by Marie Veillette
After a six-year hiatus, the Hiroshima Peace Studies Tour course will again be offered spring 2016. The class fulfills the LASC 8 goal of the Dragon Core requirements, and includes a week-long trip to Japan during spring break.
Even though the course will not commence until next spring, information about the cost and structure of the class is available.
“I wanted to get the information out early so people could see the cost and save up for it if they’re interested in the course,” Physics professor Ananda Shastri, said. Shastri will be teaching the class and leading the tour of Hiroshima.
Currently, the cost of the trip without including tuition is set at $3,392. This number includes airfare, hotel, food and some additional spending money. Students interested in taking the class would pay this amount over four installments in the fall semester.
“What we do is before the trip, for all their expenses in Japan, we buy Yen before we go,” Shastri said. “And then we give them a pack of money and we give them the budget. Say this is about how much you need for each day. We let them manage it beyond that.”
Though the estimate may change slightly, Shastri said the updated figure is always available on the class website.
In the past years, Shastri co-taught the class with Professor Takanori Mita, who teaches Japanese language and culture courses. Though Shastri will be taking on the course on his own this time, he expects to team up with Mita for certain cultural aspects, including teaching some basic language phrases.
The course does not have any prerequisites and is open to all majors. The only requirement to register is to meet a minimum GPA level.
“Beyond that, it’s open to everyone,” Shastri said.
The course will be open to between 10 and 15 students, and will meet Wednesday evenings for two hours leading up to the trip.
“Essentially, one hour is dedicated to the academic part of the course,” Shastri said. “Another hour is dedicated to preparing students for the trip, so the cultural experiences tie into the LASC 8 Global Studies goals.”
But what are the LASC 8 goals? Shastri explained it has a great deal to do with examining individual lives on a global scale.
“The main thing is it’s a global studies course, so the goal is ‘what does it mean to be a good global citizen.’ I think that’s the main thing: an appreciation of things that are different and a willingness to experience them for what they are, not trying to make them into what you think they should be.”
As for cultural goals for the course, Shastri wants students to be able to tailor the experience to their preferences.
“The course will be structured so students can choose a set of experiences, and then ahead of time we’ll get them ready for the things they would encounter on those,” he said. “Then they can try to do that when we’re in Japan. There is quite a bit of time that is unstructured that will be geared toward this cultural side of the course where they get to see if they can accomplish the cultural experiences they were interested in.”
A few mandatory events students will attend while traveling Hiroshima include trips to the Peace Museum and Peace Park, which holds “…many artistic works related to peace, created and contributed by many countries.”
There will also be a day trip to Miyajima Island, which is home to the World Heritage Foundation International Cultural Site.
Students will also listen to lectures at Hiroshima University by members of the Hiroshima Peace Institute, a group of scholars dedicated to analyzing different aspects of peace.
There will be one class meeting upon return to Fargo “…to give people a chance to talk about their complete experience.”
So how did a physics professor become interested in taking a class to Japan? Shastri explained his interest in the area was sparked from a personal connection.
“My wife is from Hiroshima, so when we were younger, when we went to graduate school, I went there several times for family visits,” he said. “It’s a beautiful city. It’s a very nice place to walk around. I guess I always had it in the back of my mind if I ever had the chance, this would be a beautiful city to bring people to. There’s historical context for it as well.”
Though there have already been two preliminary informational meetings, Shastri said he plans to hold more in the fall for interested students. However, all information about the course is available on the website: physweb.mnstate.edu/Hiroshima.