First the teachers, then the courses, lastly the students
Under the “Local Industry Revitalization and Sustainable Development: Nantou County Rural Tourism Deep Plowing Project”, the initial 2020 plan for the sub-project of international connection, taking our sister school, Shinshu University, as the core focus, was to carry out an in-person exchange among teachers about research on local revitalization case studies and curriculum design. The plan was for three teachers from the College of Management to visit Japan, and after returning, share what they have learnt, as well as setting up relevant courses and fostering students for future exchange.
When the plan for an in-person exchange was terminated due to the pandemic, the sub-project decided to make quantitative indicator adjustments within the scope of the budget, based on goal management policy and keeping in accordance with the three major qualitative indicators laid out in the proposal. The three major indicators were: “deepen the Taiwan experience, learn from the experience of local revitalization in Japan, and design a Japanese local revitalization micro-course.” The most important matter was to creatively utilize current resources on hand in order to generate experience on relevant courses in Japan, to seek suitable student talents and gather corresponding course materials and objectives for Taiwan.
Teachers and students in sync: Learning to design local revitalization courses together
In order to foster elite students that could be sent to Japan in 2021, under the support of the Center for Teaching and Learning Development, the “Taiwan-Japan University Teachers’ Professional Club for the Study of the Theory and Practice of Social Practices” was formed. Students with Japanese language proficiency at level one and two were also invited to participate.
The first work meeting was held on the 15th of April, 2020. The session was led voluntarily by two teachers, Ching-ying Tung and Yi-Tzu Lin, as well as two students, En-sin Li and Ying-ru Chen. The second meeting was held on the 13th of May, in which a report “Course on the Professional Study of Shinshu Academy Concepts and Local Strategy”, written by Professor Yasuto Hayashi from Shinshu University, was given. The article illustrates how Shinshu University designed its Future Studies Course for current students and the general public, funded by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology COC+. The course comprises three major topic areas, namely, “economic development, art and culture, and environmental symbiosis of mountain-side area.”
Ching-ying Tung was appointed as the person in charge of the international collaboration project. Since 2019, she has been involved in the preparation of the “Taiwan-Japan University Local Connection and Social Practice Alliance”, together with the Shui Sha Lian Research Center for Humanities Innovation and Social Practice. When in-person exchange was terminated, she felt that she had the responsibility to share what she knew and learnt via the club activities, with other teachers who wished to set up international connection type local revitalization courses.
Adjunct Assistant Professor Yi-Tzu Lin recalled that during her dissertation writing time at Kyoto University, the teachers and students there enthusiastically shared with her material about disaster prevention education and its research findings. Hence, whenever there is an opportunity, she is more than happy to act as a bridge between research in Taiwan and Japan as well as assists in the exchange of knowledge.
En-sin Li from the Department of Economics came back from an exchange program at Kyoto Sangyo University. As a receiver of the Shui Sha Lian research scholarship, whenever there is an opportunity to be in contact with Japanese courses or research papers, she is willing to continue to brush up her Japanese language comprehension and translation abilities. Also recommended by Professor Chia-Yu Yeh, Head of Department of Economics, second year student Ying-ru Chen also participated in the teachers’ group. She had already obtained level one in the Japanese language proficiency test by the time she graduated from high school. Having missed the chance to study in Japanese numerous times, after learning about the University’s resources for training talents for Taiwan-Japan exchange, she decided to make full use of the opportunity to strengthen herself. While learning from the teachers, she also provided assistance in translation and reporting.
Teaching benefits teacher and student alike: Rewards start with participation
The report was given on the 13th of May by these four individuals. Sections to be translated had already been divided up among the four of them 10 days earlier. On the 6th of May, a power point presentation of the report was made, and there was discussion on standardization of terms and confirmation of content understanding. In addition, they stayed back after hours to make an EverCam recorded presentation for club members who were unable to attend to view later.
Active discussion on the 13th of May
Through everyone’s hard work, a power point report consisting of 55 slides and a 27-minute long teaching video were produced. After the discussion on the 13th of May, four major areas of questions were collected to be used as online discussion materials with Shinshu University on the 27th of May. The questions included:
- Details on the operation of Future Studies at Shinshu University. For example, teaching faculty, funding, source of students, current situation, and so on.
- Aged farmers in rural areas, under the precondition of being unable to pass down their knowledge through each generation, need to work to sustain their lives. Therefore, we wish to understand future plans for the health and longevity study group.
- Are there any specific case studies for the results of the Art, Culture and Local Connection course that can be consulted?
- In order to promote course planning for development of local connections, it is necessary to develop the basis of University administration and institutions. Therefore, we wish to know if there is guidance on cultural value systems for senior management roles? Also, how does Shinshu University integrate students’ involvement in local development? How are the operating networks established? Who leads these?
After the discussion was finished, Ying-ru Chen said, “I felt a sense of accomplishment after completing the report and recording. The part that I was in charge of was survey diagrams. They allowed me to see local problems and solutions that the local residents are hoping for. If similar problems are found in Puli or other comparable regions in Taiwan, and solutions were implemented, it will definitely bring about a great impact on local revitalization.”