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GCC Japan — Environmental Encounters in Japan: Past, Present, Prospect

  • City: Tokyo
  • Term: Winter course with field component during Spring/Summer
  • Instruction in: English

On-campus component: HISTORY 392/592 / Environmental Studies 462: Doing Environmental History in Japan (3 credits)— “Doing Environmental History in Japan” (History 392/592 // Environmental Studies 462) examines concepts of nature and histories of the environment in Japan. How have people living on the Japanese archipelago interacted with the land, seas, and biota from the time of the Tokugawa shoguns to the Fukushima meltdown? What do these interactions tell us about Japanese understandings of the natural world?  How have these understandings changed under the pressures of modernity?  And why has the environment become a site of conflict and controversy in Japan?  This course will address these questions through specific explorations of concepts, places, people, and episodes from 1600 to the present.

Off-campus component: CJS 281: Environmental Encounters in Japan: Past, Present, Prospect (2 credits) — “Environmental Encounters in Japan,” based in Tokyo, will explore first-hand the themes and case studies students have addressed in the University of Michigan classroom. In the course of the program, students will interact with the legacies of historic forestry and agricultural practices; visit the sites of major pollution disasters; encounter “nature” in gardens and museums; observe the flows of resources and waste through the urban landscape; and investigate alternative initiatives in creating ecologically sustainable futures. Our study sites will alternate between the field and Waseda University campus, where the group will have multiple opportunities for exchange with students and scholars working in the field of environmental education, ethics and sustainability. The on-site course assignments will include site-observation reports, environmental travel-blogs, and group projects.

This course is led by U-M Associate Professor of History Leslie Pincus.

Because the course involves active engagement in the field, students should be prepared for moderate physical activity including walking, hiking, and a rice-paddy practicum.