The 10-week Japan Summer Program is allowing Georgia Tech students to study sustainable development in Tokyo. This program provides students from across campus, many of them engineers, opportunities to solve real world problem in sustainability. Brian Woodall, professor in the Sam Nunn School of International Affairs in the Ivan Allen College is the program director. The program is generously supported through funding from the Coca Cola Foundation and Georgia Tech’s Center for Serve-Learn-Sustain.
There are four courses taught in the Japan Summer Program and each of them utilizes problem-based learning (PBL), a pedagogy in which students are organized into teams tasked with solving real world problems of sustainability.
PBL requires that students become self-directed learners, ready and able to extend their knowledge through systematic inquiry. This means that students spend a good deal of time outside of class seeking reliable, up-to-date, and relevant information needed to solve the team’s problem.
To succeed in a PBL environment, students must hone their teaming, communication, and interpersonal skills. Because the Japan Summer Program is based at Tokyo Institute of Technology, it is a unique position to pursue PBL in multidisciplinary, cross-cultural teams composed of students from both universities. This creates terrific opportunities for students to deepen and broaden their conceptual base in engineering and social scientific analysis, while becoming disciplinary and cultural boundary spanners.