Activities in Fall Semester, 2013

SOC285 Report Fall Semester 2013

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.

Learning Process
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.

Educational Renovation Project Team Akita International University
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.

4. Fieldwork

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
Educational Renovation Project Team Akita International UniversityMr. and Mrs. Yajima, practitioners of natural farming, and students
Educational Renovation Project Team Akita International UniversityMr. and Mrs. Goto of Goto Apple Orchard and students
Educational Renovation Project Team Akita International UniversityMr. Onodera, chrysanthemum farmer and chairman of the Direct-sales Store Association
Educational Renovation Project Team Akita International UniversityMr. Saito of Little Garden
Educational Renovation Project Team Akita International UniversityDirect-sales store Fresh Land Magokoro
Educational Renovation Project Team Akita International UniversityLunch bento from Magokoro
2nd Visit: November 20th (Wed) and 23rd (Sat), 2013
Educational Renovation Project Team Akita International UniversityFarm experience at Yajima Farm
Educational Renovation Project Team Akita International UniversityHarvesting apples at Goto Apple Orchard
Educational Renovation Project Team Akita International UniversityVegetables produced by Mr. Saito
Educational Renovation Project Team Akita International University
Educational Renovation Project Team Akita International University
Educational Renovation Project Team Akita International University

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.

Educational Renovation Project Team Akita International University
Educational Renovation Project Team Akita International University
Educational Renovation Project Team Akita International University
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.

Educational Renovation Project Team Akita International University

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Educational Renovation Project Team Akita International University

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