Global economic restructuring is changing the character of rural communities around the world. In Oregon, as in many parts of the United States, rural communities founded upon natural resource extraction and processing have experienced mill closures and increasingly restricted access to resources. Declining employment opportunities have led to an outmigration of youth. Similar dynamics have occurred in rural Japan, leading to an aging rural population and stagnant rural communities. This course focuses on rural community resilience through a comparative case study of communities in both rural Oregon and rural Japan. Our goal is to bring the best young minds to bear on the challenges of revitalizing rural communities in both Oregon and Japan. Funding from the Japanese Ministry of Education supports faculty involved with this project, and provides partial support for this unique opportunity in which Oregon State University and Akita International University students work together to understand and address these issues.
The Rural Resilience Communities program was launched in 2013, with ten students participating - five from each partner university. Hands-on learning and the time to work intensively together led to the development of strong personal and academic connections, and deep intercultural learning on both sides. The success of this program, and its impact on participants, has led to an intention to run the program on an annual basis.
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Students are at the heart of this learning venture, and it is their enthusiasm and engagement that has made it the outstanding learning experience it is.
Click to view a video presentation made by Tasha Livingstone, OSU student and participant in the Resilient Rural Communities 2013 program.