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Environmental Science in Japan

In 2013, the Asian Studies Center, the Japan Center for Michigan Universities, and the instructional center in Hikone, Shiga Prefecture, Japan collaborated to form the Bridging Project, a project which creates a better understanding of Japan's culture through the lens of environmental studies.

Supported by a generous grant from the Japan Foundation of New York, the curriculum produced by this project introduces American students to Japan's language, culture, people and environment.

Jump to:

Activities   •   Goals   •   Educator Resources

Project Activities

These three interconnected activities formeed an educational pipeline for student participants.

Visiting Scholar Program

Each year of the project, a Japanese visiting scholar was invited to teach at multiple universities in Michigan, lead a mentorship program connecting high school and university, and develop valuable new curriculum to introduce Japan's culture and environment in the United States.

Environmental Science in Japan Study Abroad Opportunities

Asian Studies Center and JCMU worked together to offer study abroad and exchange programs that focused on environmental studies in Japan. At the high school level, Asian Studies Center organized the Great Lakes Shiga High School Science Exchange Program, supported through funding from the United States - Japan Foundation. For college students, JCMU hosted its Environmental Science in Japan program each summer.

Career Bridge Internship

A gateway between the academic and the economic, this internship component allowed participants to utilize their knowledge of Japan, gained during previous activities in the project, at companies in Japan and Michigan.

Project Goals

The Bridging Project had multiple interconnected goals.

Develop a new generation of environmental scientists

The program built participants' international cultural competencies and skills, and equipped them with cross-cultural skills and experiences, expanding interest in Japan beyond the sole study of language through high school and collegiate teaching.

Address major environmental problems facing Japan and the U.S.

The program shares practical knowledge and promotes collaboration to address major environmental problems such as:

  • Water quality, usage, and conservation;
  • Biological diversity and conservation, including aquatic and avian life;
  • Pollution amelioration;
  • Natural resource allocation and management;
  • Improved ecological policies and practices; and
  • Alternative energy sources, technology and management.

Cultivate friendship between Japan and the U.S.

The project strengthened the relationship of Japan and the United States by promoting collaborative research and educational programming between institutions in Michigan and Shiga Prefecture.

Educator Resources

Below, educators will find several curriculum modules developed by visiting scholars. The modules address different topics related to Japan's environment and society and include resources, lesson plans, and activities for educators to engage their students. These modules are appropriate for high school and early undergraduate classrooms in biology, environmental science, history, current events, and social studies.






Bridging Visiting Scholar 2013: Dr. Kazumi Kondoh

Dr. Kondoh holds a Ph.D. in Sociology from Washington State University. Her specializations in research include environmental sociology and urban sociology. During her academic year in Michigan, Dr. Kondoh taught "Environment & Culture in Japan" at Lake Superior State University in Sault Sainte Marie, and Michigan State University in East Lansing.

Curriculum Modules:

Bridging Visiting Scholar 2014: Dr. Mari Kohri

Dr. Kohri spent her teenage years in Ohio and studied biology and environmental science at the University of Tsukuba in Japan. She holds a Ph.D. in Ecology from Hiroshima University, specializing in conservation biology and plant ecology. During her academic year in Michigan, Dr. Kohri taught "Environmental Science & Biodiversity" at Northern Michigan University in Marquette, and Wayne State University in Detroit.

Curriculum Modules:

Artist: Takayuki Fukuyama

This page features the artwork of nihonga landscape painter, Takayuki Fukuyama. A native of Shiga Prefecture, Mr. Fukuyama was a featured artist in the 2013 'Art from the Lakes' exchange program and exhibit at the Lansing Art Gallery in Michigan. His work has been showcased in galleries and museums, and he is the recipient of several awards, including the Ueno Royal Museum Exhibition Grand Prize. Mr. Fukuyama grew up surrounded by nature and picturesque landscapes, and this inspired him to become a painter. His paintings reflect his desire to honor nature's beauty. Find more information and artwork at Mr. Fukuyama's blog.