

  • Winners present their results to the public



RICHARD CHARLES LEE Insights through Asia Challenge Information Session

December 5, 2016, 12:00 – 1:00 pm
Munk School of Global Affairs, 1 Devonshire Place, Room 108N

featuring Professor Rachel Silvey (Interim Richard Charles Lee Director of the Asian Institute)

  • Introduction to the Insights through Asia Challenge
  • How the competition works
  • How to come up with a winning project idea
  • Question and answer period

Proposal Writing Workshop 

January 20, 2017, 12:00 – 1:30 pm

project management, research ethics and planning WORKSHOP (for winners)

March 7, 2017, 12:00-2:00 pm
Munk School of Global Affairs, 1 Devonshire Place, Room 208N

featuring Dr. Emily Hertzman, Postdoctoral Fellow at the Asian Institute

  • Learn about how to take your proposal and make it into an actionable plan, meet deadlines and fulfill research goals
  • Learn about the process of applying for approval with the Research Ethics Board
  • Learn about fulfilling the requirements of the Safety Abroad Office at the University of Toronto


Is this the same as or different from the Richard Charles Lee Big Ideas Competition held in 2015-16? Why the new name?

This challenge is a new iteration of what was last year the Richard Charles Lee Big Ideas Competition. While the name and some details of the structure have evolved, the spirit of the competition/challenge remains the same: to fund student projects that aim to make a difference in addressing real-world issues in Asia.

Can I apply as an individual or as a team?

Both individual and team applications will be considered. However, interdisciplinary and collaborative projects are encouraged. Those applying as individuals should mention external partners that you plan to collaborate with.

Do all members of the team need to be (current) students in the Faculty of Arts and Science at the University of Toronto?

You are welcome to collaborate with whomever you’d like. However, only team members who are current Arts and Science students are eligible to receive funding. Other team members would be responsible for their own expenses associated with the project.

Newsletter Signup Sign up for the Munk School Newsletter

× Strict NO SPAM policy. We value your privacy, and will never share your contact info.