Peace Studies: Innovative Student-led Educational Extracurricular Activities

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This is a report on the educational merits of an extracurricular community-building learning project undertaken at Kyoto University of Foreign Studies which was begun in April 1997 and is still operating at the time this article was written in early 2012. This project is a micro-financing house-building initiative conducted in collaboration with the NGO Habitat for Humanity International (HFHI). The houses are built to reduce poverty and to provide protection and relief from natural disasters. A description of the project, an outline of its major activities, an analysis of its development as an agent of innovative student-led educational extracurricular activities, and a discussion of the project’s possible links with the curriculum are included. The HFHI extracurricular learning project has benefited the university in three ways. First, the projects have provided students with practical experiences in conceiving, planning, and carrying out action-plan projects which are small-scale simulations of the work of international community-building NGOs and also of logistical and communication aspects of business activities. Second, it may be claimed that the projects outlined in this report have Peace Studies curriculum links in the learning of foreign languages and cultures, the practice of intercultural communication skills and the development of better understandings of global political, social and economic issues. Third, student management of, and participation in, the projects may lead to important attributes of university success: a development of critical thinking capacity and a dedicated engagement in self-regulated learning.


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