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Course Description

Transnational Community and Immigrant Incorporation in Japan and the U.S.

Special Four-Week Summer AIU-UCB PBL Course, June 20 to July 15, 2016

PBL (Project-Based Learning) method is a comprehensive approach to instruction where students participate in projects and practice an interdisciplinary array of skills. The proposed PBL is to provide opportunities to some selected students from AIU and the partner universities for field-based learning courses both in Japan and the United States. Japanese/U.S. students will work and lodge together for 3-4 weeks in the United States and 3-4 weeks in Japan to learn and experience intellectual differences and obtain various skills which are often difficult in the classrooms


(An excerpt from “Concept Note,” AIU, 2012).

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For the PBL course for AIU and UCB students to “learn and experience intellectual differences and obtain various skills which are often difficult in the classrooms,” instructors of this course — Akiba and Yamanaka — have chosen “transnational community and immigrant incorporation” as the main theme. This is because we believe that it is one of the major global issues critical to an understanding of the dynamics and process of large-scale social transformations occurring in every part of the world today. Not only these changes form central themes of cultural, economic and political debates in any advanced society, but also the future of the nation hinges upon the new generations of youths growing up in social diversity and with multiple identities.


This is not an exaggeration even for the countries or regions known for social homogeneity in East Asia, such as Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. Oddly enough there, seeds of social transformations spring from the periphery, not necessarily the center, of society where an aging population and steady flows of outmigration have plagued communities for decades. By the advent of the new millennium in East Asia, international marriage migration, along with labor migration, has become a major vehicle of border crossing for large numbers of women from developing to developed countries. By now more than three decades have passed since the waves of immigrant women and men arrived in wealthier East Asian countries as residents and workers. Some of them have eventually settled down forming transnational families and communities in the nations once heavily embraced the tradition and cohesion deeply seated in their ancestral homelands.


This course addresses themes and issues relevant to international migration, transnational community building, and immigrant incorporation in East Asia, mostly Japan, and North America, mostly the U.S., specifically the San Francisco Bay Area. Although the two regions have vastly different history and experience with international migration, we believe that the basic forces—cultural, economic and political—contributing to large-scale social transformations are more common in the two regions than we usually think. Consequently, there are many comparable factors, patterns, contexts and processes of immigration and resultant immigrant community formation, raising questions of how to incorporate the new arrivals into the destination society. As a PBL course, this course emphasizes research and field studies in the Bay Area and Akita, as well as the theories that constitute an intellectual foundation for application.


In short, this course is aimed for both Berkeley and AIU students to understand international migration, transnational community building, and immigrant incorporation as both global and local processes common among all advanced societies including Japan and the U.S. It focuses on the historical and structural context of international migration, immigration policy, individual and community issues, and processes of social and cultural change, including intricate nuances of individual and collective agency, and grassroots networks that connect macro-level structures to micro-level personal interests.


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