Listen to an episode featuring Chris Hammond:

Higher Education Internationalization in Japan

Ability, Activism, and the Asia-Pacific

by Chris Hammond
Project Associate Professor
College of Arts and Sciences, the University of Tokyo, Japan

I’m grateful to have the opportunity to share some recommendations for FreshEd podcasts I’ve discovered recently. My research interests typically focus on aspects of higher education internationalization in Asia-Pacific contexts, and lately, I’ve been exploring this area regarding the issues of inclusion, internationalization of curricula, and virtual exchange. In teaching, I cover broader ground, and explore with my students a wide range of education topics from sociological perspectives. I often supplement my courses with FreshEd podcasts and encourage students to find their own subjects of interest.

Today I’d like to share three podcasts that made a strong impression on me. The first is a beautifully crafted and moving Flux episode by Yanan Yu about the notion of ‘ability’, told through both a personal narrative of her experience of education and employment in China and the UK, and through the perspectives of the participants of her graduate research: massage practitioners in China who are visually impaired.

Yanan Yu’s story is accompanied by her incredible piano playing, and is a joy to listen to. Like other podcasts on FreshEd, the transcript provided is also a useful resource for English language learners and those who are hearing impaired. Finally, I’d also like to point out the wealth of information in the Resources section, covering topics of social issues for people with disability, employment, rights and inclusion, and more. I continue to benefit and learn from Yanan Yu’s contribution and will be sure to share it with my students.

Next up is another Flux episode, this time on the topic of environmental education. Today in Tokyo, Japan, where I work, branding for the SDGs is everywhere, from logo-covered trains to pins on the suit lapels of businesspeople who pack them for their morning commute. Another common sight is politically apathetic youth. In my classes, I challenge my students to engage with the political disaffection of young people in Japan in the context of the climate crisis through discussions of the SDGs and possible alternatives. This episode by Mari Casellato offers a great counterexample of vibrant activist youth culture in Brazil.

Finally, I’d like to return to my preferred research context of the Asia-Pacific. Years ago, when I was a graduate student at the Institute of Education in London, a group member I worked on a project with pointed out that when people talk about and research the Asia-Pacific region, the ‘Pacific’ often gets overlooked. That point made an impact on me, and I’ve since tried to incorporate case studies and topics related to Oceania into my course on ‘Education in Asia-Pacific Societies’ and my own research. I still have a lot to learn, but podcasts like this one from Seu’ula Johansson-Fua are a great introduction to the ideas and issues shaping the region.

May 1, 2023