2019 Honors in Japan

2019 Honors in Japan

Japanese City Center

2019 Honors Japan Summer A term

Japanese National Identity at the Crossroads: Contested Borders, Shifting Politics

Location: Tokyo, Hiroshima, Kyoto, Japan

Dates: Summer A Term 2019: June 23 to July 19, 2019

Course Credits Credit Type
HONORS 233 5 Honors Social Science  (I&S) “DIV” “W”
HONORS 213 5 Honors Humanities  (VLPA) “W” “DIV”
Honors 384 2 Honors Interdisciplinary (VLPA / I&S) “W”
Honors 384 3 Honors Interdisciplinary (VLPA& I&S) “W” Spring quarter prep seminar. Note: the 2 credits of 384 and spring credits will be combined to create 5 credits of Honors Interdisciplinary

Information Sessions

  • Friday, November 30, 10:30 & 2:30 (repeat sessions in Honors MGH 211)
  • Friday, January 11, 2019, 12:30 & 3:30 (Honors MGH 211)

Program Description

Program Description

This interdisciplinary study abroad program in Japan explores the complex and evolving web of narratives surrounding Japanese national identity. Japan is often considered a puzzle for observers. It experienced unexpectedly phenomenal growth during the post-World War II era, yet it has now spent over two “lost decades” mired in economic doldrums. Japan has a vibrant and mature democracy, yet it has been dominated by a single political party for over 60 years. It is considered a powerhouse of cultural appeal and goodwill by some countries, yet it has heated historical disputes with its Asian neighbors over its imperial past. Japan formally renounced war in its “peace constitution,” but its Self-Defense Forces are considered by many to be one of the most sophisticated militaries in the world.

This program explores these puzzles and more from a variety of perspectives, including history, politics, economics, society, race, gender, culture, literature and the arts. In addition to attending lectures by faculty, students will have the opportunity to experience Japan through visits to important historical and cultural sites in Tokyo and other parts of Japan, including a one-week excursion to Kyoto, Hiroshima, and Miyajima. Participants will also have opportunities to meet current students studying at Waseda University. Other course components include: readings, writing assignments, research, blog posts, reflection, individual check-ins with instructors, and free time for exploration. Students are expected to maintain a research and reflective portfolio and present their final paper and reflection at the end of the program.


Students are housed in dorms at the Olympic Complex in Tokyo (NYC). Students will have their own room and bathroom in Tokyo and shared hotel or hostel rooms in Hiroshima and Kyoto. The housing selected is clean, safe, and secure with regulation safety features and strong security at all gates and within the buildings.

Program Credit / Course Description

HONORS 384 (VLPA/I&S) – 3 credits Spring Quarter Seminar (Time and day TBA, class will meet once weekly hybrid online/in person instruction)

Introduction to Japanese Politics and Society

[mediacredit id=”4672″ size=”medium” align=”alignright” credit=”Julie Villegas”]Japanese beach[/mediacredit]This seminar will prepare students to engage in in-depth study and travel in Japan through lectures, films, and discussions. The course will begin with a brief overview of Japanese history to provide a foundation for our discussions of contemporary issues. In order to better understand the transformation that Japan is experiencing today, we examine key domestic institutions and actors in Japan, including the major political parties, the bureaucracy, business, civil society, and the media. We will also consider important issues in Japan’s relations with its Asian neighbors and the United States. Throughout these discussions, students will be introduced to major theories from history, political science, economics, sociology, and anthropology in order to put Japan into comparative context. The course will also provide a practical guide to Japanese culture and customs. At the end of the quarter, each student will propose an independent project to pursue during their summer study abroad experience.


HONORS 233 (I&S) – 5 credits

Japanese Politics, Economics, and Security in Transition

This interdisciplinary course explores some of the most controversial political, economic, and security issues in Japan today and their links to Japan’s evolving sense of national identity. We focus primarily on the period from the 1990s to the present, examining important shifts precipitated by the end of the Cold War and the bursting of the Japanese economic bubble. We examine Japan’s changing politics, using the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster as a lens through which to examine state-society relations. We then turn to Japan’s changing foreign policy, addressing basing issues, constitutional revision, historical disputes, and soft power. The final section of the course explores changing economics and society during Japan’s “lost decades” in terms of changing employment trends, demographic change, gender, race, and mental health. We also problematize how these issues have been reported in the media.


HONORS 213 (VLPA) – 5 credits

[mediacredit id=”4670″ size=”medium” align=”alignleft” credit=”Julie Villegas”]China Town gate[/mediacredit]

Narratives of Migrant and Mixed ‘Race’ Identities in Japan

This course investigates individual, cultural, and national identity formation, what determines identity labels and who defines social capital. We will use a comparative interdisciplinary model with a foundation in cultural studies/literary studies to learn about topics including: identity and environment; global migration; borders and frontiers (territory issues and global ramifications related to national and individual identity formation; border policy); refugee/migration movements in Japan, Korea, and China and comparatively US border history and policy related to identity politics and the view of the “refugee and “immigrant” as cultural tokens and foils.





HONORS 384 (VLPA/I&S) – 2 credits

Independent Research on Japan

Building on the proposal developed in the spring, each student will conduct an independent research project related to the larger theme of the program. In consultation with instructors, they will develop a plan for developing this project while in Japan. Students will regularly discuss and write about their research as it progresses and they will also work together collaboratively with other students in small groups both in Seattle and Japan. At the end of the program, students will present their research and submit a paper discussing their work.

Program Leadership


Julie Villegas is currently Acting Director of the University Honors Program and the lead for International Programs in Honors and affiliate assistant professor of English. Dr. Villegas is the UW coordinator for Waseda University’s Global Leadership Program Consortium. As lead, she develops and teaches the curriculum for the GLFP Waseda and UW students as well as recruiting and retaining students going to Japan and students arriving from Japan. In 2015, she was the recipient of the International Educators Fulbright Fellowship to Japan. She has extensive experience directing programs abroad (Germany, Japan, Netherlands, Spain, Italy, and Turkey). Her research focus is in the area of American and Global Ethnic Literature, specifically border studies and writings in critical mixed race identity.


Kristi Govella is an Assistant Professor of Asian Studies at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. As a political scientist, her work is located at the nexus of comparative politics and international relations in the Asia-Pacific region, with a particular focus on Japan. She is engaged in a number of projects looking at the relationship between security and economics, regional institutional architecture, and various issues related to contemporary Japanese politics. Prior to joining the faculty at University of Hawaiʻi, she was a Postdoctoral Fellow at Harvard University and an Associate Professor of Security Studies at the Daniel K. Inouye Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies. She holds a Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of California, Berkeley and has spent over six years studying, working, and conducting research in Japan. For more information, see www.kristigovella.com.

Program Expenses

Program Expenses

The costs listed includes tuition via concurrent enrollment fee and all housing and excursions. Students are responsible for most meals, airfare, study abroad fee, and insurance.

Program fee: $4,300

UW concurrent enrollment fee: $450

Average Airplane Ticket: $1,200

Daily out of pocket food costs (approx): $30


Payment Schedule

Program fees will be posted to your MyUW student account and can be paid the same way that you pay tuition and other fees. Check your MyUW Account periodically for due dates.

Payment Type Payment Amount Payment Due Date
Non-Refundable UW Study Abroad Fee $450 July 5, 2019
Program Fee Balance $4,300 July 5, 2019

Making the program affordable

The Honors Program is passionate about study abroad and the incredible impact it can have on a student’s life. Don’t assume you can’t afford to study outside of the U.S.  Here are resources to help you get started on your global adventures!

Honors Program Scholarships

The Honors Program offers a number of scholarships for current Honors Program students. These scholarship funds may be used for UW approved study abroad programs or exchanges. Students may apply beginning in late January (deadline is March 30).

Study Abroad Scholarships at UW

Every student who applies and is accepted to a study abroad program is considered for a scholarship. Scholarship awards are dependent on need and students  may be awarded up to $4,000. Visit the study abroad office in 459 Schmitz Hall to learn more or click here.  Students may also email goglobal@uw.edu for an advising appointment.

There are several outside resources for study abroad scholarships. Visit the UW’s Study Abroad Scholarship page for more information on scholarship support as well as information about GET funds and how you may apply the GET to your study abroad costs.

Using Financial Aid for Study Abroad

You may find more information about using your existing financial aid for study abroad on the Study Abroad Office’s Financial Aid webpage.  In general, all financial aid awarded may be used to support study abroad. Exceptions to this include tuition waivers, work-study awards, or scholarships that are specific about using the award for tuition (although there may be flexibility with some scholarships, please check with the financial aid office). Tuition waivers and work-study are never allowed for study abroad.

Revision of Need

You may also turn in a “Revision of Need” form with the Financial Aid Office if you have a FAFSA on file.  Once you are accepted to a study abroad program, visit the Study Abroad Office to obtain a budget for your study abroad program then complete the Revision Request and turn in both the budget and the revision request to the Office of Student Financial Aid in Schmitz Hall.

Visit the Financial Aid Study Abroad Funding Website for more information about applying for Summer quarter financial aid and for information about Exploration Seminar financial aid timeline (different than A or B term financial aid disbursement timeline).

Application Process

Who Should Apply

This program is open to students in the Honors Program and also students across campus. The program is focused on recruiting a diverse group of students, especially those students who have an interest in Japan-US relations. The program welcomes students of all majors, freshmen-seniors. Freshmen are especially encouraged to apply.

Acceptance into the program will be decided based on application materials, interviews, and student’s demonstrated motivation to challenge themselves intellectually across academic disciplines and cultures and to work collaboratively in small groups.

There are no prereqs or language requirements, although the program directors will encourage students to learn basic words and phrases in Japanese.
Apply NOW!
Deadline: January 31, 2019

Apply NOW!
Deadline: January 31, 2019