Thirteen student participants
The students broke up into four groups and conducted interviews with the staff of Direct-Sales Farm Produce Store Fresh Land Magokoro, Little Garden, and Yajima Farm, which were trying to expand their agricultural businesses into the secondary and tertiary industry sectors in Akita City, Akita Prefecture. The life stories described by the students and the comments from the local people who collaborated in the study can be viewed in the reports.
1. Theories and Cases
Fundamental theories of community development as well as cases of some of the issues that Japan and Akita Prefecture are facing and solutions to those issues were ascertained through the student presentations on the assigned literatures and discussions.
2. Guest Speaker
Ms. Yuko Sugawara, Agricultural Economy Division, Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Akita Prefecture
In the lecture titled “Reinvigoration of communal activities through expansion of the agriculture businesses into the secondary and tertiary industry sectors in Akita Prefecture,” based on various statistical documents and cases from the field, Ms. Sugawara explained the current state of affairs of Akita Prefecture. After the lecture, an active Q&A session took place between Ms. Sugawara and the students.
3. Qualitative Survey Method
The qualitative survey method and life stories were learned through the student presentations on the assigned literatures and through discussions. To enhance the effectiveness of the survey by interviews, the students practiced life-story interviews by dividing into groups of three, prepared the questionnaire forms, reviewed the interviews conducted amongst themselves as well as the students’ own biases, and engaged in the exercise of describing life stories using videos.
The students visited unique farming families (in Akita City, Akita Prefecture) that were assigned to each group on two separate occasions to conduct interview surveys, experience farming activities and help sell the farm produce at direct-sales stores.
1st Visit: October 16th (Wed) and 19th (Sat), 2013
2nd Visit: November 20th (Wed) and 23rd (Sat), 2013
Helping the sales of the farm produce at Wakakusa Market in front of the Izumi branch of Hokuto Bank
5. Data Sorting
The students sorted the data from the field notes and videos and put together the life stories of the interviewees, through which the students were able to vicariously experience the joy and hardship of engaging in communal activities as well as to learn a great deal from the personality and inventiveness of the interviewees. While standard Japanese and the Akita dialect are used in the fieldwork, English is exclusively used to sort, analyze and discuss the data in class. Communication skills and the ability to sympathize with others are essential both in the field and classroom.
Briefing Session on the Learning Results
The briefing session on the learning results was held on December 4th (Wed), 2013. In front of an audience that consisted of the farming families who volunteered to be interviewed, the students gave group presentations on the life stories of the interviewees and a realistic approach to the development of the community, which could be inferred from the life stories. The presentations given by the groups were quite unique, in which PowerPoint slides and video images were used effectively. In addition, the farming families and students were able to have a session where the opinions from both sides were exchanged. After the briefing session concluded, participants socialized with one another while enjoying home-cooked meals made by the farming families.