Reflections on the SPICE/CASEER Course at the University of Tokyo
SPICE and the Center for Advanced School Education & Evidence-Based Research (CASEER) at the University of Tokyo offered a fall 2022 Graduate School of Education course.
The following is a guest article written by Elizabeth Plasencia, graduate student at UCLA who studied at the University of Tokyo in fall 2022. Plasencia enrolled in a course at the University of Tokyo’s Graduate School of Education called “Introduction to International and Cross-Cultural Education,” which was co-taught by SPICE Director Dr. Gary Mukai and former CASEER Director Dr. Hideto Fukudome. SPICE will feature several student reflections on the course in 2023.
I am a second-year Master of Public Policy student at UCLA and studied abroad at the University of Tokyo during fall semester 2022 as an exchange student. I was born in Jalostotitlán, Jalisco, Mexico and raised in Atlanta, Georgia. Since my admission to UCLA, I wanted to gain a global perspective during my graduate studies. I decided to challenge myself both culturally and intellectually while embracing a spectrum of commerce, creativity, and community in Japan—beyond the fabric of red, white, and blue.
As part of my research in policy studies, I decided to enroll in the SPICE-CASEER course, “Introduction to International and Cross-Cultural Education,” specifically to learn about educational policy, especially in the areas of ethnic studies and the multi-dimensional purposes of critical pedagogies in the classroom. The SPICE-CASEER course expanded my learning experience through the lens of my classmates’ perspectives, which greatly helped to broaden my interest and appreciation in educational policy and advocacy for educational equity. In addition, for my course research project, I decided not to limit my coursework and research to one specific policy interest. Since my broad interest lies at the intersection of ethnic studies, immigration, and education policy, I decided to explore this intersection through students at the University of Tokyo. I became culturally aware of students’ academic journeys through social and economic factors in their home countries. These stories were derived from interviews of students from Japan, China, Singapore, Mexico, Ecuador, Iran, India, and Saudi Arabia who represented a broad range of disciplines including engineering, education, and policy studies.
Understanding global citizenship is the starting point needed to sharpen one’s toolbox to prepare for the workforce, and taking courses such as this one allowed me the opportunity to study at a research institution such as the University of Tokyo as an international policy novice.
My experiences abroad allowed me to experience a transformative journey of personal development; become flexible and adaptable; witness identities transcend into classrooms from all corners of the world; and embrace a multi-dimensional perspective within policy studies. I learned that public policy reaches a different level of sophistication when pertaining to societal goals and global citizenship through policy makers, researchers, teachers, and students.