UMD: A Globally Connected University

UMD-Spring Break: Japan: Disaster Recovery and Resilience in Japan (INST/BSST)

Kesennuma, Japan
Minamisanriku, Japan
Namie, Japan
Tokyo, Japan
Terms offered: 
Spring Break
Program Type: 
Credit Type: 
Minimum GPA: 
Non-UMD Students Eligible to Apply: 
Graduate Students Eligible to Apply: 
EA Advisor: 
Maria Barra
Language of Instruction: 

Japan BSST
Nine years after Japan’s March 11, 2011, earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster, University of Maryland students will travel to Japan to explore how individuals and groups build resilience to disaster through informal and formal practices of community resilience and recovery. The course will focus on Japanese uses of information for these purposes, including storytelling, game-based learning, social media, archives, libraries and memorials. In so doing, the course examines Japanese principles of community and kizuna (“connectedness”) and their role in post-tsunami Japan. Students will travel from Tokyo through the Tohoku region of Japan, meeting with government officials, small business owners, volunteers, educators, and students, to learn how their experiences of disaster have shaped their communities and Japan’s public and private sectors.
Students will participate in 2 weeks of pre-departure online coursework, 1 week of study and travel in Japan and 2 weeks of U.S.-based group work. Students will work in groups while in Japan to acquire footage for a video-based oral history project, which they will compile after the trip. The class will meet two weeks after returning to the U.S. to debrief and to view the video projects.

To learn more about the program, read this article on the 2016 program:

You must be in good academic and judicial standing and you must not have any registration blocks to participate in this program. The minimum GPA for this program is listed above.

UMD and non-UMD freshman, sophomores, juniors, seniors, and graduate students are eligible to apply. Working professionals are also eligible, though an additional application is required. 

The program may tax some individuals more than others, however. Students with mobility concerns may experience difficulty in the rough terrain of the redeveloping Tohoku region or in carrying their own luggage up and down stairs. Students with anxiety disorders, claustrophobia, and/or agoraphobia may experience difficulty using public transportation in Tokyo, especially during rush hours. Students should be prepared to ride in a very densely packed train car for up to 30 minutes at a time. Students with disabilities related to these program activities or others should contact the program director to determine what accommodations are necessary.

If you are interested in this program but do not meet the eligibility requirements, reach out to the program director (listed in the Contacts tab) to discuss your interest in the program.

After you commit to the program, Education Abroad will enroll you in one of the following three (3) credit UMD courses:

  • INST370: Information and Preparedness, Response and Recovery in Japan
  • INST770: Information and Preparedness, Response and Recovery in Japan
  • ANTH469J: Information and Preparedness, Response and Recovery in Japan
  • BSST358J: Information and Preparedness, Response and Recovery in Japan
  • BSST638J: Information and Preparedness, Response and Recovery in Japan 

The credit you earn during this program will count as resident credit.

Graduate students in other departments who may require adapted content to meet departmental expectations should contact the program director to discuss potential further adaptation to meet the needs of their disciplines.

You will stay in shared hotel and guest house accommodations. In most cases, you will have access to wireless internet service and laundry service, at extra cost, but it cannot be guaranteed in all locations. On one night, you will stay in a group homestay experience. Accommodations will be safe and clean, but availability of technology cannot be guaranteed.

Costs are current for spring break 2020.

Application Fee $50
Billable Costs
Billable costs are charged to your student account. They are due based on the Office of Student Financial Services and Cashiering payment schedule. Be sure to check your statements when they are available.
Education Abroad Fee $500
This fee is charged to your account when the application status changes from "Accepted" to "Committed." This fee includes Education Abroad services including registration, billing, advising, risk management, and pre-departure orientation.
International Health Insurance $25
Tuition $1,970
This fee is charged to your UMD account upon course registration. This fee includes: Tuition, in-country transportation, course related activities, group meals, and teaching services.
Housing Fee $375
This fee represents the housing provided during the program.
Out-of-pocket Costs
Meals (estimate) $300
Visa $0
Passport $145
Roundtrip Airfare (estimate) $1,500
Course Materials $0
Optional Activities/incidental expenses $150
Optional trip cancelation/interruption Insurance (estimate) $180

NOTE: If you are a non-UMD graduate student, you will need to pay a $75 application fee to the UMD graduate school to participate in this program.

Please refer to the following resources for more information on funding study abroad

PLEASE NOTE: All University of Maryland study abroad programs are financially self-supporting and, therefore, subject to cancelation due to low enrollment.

Dr. Katherine Worboys Izsak serves as Program Director. She is the University of Maryland (UMD) College of Information Studies’s
(iSchool) Director of Academic Programs, where she is also a Lecturer. Dr. Izsak holds a Ph.D. in History from the University of Michigan and has taught widely on issues
relating to crisis management, emergency response, community resilience, and trauma recovery. She has taught short-term study abroad programs for UMD in Singapore,
Netherlands, Germany, France, and Australia, and has led this program since 2015.

Ms. Michelle Simon is the Program Manager. She is the UMD iSchool’s Program Manager for the Masters in Information Management (MIM). Michelle holds a Master
of Education degree in Higher Education & Student Affairs from the University of South Carolina and degrees in Spanish, Media Studies, and International Studies from Penn State University.

For course, itinerary or in-country information, please contact the Program Director. For general questions or assistance with applying, contact EA Short-term Programs.

The program includes:

  • a one-night homestay with tsunami-affected families in a fishing village;
  • cultural exchange with elementary school students at a tsunami-affected school;
  • visits to ruins of, and memorials to 3/11;
  • participation in disaster simulations and other post-3/11 gamified approaches to preparedness education;
  • visits to local government offices, including:
    • laboratory responsible for preserving all books rescued from 3/11 sites; and
    • tourism agency working to rebuild the economy of towns devastated by the tsunami; and
    • a bus tour of the Fukushima exclusion zone.

Also: karaoke.

Term Year Application Deadline Admission Notification Program Start Program End
Spring Break 2020 10/01/2019 10/11/2019 03/14/2020 03/21/2020