During my second year at JMU I received grants from CISAT International, and the SAGE Program to go to Japan to investigate the possibility of offering a study abroad program there. I completed that trip in the summer of 2008. Although I was not able to recruit enough students to run a trip during the summer of 2009, I did successfully run a trip for ten students in the summer of 2010. I had enough people to go again in 2011, but the trip had to be cancelled due to the earthquake and tsunami that impacted Japan in March of 2011.
For the trip I created one new course, GHUM 252–Cross-Cultural Perspectives: Japan. I also taught introductory and intermediate Japanese language courses as part of the trip. The student blogs from the trip can be read at the program website: http://www.jmuinjapan.net.
In the summer of 2011, taking advantage of the contacts provided to me by Tatsuya Wakeyama, a graduate student in alternative energy from Kyushu University who came to do research with Maria Papadakis, I established a connection with ISEP, the Institute for Sustainable Energy Policy in Tokyo. In future years I hope to expand the Japan program to attract ISAT students to do internships with ISEP. I’m also currently in discussion with a member of the dance faculty at JMU to add courses in Japanese modern dance to the program.