Teaching

COURSES TAUGHT

Undergraduate

University of Melbourne

  • Asian Century: Meaning and Impact
  • Critical Asian Perspectives (Honors)
  • Contemporary Japan
  • Social Problems in Japan
  • Topics in Japanese Studies

Stockholm University

  • Japanese Studies Senior Seminar
  • Contemporary Japanese Society
  • Japan in Asia
  • Introduction to Japanese Studies
  • Advanced Japanese Reading (social studies)

Temple University Japan

  • Introduction to Anthropology
  • Cultures of the World
  • Topics in Cultural Anthropology: Anthropology and Civil Society

Graduate

University of Melbourne

  • Introduction to Action Research
  • Civil Society, NGOs, and the State

Stockholm University

  • Theories and Methods in Japanese Studies
  • Doctoral Reading in Japanese Studies I &II
  • Graduate Reading in Japanese Studies I & II (master’s)
  • East Asian Politics and Economy
  • Japanese for Academic Research

University of Duisburg-Essen

  • Japanese Social Structure

 

Doctoral Supervision

Primary

  • Adam Eldridge (2017–present)
  • Asha Ross (2017–present)
  • Akina Mikami (2016–present)
  • Stefan Fuchs (2014–present)

Secondary

  • Victor Ching Wai Yim (2017–present)

 

 

Teaching Philosophy

I have extensive teaching experience at the undergraduate and graduate levels, which I have adjusted and adapted based on the collaborative teaching efforts in the departments. My interdisciplinary academic training combined with my practical experience in journalism gives me breadth and imagination in regard to the topics I can teach. It also makes it possible to effectively and flexibly locate relevant theoretical and methodological texts. Ultimately, I would like to be a dynamic program builder with a strong commitment to contemporary Japanese studies dialogues with colleagues and students.

The guiding principle for me in the classroom is to foster a sense of community among students. As they learn to communicate with one another, not just with me, they grow as independent thinkers and learn to trust themselves and each other. I stress independent thought and critical thinking. I try to nurture students’ confidence in their own unique and individual abilities to assimilate, synthesize, and critique information about the world around them. Fostering this sense of community in the classroom is a manageable challenge. Part of this involves teaching what I practice in my research, that is, ethnography, as it facilitates the inclusion of diverse voices. Ethnographic inquires seek to discover the perspectives that are embedded in the voices of others.  Learning how to collect such voices as ethnographic evidence, students can understand how anthropologists function simultaneously as public witnesses and problem solvers. Students can themselves become engaged in problem-solving with the evidence they observe, not only as scholars or as students, but also as citizens. The anthropological approach, fortified with local, multiple viewpoints, helps us interpret deeper structural and cultural patterns and rationalities.

As a teacher, I carefully choose ethnographies in many subject areas. I always ask my students to reflect on how they relate their own experiences to the readings, and encourage them to practice their own reflective learning in their real, social lives. I believe actual learning occurs by focusing on problems in each individual context. The results have been encouraging. In my introductory anthropology course, for example, a Canadian student explored cultural constructions of childhood and definitions of abuse, and then she stepped in to take a summer internship with an NGO supporting children’s human rights. A Japanese student described her first anthropology experience in my class as fascinating, and eventually changed her major to anthropology from communication.

As I emphasize in my classes, an awareness and grasp of basic theories and research grow out of identifying, defining, and conceptualizing real social and cultural problems. With this teaching philosophy, I believe that students can realize the relevance of classroom education to the world as well as the inter-relationship among theory, practice, and research. Through this approach, learning comes face-to-face with contemporary society, rather than being separated from it. Active learning of this kind stimulates students; it encourages them to discuss and negotiate amongst themselves, and to seek compromise solutions with each other. This gives them more confidence in learning to voice their ideas and perspectives, and helps them learn that they can get as much from each other as they can from me. As their self confidence grows, they become more invested and engaged with the material. My successes with these techniques have taught me to be flexible in the classroom.  I try to employ experiential and active learning as well as problem solving at all levels of undergraduate and graduate training. Community building in the classroom, I believe, facilitates community building in social life, and more generally leads to independent, confident citizens.

Copyright © 2008−2018 Akihiro Ogawa