For the 3rd quarter from late September to late November, the problem-solving course had held (chief professor is Professor Taro Yamauchi, Faculty of Health Sciences). Assistant Professors Tomomichi Kato and Yoshitaka Uchida, both in Research Faculty of Agriculture, had classes, supported as group facilitators by Associate Professor Miho Namba (Nitobe School), Assistant Professors Shotaro Imai and Ankit Ravankar (Nitobe School), Mr. Alan Milby, and Mr. Alex Babulall, both from British Council (BC).
The aim of this course is to learn methods for solution or mitigation to some problem occurring in the real society, and to develop the ability to proceed with activities across specialized fields through group work. The students were divided into either Tuesday class or Thursday class, each class consisting of five groups.
In the first lesson experts on campus provided their own special topics for the students. On the Tuesday class, two of them gave lectures on problems of (a) genetically modified crops and of (b) control of raccoon as an invasive alien species, on the Thursday class, the other two on those of (c) lead pollution in Zambia and of (d) Ainu culture.
In the second session, two invited lecturers from University of Lapland in Finland had a talk on “Service Design”, and the students learned in the workshop some skills for solving problems on services.
From the third session, a group work began in a full-scale way. For example, Assistant Professor Uchida on Thursday class had conversations with students and such questions as “what is the problem?”, “why is that important?”, “what has it been made for resolving the problem?”, “what is the obstacle?” on (c) and (d). While having dialogue, he wrote down key words on a white board and clarified essential topics. Thus, after the students found mattes in question and a way to approach them, they chose one problem for each group and started to investigate. They surveyed the literature and the Internet, gathered information sometimes by interviewing experts, fixed an approach to the problem, and explored how to solve it. A teacher took care of one group as a facilitator, and advised in an appropriate way.
On October 24, the students gave a presentation in each team, and took several questions and comments by the mentors. They had understood their tasks and approach to its resolution, and served to improve their way of presentation. In subsequent sessions, BC teachers gave a lecture for effective presentation, and a specialist a lecture on how to proceed with research properly.
In the final session, the students in each group had a presentation in English on a proposal for solving the problem. There were such various topics as deer problem in Hokkaido, genetically modified rice problem, educational and social problem of Zambian children. They learned a lot through interaction with teaching staff and other oversea professors.