Richard Charles Lee Insights through Asia Challenge


The Richard Charles Lee Insights through Asia Challenge (ITAC) is a flagship experiential learning program at the Asian Institute, Munk School of Global Affairs.

This year, ITAC invites students to research the theme of mobilities in Asia today. We call on all U of T students (undergraduate and graduate) who want to apply classroom learning to fieldwork in Asia. Students are welcome to apply as individuals or in small teams and can propose to create their field research as a policy report, a journal article, a documentary film, a large-scale event, or something else entirely. Most importantly, projects must be fully grounded in academic research. Projects may address issues relevant to particular localities in East, Southeast, or South Asia, or issues connecting multiple places. These projects should address a specific issue within the broad theme of mobilities (e.g., circulations of people, commodities, money, ideas and ideologies) in the context of larger forces (e.g., global markets, socio-politics, emerging technologies and digital spaces, the environment, health, etc.).

Students will prepare for the challenge through several workshops providing feedback and guidance from faculty and advisors between January 2018 and April 2018. From May to July, students will have the opportunity to travel to Asia for up to 21 days to conduct research and put their proposals into action. In August students will write up their final reports following an ITAC report template. The program will culminate in September 2018 with public presentations by student awardees at the Munk School of Global Affairs.

2017-18 Timeline


Call for Ideas Posted November 6
Draft Proposal Submission Deadline January 10
Information Session and Proposal Writing Workshop January 19
Application Deadline January 31
Awardees Announced February 16

PHASE 2 (for winners)

Project Management, Research Ethics, and Planning Workshop March 5
Progress Review Meeting with Mentor, Status Update Approval April 20
Travel/Fieldwork/Research May – July
Report Work August
Public Presentation of the Research Experience and Outcomes Mid-September


Undergraduate and graduate students currently enrolled at any of the three campuses at the University of Toronto are welcome to apply. Students can apply as individuals or teams.

Award Amounts

$2,000 – $7,000


Applicants must submit the following materials as a single PDF file via email to, with the SUBJECT LINE “ITAC Application: Last Name_Student ID #”. Please LABEL YOUR PDF ATTACHMENT: “Last Name_First Name_ITAC Application” (when submitting as a team, please choose one team member’s name for the purposes of titling)

  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)


Draft Proposal Submission: January 10, 2018

Final Application: January 31, 2018


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


Please address inquiries to:

Shannon Garden-Smith
Assistant to the Director; Special Projects Coordinator, Asian Institute | 416.946.8842
1 Devonshire Place, room 103N
Munk School of Global Affairs

*Image courtesy Alexa Waud and Malcolm Sanger (ITAC 2016-17)

Upcoming WORKSHOPS and Events

Award ceremony and Presentations by 2016-17 Winners / Register

Munk School of Global Affairs

  • 2017-18 winners will be formally acknowledged

Teamwork and Conflict Resolution Workshop (For Winners)


Polishing your Presentation Workshop (for Winners)


Insights through Asia: Results 


  • 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 previously 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. Please note all team members must be current University of Toronto students (undergraduate or graduate in any discipline)


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