Building U.S. and Japan Educational Collaborations through STEMS2: Shared Learning Journeys between the University of Hawai‘i, Mānoa and the University of Tsukuba




Yu, W. E. et al.


Over the last three years faculty from the University of Hawai‘i have been developing a professional development initiative known as STEMS^2. STEMS^2 is a educational construct, pedagogy and a graduate field of study. The construct integrates science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) with the social sciences and sense of place (S^2). STEMS^2 involves study within the context of society and place, giving STEM purpose. By cultivating relationships to place, educators seek to instill a sense of civic responsibility and encourage students to take action. Studying the world through a STEMS^2 lens means that students think critically about how STEM fields are being used and should be used to bring about change in communities. The opportunities STEMS^2 provides for students to connect to the content, the community, and back to their own lives results in increasing student academic engagement and achievement (O’Neill, et al., in press; Yu, 2017). As a pedagogy, STEMS^2 education utilizes interdisciplinary place-based and project-based learning, encouraging students to draw on their sense of self as local and global citizens to emulate the processes of professions in a variety of fields (i.e. historians, engineers, etc.) in an effort to design solutions to real problems in their communities. Faculty of University of Tsukuba (UT) in Tokyo approached University of Hawai‘i faculty about a possible collaboration to see how STEMS^2 could be adapted at UT. Following this initial contact faculty from University of Tsukuba facilitated students and teachers from the 11 laboratory schools affiliated with UT traveling to Hawai‘i to engage in STEMS^2 activities, to discuss the framework of STEMS^2 and to design projects that could be implemented with students in Japan. The collaboration was built on a series of “Learning Journeys” that involve learning by doing. As participants have engaged in these cross continental learning journeys, they realized that the journey itself is more important than the destination. This presentation will describe details on the collaboration among faculties of UT and UHM to build an understanding the STEMS2 and to design projects for students; report the successes and challenges experienced as both faculties attempted to understand the context in which each other worked and the programs and activities that each developed; and seek feedback and suggestions from conference participants on their local experiences in hopes that both universities can advance their programs and collaboration. The feedback may be useful in furthering a collaborative research agenda to inform other educators of the project’s potential.


Yu, W. E., Hamamoto, S., O'Neill, T. B., Kino, Y., Jumalon, S., Nagai, H., Torikawa, S., Zilliox, J. T., & Azmi, A. N. S. (2018). Building U.S. and Japan Educational Collaborations through STEMS2: Shared Learning Journeys between the University of Hawai‘i, Mānoa and the University of Tsukuba. Presented at 30th Annual Japan-US Teacher Education Consortium (JUSTEC) Conference, Kyoto, Japan.