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AAG Workshop Creates Educational Resources for U.S.-Japan Collaborations

November 14, 2012

  The AAG recently led a workshop in collaboration with Japanese partners, “Internationalizing Geography Education: A Focus on Japan,” at the University of Tokyo. The workshop sought to catalyze educational collaborations between schools and universities in the United States and Japan.

Held from September 13-17, 2012, in Tokyo, the workshop drew a delegation of 23 geography teachers and professors from the U.S. and Japan. Participants developed new educational resources for the AAG’s Center for Global Geography Education (CGGE), which provides open access to six online modules offering regional case studies and collaborative projects for high school and university geography classes: global climate change, global economy, migration, national identity, population and natural resources, and water resources.

The case studies developed by the Tokyo workshop participants draw on geographical research by American and Japanese geographers to offer analyses of the 2011 East Japan earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disasters. Each case study investigates a different geographic dimension of the disasters and is paired with a collaborative project. The aim of the collaborative project is to deploy social networking and interactive technologies for connecting geography classes in the U.S. and Japan for discussions, spatial data analysis, and problem-based learning activities. The materials will be published in early 2013 on the CGGE website (http://globalgeography.aag.org).

The workshop began with a two-day field study of areas in the To¯hoku region that were impacted by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami. Hosted by a team of Japanese geographers who are also educators, the excursion provided an opportunity for the U.S. participants to understand how people’s lives and local landscapes were affected by the disasters. Visits to two local schools provided participants a unique opportunity to observe geography education taking place in areas affected by the earthquake and tsunami and the subsequent meltdown at the Fukushima nuclear power plant. This field study was an invaluable excursion that allowed U.S. participants collect data for the CGGE modules, including photographs and primary information.

After returning from the To¯hoku region, workshop participants from both countries worked in small groups to brainstorm and to formulate the details of their case studies and collaborative projects, using guidelines for writing inquiry-based activities and interactive hypermedia prepared by workshop facilitators Dr. Phil Klein (University of Northern Colorado), Dr. Osvaldo Muñiz (Texas State University – San Marcos), and Waverly Ray (PhD Candidate, Texas State University – San Marcos). Each group will continue collaborating over the coming months to finalize their materials for publication early in 2013. The materials will also be published in Japanese to extend the dissemination of the resources throughout Japan.

Funding for the CGGE-Japan workshop was provided by a grant from the U.S.- Japan Foundation, with additional funding support from the AAG.

Questions about the Tokyo workshop and CGGE project may be directed to Dr. Michael Solem

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