One of the courses taught in Otemae University's content-language integrated learning program, the Global Japan Studies (GJS) courses, is U.S.-Japan Comparative Culture. This course is taught by Koichi Ando in Japanese and Kathryn Tanaka in English. Students are encouraged to take both, as the topics covered are similar, but the teaching methods vary.
In the US-Japan Comparative Culture course, students learn about contemporary cultural issues in both America and Japan. One of the most popular lesson units is on human rights issues in Japan and the USA. This year, the GJS course took advantage of the fact that we have a very valuable resource for human rights in Japan right here in Osaka: Liberty Osaka
, or the Osaka Human Rights Museum
(English link), Japan's first and oldest museum dedicated to human rights issues in Japan. This museum provides a comprehensive overview of human rights issues in Japan, both historically and today. It presents both a local and national look at important human rights issues. Its breadth alone, covering everything from children's and workers rights to minority groups and human rights violations in Japan, makes it worth the visit.
Students this year spent several hours touring the museum. While they'll talk about the visit in class and submit formal reports on the visit later, initial feedback was positive.
"I learned a lot of new things. I never thought about some of these issues before," one student said.
"I didn't know there were these problems in Japan," said another.
"I learned a lot of problems are human rights issues," said a third.
I was pleased with student reactions, and underscored the fact that we are lucky to have such an important human rights resource here in Osaka.
I believe learning doesn't take place only in the classroom, and I believe taking advantage of these important and unique community resources make our students more active learners and more engaged citizens.