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Landscapes in Transition: Sustainability in Japan’s Rural North.

Rural Landscape of Asuka, Japan Asuka, Japan by Nick Mischler'14

Landscapes Japan Field Studies (May/June 2018).  Application Deadline:  October 13, 2017

The Program

For centuries, rural Japanese have manipulated the natural environment to sustain both humans and biodiversity, creating ecosystems or satoyama of cultivated fields, ponds, streams, forests, villages, and rice paddies.  Today, however, satoyama are threatened by modernization and globalization, as industrial agricultural processes replace small scale traditional ones, rural populations age and shrink, rice production decreases in the face of food importation, and cross-border pollution increases.  Which solutions will ensure rural Japan’s cultural, social and environmental sustainability?

Students enrolling in Landscapes Japan courses will explore issues related to rural sustainability in core and elective courses in the natural sciences, arts and humanities, and social sciences. While emphasis will be placed on questions around sustainability in Japan’s rural north, opportunities for comparative studies, including with rural sustainability in the Midwest, will be possible.

In late spring/early summer 2018 and 2020, ten Beloit College students will join students from Akita International University (AIU), the partner for the project, for field studies in Akita prefecture.   AIU students undertaking an exchange year at Beloit will be invited to enroll in the program.

To be eligible to participate in field studies, students must have successfully competed a) JAPN/ENVS 280 Landscapes in Transition:  Orientation Course and b) at least one additional Landscapes Japan core course.  Japanese study (for non-Japanese speakers) and completion of additional core and elective courses will increase the likelihood of selection.  Successful field studies applicants with financial need will be eligible to apply for scholarships to help meet the cost of participation. 

It is hoped that Landscapes Japan students will also spend a semester at Akita International University as exchange students, either before or after the field studies.


  • Susan Furukawa, Co-Director, Landscapes Japan,, ext. 2931
  • Jim Rougvie, Co-Director, Landscapes Japan,, ext. 2268
  • Pablo Toral, Contributing faculty member,, ext. 2166
  • Elizabeth Brewer, Project Administrator,, ext. 2269

Landscapes Japan Courses

All courses carry one unit of credit excepting JAPN/ENVS 280 and the orientation course, each of which is a .5 unit course.

Core Courses

To be eligible for field studies, students must take at least one of the following core courses in addition to the orientation course, admission to which is based on acceptance to the field studies.

  • ECON 271, Sustainable Agricultural Management, spring.  Instructor:  D. Sabasi
  • GEOL 100, Earth, Exploring a Dynamic Planet, fall or spring.  1 unit.  Instructor:  J. Rougvie
  • JAPN/ENVS 280, Totoro Saves the World:  Miyazaki, Nature, and the Popular Imagination, fall 2019.  .5 unit . Instructors:  S. Furukawa and J. Rougvie.
  • JAPN/ENVS 280, Landscapes in Transition:  Japan Orientation, spring 2020. .5 unit. Instructors:  S. Furukawa and J. Rougvie.  Required for field studies (see above).
  • JAPN 260, Nightmare Japan, spring. 1 unit. Instructor:  S. Furukawa
  • POLS 246, Global Political Economy, spring.  1 unit. Instructor:  P. Toral
  • POLS 255, Global Political Ecology, fall. 1 unit. Instructor:  P. Toral
  • SOCI 251, Global Family Issues, spring.  1 unit. Instructor:  K. Linneberg

    Language Courses

    • JAPN 100, First-Year Japanese I, fall
    • JAPN 105, First-Year Japanese II, spring
    • JAPN 110, Second-Year Japanese I, fall
    • JAPN 115, Second-Year Japanese II, spring
    • JAPN 200, Third-Year Japanese I, fall
    • JAPN 210, Third-Year Japanese II, spring

    Japanese is also offered in Beloit College’s summer intensive language program, Center for Language Studies

    Related courses are offered in art history, chemistry, English, history, interdisciplinary studies, museum studies, and political science.

    Field Studies

    • Sustainability in Japan's Rural North. Late May/June 2018 and 2020