Psychology in Japan: A Study Abroad Workshop

Psychology in Japan: A Study Abroad Workshop

June 8-23, 2014

Directors: Dr. Virginia Wickline & Dr. Deborah Wiese (Clinical Psychology)

An inaugural group of students (10 undergraduates, 1 graduate student) joined Drs. Deborah Wiese and Dr. Virginia Wickline for the psychology department's first-ever faculty-led study abroad immersion workshop entitled "Psychology in Japan." This study abroad workshop was specifically designed for students in psychology but was also open to non-majors. The workshop reviewed a host of psychology-related topics as they related to Japanese life, values, and behaviors. Before immersing ourselves in Japan, we engaged with the scholarly literature focusing on how culture influences identity, in-group versus out-group experiences (stigma, stereotypes, microaggressions), values, verbal and nonverbal communication, cultural traumas, culture shock, and other day-to-day behaviors of both humans and other primates.

In addition to trying new foods and new Japanese phrases, students on the workshop completed myriad intercultural experiences while abroad. In Tokyo, we were graciously hosted by our new friends, the Japanese college students and faculty from Kyorin University. We additionally observed children with autism at the Musashino Higashi Gakuen School, viewed a Kabuki theatre performance, explored “Old Japan” at the Boso-nu-Mura open air museum, and immersed ourselves in the whimsical world that is the Ghibli museum. In Nagano, we viewed Japanese Macaques in their natural habitat of the hot springs just outside Shibu Onsen and experienced formal meals and traditional hot-spring baths in a 200-year-old resort. In Hiroshima, we were honored by a lecture from famed atomic bomb survivor Dr. Koko Tanimoto Kondo, our guide to the Hiroshima Peace Park and Museum, and wandered alongside the sacred deer of Miyajima on Itsukushima Island. Finally, in Kyoto, we explored the psychology of religion by visiting numerous world-famous Shinto shrines and Buddist temples while residing in traditional Machiya housing and seeking out elusive geishas in the famed Gion district. All this in just 12 days! The diversity of experiences across rural, suburban, and urban settings allowed students a snapshot into the variety of subcultures that exist within the Japanese culture.

Upon return, students finalized individual and group field journal entries as well as final ethnographic or prospective quantitative research projects to reflect upon and synthesize what they learned from their experience in Japan. The group journal with further descriptions and pictures from our collective experiences is available. Also available are a journal article regarding the “Full Package” of a study abroad workshop by Dr. Wiese & Dr. Wickline, as well as a graduate student Sarah Barton’s reflections highlighting the importance of immersion experiences for development for graduate students’ intercultural competence.

This workshop is indebted to the generous support of the Elizabeth Buckhardt Fund, the Office of Global Initiatives (Oxford), the Office of International Initiatives (Regionals), and the Psychology Department.

The group journal with further descriptions and pictures from our collective experiences is available. Also available are a journal article regarding the “Full Package” of a study abroad workshop by Dr. Wiese & Dr. Wickline, as well as a graduate student Sarah Barton’s reflections highlighting the importance of immersion experiences for development for graduate students’ intercultural competence. Please email wicklivb@miamioh.edu or wiesedl@miamioh.edu if you are interested in receiving a copy of any of these resources or a copy of the journal.