International Consortium Comes to Campus
By Julia Gavin
For 11 of the last 13 years, Vice Provost of Graduate Education Dr. Donald Pierson has traveled to either Japan or the West Coast to participate in the Japanese and U.S. Teacher Educator Consortium (JUSTEC) where academics gather to share best practices and collaborative research. This year, Pierson only had to travel as far as the Inn & Conference Center as UMass Lowell welcomed 40 teacher educators from across the U.S. and Japan for the consortium’s first visit to the East Coast from Sept. 11 to 14.
“Everyone enjoyed their time here and was very impressed by the Inn and Conference Center as well as their tour of the campus, boathouse and new construction,” says Pierson. The consortium’s attendees filled all of the inn’s public rooms and spent a good portion of their time in the facility for presentations, discussions and meals.
The goal of the consortium, to encourage collaborative research in teacher education in the U.S. and Japan, was well-reflected in the research and seminars presented this year in 22 sessions, says Pierson. More than 100 regional education leaders attended the keynote address by Brad Jupp, Senior Program Advisor for the U.S. Department of Education, and panel discussions featuring international educators.
Attendees are encouraged participate in presentations and local cultural activities and to visit local schools to round out their stay. This year attendees were able to visit Lowell Public schools to see the community’s elementary and secondary teachers at work and had a visit to Boston.
“People from across the U.S. and Japan gained a greater appreciation of the quality of education provided by UMass Lowell,” says Pierson of the event. “Hosting conference such as this enhances the prestige of the University and is consistent with our growing involvement with international partnerships in education.”
Pierson hopes that involvement in international partnerships will result in more collaborative research and exchanges by participants in the consortium. Several representatives from Tamagawa University in Tokyo are in talks to return to the U.S. in November to learn more about education administrative processes at UMass Lowell, Boston College and New York University.
Collaborative research was a common theme of many presentations. One presentation, “How Japanese Elementary Teachers Recognize and Practice Inquiry-Based Science Teaching Similarly and Differently from U.S. Elementary Teachers” was a collaborative research project by Dr. Sachiko Tosa, who received her doctorate of education from UMass Lowell in 2009 and now teaches as Wright State University, and Kyoko Ishii of the University of Fukuii.
A presentation focusing on several years of student teacher exchanges between Japanese and U.S. universities has Pierson hoping to bring a similar program to the University. “Our curriculum for student teachers is very busy, but there are possibilities during intercessions, which is when the other schools have seen success,” he says.
Pierson and other consortium participants are already eager for next year’s gathering, which will take place in Japan at Naruto University of Education July 6 to 9, but he’s pleased with UMass Lowell’s first time hosting the conference.
“It’s a very worthwhile conference,” says Pierson, “and many attendees said this was the best one yet.”
Supporting Tsunami Relief
To provide student teachers with work experience, JUSTEC partner Tamagawa University has an attached elementary and secondary school. Both institutions were relatively unharmed during the earthquake and resulting tsunami earlier this year, but Tamagawa professors have welcomed 22 students from hard hit areas to live in their homes and attend school in their system for the next six months.
“The children and families need help with transportation expenses to see each other in the coming months,” says Pierson. “Just during the consortium we raised more than $1,000 and pledges are still being counted.”
For more information on donating to Tamagawa University’s Earthquake and Tsunami Relief Efforts, contact Donald_Pierson@uml.edu