Field Placement is a highlight of our Tokyo program. As one of the requirements for the IES Abroad course, Social Organization in Japan, this weekly placement will get students out into a variety of Japanese organizations. Enrolled students will spend one day each week in a field placement experience as a participant-observer at local businesses, non-profits, or governmental organizations. These placements allow you to directly observe Japanese social and work interactions and to experience the local culture. In the accompanying 3-credit seminar course, you discuss your experiences, complete assignments, and learn more about society and culture in Japan.
- Japanime (a publishing company)
- Design Festa
- The Japanese Association for the Lesbian and Gay Movement (OCCUR)
- Akasaka Hikawa Shrine
- Sugano Elementary School
Students are strongly encouraged to participate in the Field Placement Program.
The IES Abroad Tokyo program is dedicated to immersing students in Japanese culture and encouraging them to think deeply about what they experience. The goal is that you understand and experience Japanese culture and society from a Japanese perspective. Toward this aim, students are invited to participate in the Center’s Field Placement Program. Please read the information and instructions in this section carefully.
This is not an internship program. The IES Abroad Tokyo student is a learner engaged in a form of ongoing ethnographic research, the core focus of which is the meaning of actions and events to the people within the social setting the student seeks to understand.
The goals of the Field Placement Program are as follows:
- Through a facilitated seminar, to encourage students to collectively share and reflect on field placement experiences as a basis for recognizing, understanding, and explaining the social organization of Japan.
- To discover the “real world” social organization of Japan as it is naturally exhibited, without imposing a particular framework or theoretical preconception as to what will or should be found.
- To develop basic skills of ethnographic inquiry through conducting weekly participant observation, journal writing, and shared reflection.
- Through weekly field research, to learn how to describe interactions within a social setting and the outcome of these interactions, and to discover the meanings interactions have for the people being studied.
- To develop a greater awareness of one’s ethnocentrism and how these tendencies block the understanding of cultures other than one’s own.
- To become more interculturally competent.
- To be more patient, objective, and introspective cultural explorers, appreciating the idea of cultural relativism when seeking to understand Japanese social organization.
The Field Placement Program participants must register for the SO/AN 391 seminar, Social Organization of Japan. The seminar meets once every other week for a total of seven, three-hour sessions. Each student is responsible for creating an extensive portfolio of the experience/research that, together with other materials, includes a learning contract, a reflection paper, a final academic paper, and a culture learning journal. To further guide the experience, each student will set at least three learning goals for the placement and state the methods he/she will use to achieve each goal. Students earn 3 credits for the seminar.
As part of the seminar, students are assigned to field placements in Japanese organizations where they work as a participant-observers every Wednesday for 8-10 hours. In doing participant-observation for ethnographic purposes, you have dual goals of engaging in activities appropriate to the situation and observing the activities, people, and physical aspects of the situation. Please bring at least one set of business-level clothing for your placement. You will need to step outside your defined cultural backgrounds, to set aside socially inherited ethnocentrism, if only for a brief period, and to comprehend the world from the viewpoint of others who live by different meaning systems. Students are encouraged to discover the cultural assumptions Japanese people use to organize their behavior and interpret their experience. What meanings do these interactions have for the Japanese? Rather than collecting data about people, you are to learn from the people in your field placement, to be taught by them. You are not an agent of change.
Complying with specific placement requests is difficult, if not impossible. IES Abroad Tokyo staff works very hard to find placements that achieve the objectives of the course and that also match the research interests of the student. While course objectives take priority, the staff will do everything possible to find the type of placement that each student wishes to have.
You should not expect to be placed with particularly high-profile or high-prestige organizations. However, the staff have been very successful at finding good placements that meet both the goals for the course and students’ expectations. This would not be possible without the students’ cooperation. If you have unanswered questions about the field placement, contact your IES Abroad Advisor.
Academic Year Students
Students at IES Abroad Tokyo for a second semester who wish to participate in the Field Placement Program for a second time will have the option of conducting an independent study in lieu of the seminar course. This independent study must be approved by the course instructor, the IES Abroad Center Director, and the student’s home school.
Should IES Abroad be asked to arrange an independent study tutorial, the cost incurred will be borne by IES Abroad. Though the focus of this tutorial need not be limited to Japanese social organization, focus of the placement should remain true to the foundations of ethnographic research. Priority in field placements will be given to first-semester students.
KUIS AREA STUDIES COURSES
With permission from the Tokyo Center Director and the KUIS instructor, you may enroll in English-taught area studies courses at KUIS that are 1.5 credits per course.
Offerings vary each semester, and the course schedule is determined by KUIS shortly before the start of each semester. For this reason, it is not possible to preregister for these courses before you arrive in Tokyo. Past courses have included:
- Culture Studies
- Gender Studies
- Political Science
NOTE: KUIS reserves the right to cancel a course due to insufficient enrollment or circumstances beyond its control.