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Transdisciplinary Program in College of Education, National Taiwan Normal University Visit Chiba University, Japan, Initiating Dialogue on Bilateral Exchange Across “Interdisciplinary X Transboundary” Themes

In 2013, the College of Education at our university signed an MOU with the Faculty of Education at Chiba University, aiming to promote bilateral academic research and interaction through cross-national collaborative research, shared academic achievements, and mutual visits by teachers and students. In accordance with this MOU, in June 2024, 15 students from Transdisciplinary Program in College of Education (referred to as the Program) accompanied by three teachers visited Chiba University to engage in a ' Interdisciplinary X Transboundary ' cultural exchange with students and faculty from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and the Faculty of Education.

The 15 participating students came from various departments, including the Department of Education, Department of Educational Psychology and Counseling, Department of Social Education, Department of Early Childhood and Family Education, and the Department of Civic Education and Leadership. This visit integrated their learning in different specialized fields, enhancing their diverse and international perspectives and their ability to solve cross-disciplinary problems through dialogues across different learning specialties, regions, and cultural contexts.

In addition to classroom exchanges, the Program students and teachers, under the guidance of Vice Dean Hikari Ishido from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and Professor Katsuki Umeda from the Faculty of Education, visited Chiba University’s affiliated junior high school and Kashiwanoha Senior High School. They observed how teachers guided students to achieve educational goals, using a variety of learning activities to enhance student participation and comprehension, rather than just traditional lecture-based teaching. The English teacher at Chiba University’s affiliated junior high school shared in a post-class discussion that his teaching philosophy is to help students 'use' English, rather than just 'learn' it. This discussion gave Program students a deeper understanding of the learning context of Japanese middle school students. At Kashiwanoha Senior High School, the Program students attended an 'Information' class. The vice-principal explained that this course focuses on learning information processing skills, a highly valued ability at the school. Kashiwanoha High School is the only general high school in Japan that emphasizes the cultivation of students' information processing skills. Outside the classroom, the school displayed student learning outcome posters in the hallway, showcasing their creativity and design professional skills.

During the interaction with Chiba University students, the Program students participated in two courses: 'Understanding Other Cultures' taught by Professor Beverley Horne from the Faculty of Education, and 'English Communication,' a joint courses co-taught by three professors from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and the Faculty of Education. In the former, the students engaged in one-on-one exchanges with Chiba University students on various topics, from greetings to sharing languages and cultures and discussing the differences in English learning between Taiwan and Japan. The latter course combined the expertise of three professors in English communication and culture, social fields, and international economics. Students from both sides had to collaborate on and present topics in elementary, junior high, and high school learning materials, covering diverse themes such as gender equality, earthquakes, SDGs, and population issues. These courses facilitated in-depth dialogues and exchanges between the Program students and Chiba University students. Initially, the Program students lacked confidence in their English skills and were worried about using incorrect words and grammar. However, through the use of body language, pictures, and translation programs, they aimed to clearly express their ideas. The students realized that language is a tool, and fear of speaking English is unnecessary; instead, they should fear not trying.

This visit to Chiba University was the second exchange to Japan for the Program, following a visit to Kyushu University in 2023. Through cross-regional exploration and exchange, the program achieved its core development goals of 'Cross-Disciplinary X Cross-Regional.' It enabled students to overcome language barriers, learn to respect and embrace different cultures, and stimulate diverse international thinking.