Environmental Stewardship knows no geographic or political boundaries, so when Concordia University Wisconsin’s Office of International Studies and School of Education received a request from a Japanese high school to host an environmental camp focusing on freshwater studies and renewable energy, the University jumped at the opportunity.
Chiba Kashiwa Prefectural High School, located northeast of Tokyo, had been seeking quality, foreign-based experiences for their students, both for the science content and unique cultural opportunities. In late July, the school sent a group of 31 students and three faculty members for a 10-day environmental camp at the Concordia Center For Environmental Stewardship. “The camp is a hands-on mix of laboratory and field work,” noted Professor Bruce Bessert, director of the University’s CCES. “Ultimately, each team of Japanese students is responsible for a research project and making a formal presentation of their findings in English.”
The five-year agreement with Kashiwa HS runs through 2015, with selected activities including: 1) Biological and chemical study of the Lake Michigan coastline; 2) Deep water sampling of the lake on a daylong cruise aboard the S/V Denis Sullivan; 3) On-site tours of solar and wind energy facilities in Wisconsin, and hands-on surveys of the animal and plant life of Wisconsin inland streams and rivers; and 4) An overnight field trip to Concordia’s Whispering Pines Retreat Center on Shawano Lake.
This summer, select high school students nominated by their teachers from throughout Wisconsin and surrounding states will be invited to participate in the camps. American students will be partnered with Japanese students in the camp project teams, which will provide excellent cross-cultural exchange for all students, in addition to experiencing the strong science component that the CCES Environmental Camps offer. Negotiations for similar programs are under way with other Japanese schools and other Pacific Rim countries.