Kent State Professors and Students Attend Physical Education Summer Institute in Japan

Four Kent State University faculty members and students traveled to the University of Tsukuba in Japan for the Tsukuba Summer Institute, as part of an academic exchange agreement reached in March.

Kent State University students Kathryn Damicone and Collin Epstein explore the Japanese traditional sport Kendo with Kent State professors Steve Mitchell and Takahiro Sato, and Tsuyoshi Matsumoto, associate professor at the University of Tsukuba.  (Photo provided by Takahiro Sato)The Tsukuba Summer Institute promotes exchange of the latest information from the fields of physical education, sports management, recreation and sport sciences, while also nurturing and improving the practical skills of working adults, university students and graduate students involved in various areas of physical education and sport.

Professor Stephen Mitchell and Assistant Professor Takahiro Sato, both from the School of Teaching, Learning and Curriculum Studies, along with Kathryn Damicone, senior physical education major, and Collin Epstein, curriculum and instruction graduate student, attended the Tsukuba Summer Institute from July 12-19.

Students and professors from 14 countries attended the Tsukuba Summer Institute. Professors in attendance served as keynote speakers and facilitators.

“Kent State was chosen for the exchange agreement based on our topics of expertise,” Mitchell says. “Kent State specializes in what the institute wanted to focus on.”

Mitchell presented a lecture on “Teaching Games for Understanding,” with Sato serving as a language translator. He also conducted a workshop for graduate students and faculty in the Physical Education Teacher Education program. Sato conducted a workshop for graduate students and faculty who are studying adapted physical education on strategies for including students with disabilities in physical education. He also facilitated group projects in the graduate session.

At the Tsukuba Summer Institute, the first involved lectures, presentations and discussions on “Sustainable Renewal and Professional Development in the fields of Physical Education, Exercise Science, the Olympics and Sport Coaching.” The second phase focused on sustainable renewal in physical education.. Undergraduate students who attended the Tsukuba Summer Institute experienced Japanese Sports, laboratory tours and mental training workshops.

Sato says he learned about cross-cultural research topics in teaching physical education, sports and coaching, exercise science, curriculum models, research methods and future goals of kinesiology from the professors of other countries.

Damicone had the opportunity to network with other students at the summer institute. She enjoyed the classes and the hands-on experience of learning about Japan’s sport culture, which she says was fun and informational.

“My interaction with students from other countries was what I loved most about the entire experience,” she says. “I enhanced my career skills in physical education, both by learning about physical education as it applies to cultures around the world and inspiring ideas of how to incorporate this into a future classroom. My experience was invaluable and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”

Epstein says they participated in Japanese traditional sports, such as kendo and judo.

“I was amazed at the differences culturally, in general, and also specific to physical education and sports,” Epstein says. “The Japanese place a high importance on their traditions and focus on the whole experience of sports and not so much on the competition and importance of winning. I would hope to take some of these traditions and apply them to future physical education classes and to my coaching basketball in the United States.”

“It was a very good experience,” says Mitchell. “It was a very nice opportunity to experience a new country and a new university.”

“I personally feel that this opportunity benefitted students greatly,” says Sato. “They learned spirit, symbols and the culture of Japanese martial arts. This type of cross-cultural experience enhances diversity awareness in different cultures.”

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POSTED: Monday, August 26, 2013 - 12:00am
UPDATED: Tuesday, April 21, 2015 - 12:21pm
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