Assessment of Fieldwork Methodologies for Educational Purposes in Sustainability Science: Exercise on Resilience, Tohoku Unit 2015
This chapter introduces the Tohoku Unit, a GPSS-GLI Exercise on Resilience conducted in the northeastern area of the Honshu Island in Japan. This unit consists of a one-week educational fieldwork, where students are exposed to the reconstruction process in Otsuchi Town, Iwate Prefecture that has followed the Tohoku Earthquake Tsunami of March 2011. In the present chapter an assessment of the field exercise is presented in two levels of depth, (1) an application of field methodologies to identify sustainability issues in the reconstruction process, and (2) the contribution of the fieldwork to the development of student’s competencies relevant to sustainability research, following the framework of key competencies in sustainability proposed by Wiek et al. (Sustainability Science 6(2):203–218, 2011a; Environment 53(2):3–13, 2011b). The authors discuss the relationship between the field methodologies utilized and the results obtained in the two levels of the assessment. The results indicate that the field methodologies utilized contributed to a high number of reconstruction issues being identified, with the majority of issues belonging to the social dimension. Also, the different lectures attended during the field work and preparatory work highlighted the highest number of issues identified amongst all three sustainability dimensions (social, economic, environmental). Regarding the competencies, students seem to recognize the importance of the five competencies suggested by Wiek et al. (Sustainability Science 6(2):203–218, 2011a; Environment 53(2):3–13, 2011b), and overall consider the contribution of the field exercise as “satisfactory” to “effective” in promoting these competencies. Final remarks highlight the relevance of considering this framework for future improvements in the design of the units by considering the main competencies that they intend to foster in the students. Also, the authors highlight some of the limitations of the framework in capturing the whole experience of students in the field, and the need to incorporate a deeper analysis of the concept of resilience in future assessments of this field exercise.
KeywordsSustainability Education Assessment Field Exercise Competencies
The authors would like to thank the Graduate Program in Sustainability Science—Global Leadership Initiative for providing the opportunity to participate in this field exercise and in the present book. In particular, the authors thank the faculty involved in the organization of the Tohoku Unit, Dr. Motoharu Onuki, Dr. Miguel Esteban and Ms. Izumi Ikeda. Acknowledgements go to the people of Otsuchi Town, Otsuchi Town Government and Iwate Prefectural Government, as well as to AORI Research Institute and Iwate University. Finally, the authors acknowledge the great contribution of Mr. Orlando Vargas and Mr. Yangqing Chen to the discussion during the assessment of this unit.
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