Syllabus and Application form


ANT302 & POL304 (Undergraduate)

AG545 & AG546 (Graduate)

Total Credits: 4


Takeshi Ito

Tak Watanabe

Course Staff


This is a field-based practicum course for students who wish to learn about environmental issues in contemporary Japan.  Through hands-on experience with local environmental initiatives in Tokyo and Hokkaido, Japan’s northernmost prefecture, the course will examine the complex interaction between human society and the natural world.

The main objective of the course is to learn about the complex interaction between human society and ecological systems. Through fieldwork and lectures, students will study the causes of environmental problems and explore solutions.

The course is divided into two parts.  The first part, which will take place in Tokyo during the spring semester, will consists of lectures, group work, and field trips in Tokyo.  It will introduce students to environmental studies and prepare them for the field study in Hokkaido.  The second part will take place in Hokkaido for one week and consists of field-based learning and research.

The course is offered jointly by the Faculty of Liberal Arts (FLA) and the Graduate Program in Global Studies (GPGS).  It is financially and administratively supported by the Sophia AIMS program (Center for Global Discovery) and the Office of Academic Affairs.

For Masters students, the course can be taken as part of the Joint Diploma Programme in Sustainability Science with Sophia University and the United Nations University.


This practicum is open to all students at Sophia University, both at the graduate and undergraduate levels.

To take part in this course, students must apply for the course and undergo a screening process.  Student acceptance is based on student statement and academic transcript.  As a course offered by the FLA and GPGS, students will need to have sufficient English language proficiency.

Please also note that by applying for this course, the student is also acknowledging the risks involved in the course’s field component and agreeing to participate in all parts of the course.


Please note that the field trips in Tokyo and Hokkaido will require students to be outdoors.  There will be risks of discomfort and physical injury.

We will trek in mountains and wetlands, walk through dairy farms (with cow dung), take boat rides, and handle small creatures such as insects, oysters, and fish.  There are risks of insect bites (mosquitoes, horseflies) including Lyme disease (ticks) and encounters with other, potentially dangerous wild life (deer, snakes, bears).  Also much of this practicum will be held in the summer season.  This means that we will have to contend with humidity and heat, which may cause heat exhaustion.

While students do not need outdoors experience or farming background to take this course, we ask students to be aware of these dangers.  The staff will take measures to prevent discomfort and accidents and prepare for accidents through insurance, medical kit, and the university support system.

Students will be required to buy clothing and footwear, such as long-sleeve shirts, long pants, hat, rain gear, and rubber boots.  Details will be given during the course meetings.


Undergraduate students will be registered for the following two courses in the Faculty of Liberal Arts.

1) ANT302  Human Ecology: Rivers 1 (Mondays, Period 5)
Prof. Watanabe, 2 credits

2) POL304  Human Ecology: Rivers 2 (Mondays, Period 6)
Prof. Ito, 2 credits


Graduate students will be registered for the following two courses in the Graduate Program in Global Studies:

1) AG545  Human Ecology: Rivers 1 (Mondays, Period 5)
Prof. Ito, 2 credits

2) AG546  Human Ecology: Rivers 2 (Mondays, Period 6)
Prof. Watanabe, 2 credits


Students will cover transportation and accommodation expenses, estimated to be about 110,000 yen.  Most meals will be covered (students will need to pay for a few lunches). The following is the breakdown of the cost.  Please note that this cost will be finalized in the beginning of the semester.

Roundtrip Airfare (Haneda – Kushiro) ¥55,000

Lodging  (6 nights)¥30,000

Other fees ¥25,000

Insurance, meals, Internet data charge, course materials (printing), field equipment (medicine, equipment rental), course t-shirt, facilities fee



To register for this course, all Sophia University students must submit a completed application to the office of the Faculty of Liberal Arts (Building 10, 3rd floor).

Please also email the application to the course email account:

The application is due by Monday April 10th, 2pm.  We will send acceptance emails to students before the end of the course adjustment period.

For SAIMS students: SAIMS students from Southeast Asia are asked to email the application to the Center for Global Discovery ( before arriving in Japan.

The application must have the following two components:

  1. A copy of academic transcript
  2. Statement Essay (400~500 words)
    Undergraduate students:
    Explain why you would like to take this course.
    Graduate students:
    Propose a research agenda or state research interest.


Students must attend all designated classes and participate in all field trips.  Each student will engage in their own projects and present their work.  Student are also expected to contribute to the course blog and submit a final report at the end of the practicum.

The final grade will be determined as follows:

  • Class Participation & Attendance: 30%
  • Individual Project and Presentation: 30%
  • Blog Posts: 20%
  • Final Report: 20%

Class Participation & Attendance (30%): Participation & attendance is mandatory.  This includes completing all readings and participating in class discussions.  During the Hokkaido field trip, students must participate in all meetings and activities.

Individual Project and Presentation (30%): Students will work on individual projects and present their work.

Blog Posts (20%): Each student is required to compose 3 posts in Tokyo and 3 posts in Hokkaido on the course blog.

Individual Essay (20%): Each student will write a 600-800 word essay about the course.  The topic is your choice, but we would like to know what you learned, how the course may have impacted your study and career plans, or suggestions for improvements.


Students are asked to sign up for the following: Moodle to share files (including the readings), Line to communicate, and for our course blog.  Readings and other course materials will be announced during the pre-course meetings.



We fly to Hokkaido from Haneda Airport to Kushiro Airport.  On the ground, we travel by a chartered bus.  We plan to stay at local inns, which will provide meals and lodging.

SCHEDULE (tentative)

    • Course Meetings during Spring Semester
      Mondays, periods 5 & 6 (5:00 ~ 8:30pm)
    • Field Trips & Special Lectures in Tokyo (TBA)
  • Jul 31 (Mon) Tokyo to Kushiro to Akkeshi
    Flight from Haneda Airport to Kushiro Airport
    Lecture on the history and ecology of Akkeshi
    Fishery Division & Archivist of Akkeshi Town
  • Aug 1 (Tue) Akkeshi
    Location: Akkeshi Marine Station
    Topic: Estuary Ecology and Fishery
    – Center for Northern Biosphere, Hokkaido University
  • Aug 2 (Wed) Kushiro
    Morning: Individual Research and Group Work
    Afternoon: Free time
  • Aug 3 (Thu) Kushiro
    Location: Kushiro Seaport and Tsurui Village
    Topic: The Development of Fishing Rights and                   Red-Crowned Crane Conservation
    – Kushiro City Fishery Division
    – Kushiro Fishing Cooperative Association
    – Japan Wild Bird Society (Ito Sanctuary)
  • Aug 4 (Fri) Kushiro
    Location: Kushiro River
    Topic: River Restoration and Rewilding Salmon
    – Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism
    – Kushiro Salmon Society
  • Aug 5 (Sat) Kushiro
    Location: Lake Takkobu                                                  Topic: Forest Conservation and Restoration
    – Ministry of the Environment
  • Aug 6 (Sun) Kushiro to Tokyo                                                            
    Flight from Kushiro Airport to Haneda Airport
  • Aug 10th – Due Date for Final Report

One Comment

  1. This course has captured my interest. Coming from a tropical country with many water bodies (rivers, streams, ponds, tributaries, ) in both dendritic and trellised patterns, I find this course to be of great significance. Many of the rivers in my country are unnavigable however.

    I have two questions:
    1. Will the course and related travels not affect other scheduled academic activities?
    2. Is there a possibility for financial aid to cover related travel and lodging cost especially for foreign scholarship students?

    I will be pleased to receive your response.

    Best regards,



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