On February 1, 2012, the Reischauer Scholars Program (RSP) embarked on its ninth year with a new class of 27 exceptional high school students from across the United States. Named in honor of former Ambassador to Japan Edwin O. Reischauer, the RSP is an online course about Japan and U.S.–Japan relations for high school sophomores, juniors, and seniors that is supported by a grant from the Center for Global Partnership, The Japan Foundation, and the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies. The primary instructor of the RSP is Naomi Funahashi, Stanford Program on International and Cross-Cultural Education (SPICE). The RSP was established in 2002 with a grant from the United States–Japan Foundation.
The RSP is a rigorous, college-level course that provides students with a broad overview of Japanese history, literature, religion, art, politics, economics, and contemporary society, with a special focus on the U.S.–Japan relationship. Ambassadors, top scholars, and experts throughout the United States and Japan provide online lectures and engage students in live discussion sessions. Students also complete readings and weekly assignments, with the coursework culminating in an independent research project.
Students were welcomed to the course with recently videotaped remarks by Ambassador Ichiro Fujisaki, Japanese ambassador to the United States, and Ambassador John Roos, U.S. ambassador to Japan. Ambassador Roos commented, “The relationship between the United States and Japan today is closer than it has ever been. As strong as our ties are, though, they are not self-sustaining. I encourage all of you to become the ‘Reischauers’ of your time, guiding the way to an even stronger friendship between our two great countries.”
The 2012 Reischauer Scholars are deeply engaged in the course, and have been activeparticipants in meaningful dialogue about a variety of Japan-related topics. Topics discussed thus far in 2012 include Shinto and Buddhism in Japanese society, feudal Japan, the modernization of the Meiji era, Japanese colonial legacies, World War Two and war memory, and the impact of the 3.11.11 earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster in northeastern Japan. Concerning 3.11.11, Ambassador Fujisaki commented, “The tremendous goodwill and support from American friends and people around the world… we will never forget it. We count on you to be a future bridge between Americans and the Japanese.”
The 2012 RSP class is comprised of students from the following 14 states: California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, South Dakota, Texas, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin. Upon completion of the RSP in June 2012, students will earn Stanford Continuing Studies Program credit and a Certificate of Completion from SPICE, Stanford University. The RSP has the goal of equipping participants with a rare degree of expertise about Japan that may have a significant impact on their choice of study and future career. Since SPICE started offering the RSP in 2003, Funahashi has noticed that many RSP students have continued to pursue Japan-related academic and extracurricular interests in college and beyond.
The advisory committee members are Consul General Hiroshi Inomata, Consulate General of Japan in San Francisco; Ambassador Michael H. Armacost, Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center, Stanford University; Professor Emeritus Daniel I. Okimoto, Stanford University; Professor Emeritus Nisuke Ando, Doshisha University; Professor Phillip Lipscy, Stanford University; and Gary Mukai, Director, SPICE, Stanford University.