Stanford and Rikkyo students report on their joint fieldwork on attractions of city devastated by 2011 disaster



Rikkyo University has held an English-language regular curriculum course titled “Rikuzentakata Project” as part of its efforts to assist reconstruction of a city devastated by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

In September, the project’s participants produced and distributed content that showcased the attractions of Rikuzentakata City in Iwate Prefecture. The students reported on their achievement at two locations – Rikuzentakata Global Campus, which opened in Rikuzentakata in April this year, and Rikkyo’s Ikebukuro campus in Tokyo.

The Rikuzentakata Project is a project-based learning program involving a five-day field trip to the coastal city in northeastern Japan. The students examined Rikuzentakata’s current situation and challenges, and then produced content to publicize the city’s attractions. The program in the 2017 academic year had 18 participants — 11 from Rikkyo University and seven from Stanford University of the United States.
This course was launched in the 2013 academic year as a pilot program under the Rikkyo Global 24 project to contribute to reconstruction work in the disaster-hit region. The course familiarizes students at Rikkyo University, including international students, with the conditions in quake-hit areas and helps them assist the recovery of Rikuzentakata by sharing information about pending issues in reconstruction work.
Inspired by the project’s aims, Stanford University approached Rikkyo and asked about sending its students to take part in the program. Since the 2015 academic year, the U.S. university has sent students every year with Volunteers in Asia, a nongovernmental organization on its campus, working as an intermediary.
Stanford students participating in the project came to Japan after studying about Rikuzentakata and the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake. They took part in the pre-fieldwork program, the five-day fieldwork trip and the post-fieldwork program.

1.On-site report presentation
Date and time: Sept. 10 (Sunday), from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Venue: Rikuzentakata Global Campus, third floor, workshop room
Address: 113-10 Kamida, Yonesakicho, Rikuzentakata City, Iwate Prefecture

2.Post-fieldwork report presentation
Date and time: Sept. 12 (Tuesday), from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
Venue: Rikkyo University Ikebukuro campus, Room A203 on second floor of No. 11 Building
Address: 3-34-1 Nishi-Ikebukuro, Toshima Ward, Tokyo

Outline of program

【Course title】
Rikuzentakata Project: Project-based learning about reconstruction from the 2011 disaster

Akiko Takai: Deputy secretary general of Save the Children Japan
Zi Zhang: Volunteers in Asia staffer

【Faculty members in charge】
Cooperation from:
Kiyoshi Murakami: Senior executive advisor of Rikuzentakada City and representative of Aid Takata, a nonprofit organization in the city

【Number of students】
11 from Rikkyo University, 7 from Stanford University

July 15 (Saturday), 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. (attended only by Rikkyo students)
Aug. 26 (Saturday), 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. (attended only by Rikkyo students)
Sept. 5 and 6 (Tuesday and Wednesday), 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (attended by Rikkyo and Stanford students)
Sept. 7 to 11 (Thursday to Monday)
Sept. 12 (Tuesday), 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

【Number of credits】

【Working language】

Compile information on attractions of Rikuzentakata City, produce relevant content and publicize them

Past collaboration with Stanford University
2015 academic year
Task: Publicize Rikuzentakata’s attractions to people overseas
Participants: 13 Rikkyo students, 7 Stanford students
2016 academic year
Task: Produce content showcasing attractions of Rikuzentakata and distribute them
Participants: 7 Rikkyo students, 7 Stanford students
Rikuzentakata Global Campus

Rikuzentakata Global Campus
Rikkyo University began developing ties with Rikuzentakata in 2003, when it launched a summer extracurricular program for students to get firsthand experience of forestry work in the Oide area of Yahagi Town. In June 2011, the university designated the city as an area requiring concentrated support and conducted reconstruction assistance activities, including dispatching volunteers to quake-stricken areas. On May 23, 2012, the university and the city signed an accord to implement long-term cooperation and exchanges in broader fields.
In April 2017, Rikkyo University opened the Rikuzentakata Global Campus jointly with Iwate University as a hub for education and research as well as a wide range of exchanges. The campus also aims to nurture human resources who will play leading roles in regional development and rejuvenate communities in cooperation with local citizens. The Japan Association of Private Universities and Colleges praised this project as an “effort by a private university to develop a local community in a diversified and distinctive manner.”

Rikkyo University will continue to base its efforts on exchanges with local residents and governments as well as nonprofit organizations and other entities. In line with our commitment to learn lessons from the experiences since the 2011 disaster, we will also take concrete and diverse actions to help students understand the conditions in quake-hit areas, sympathize with local residents, and get motivated to take action on their own.
*Rikuzentakata Global Campus is part of the Rikkyo Vision 2024 project.

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