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Report on an international Joint Seminar in Stockholm

The Stockholm seminar was an initiative of the University of Tokyo and the University of Stockholm in which later on the University of Jyväskylä joined. The initiation of this yearly seminar was a part of a more comprehensive scheme of the University of Tokyo that got funded by the government of Japan as a fragment of internationalization of higher education in the country. This year’s topic of the seminar was ‘Towards the Realization of Sustainable Future’.

The main reason that this seminar seemed appealing at first glance was this topic. Sustainability is a topical subject in a variety of avenues however, it is difficult to pinpoint what is actually meant by it and in which context it is audited. The ambiguity of this concept broadens when concrete ways to achieve it are discussed. This seminar was an attempt to further look at this gap and see how sustainability should, could and must be reached in a practical manner.


First Day
The seminar was held for three days and each day was packed with numerous activities. The programs could be divided into three categories, student input/presentations, academics input/presentations and finally school visits. A student from each university presented on student life and experience of studying at their respective universities during the first day started. With consideration of time scarcity, the presentations on study experiences were rather superficial and brief. Yet, one could still get a general understanding of how different education is approached and perceived at these universities by just simply paying attention to the way each student group decided to present their experience.

Students at the University of Stockholm started these presentations by a video which was bits of interviews with other students. The way they presented their experiences together with the content of the presentation conveyed a feeling of student-centeredness and relative room for creativity in their studies. Next students of the University of Tokyo presented their experiences in a conventional way. They literally took the idea of expressing and explaining their typical day as a student. They also had conducted a survey to get quantitative data from their fellow students. Their presentation showed how pact a timetable of a Japanese student could be. They argued that most of the students in Japan have part-time jobs which leaves them next to no time for themselves. The way they had decided to illustrate their experience displayed a sense of seriousness, rigid frameworks and massive workload. The students of the University of Jyväskylä were the last to open up their experiences as students. The presentation was musically themed since each slide had a song that was meant to complement the content of it. Then again, the way we presented our experiences was a lead to how much freedom and trust we are given and to what extent creativity of the students are encouraged. The fact that we were not wanted to present anything specific but our genuine lived experiences was a cherry on top of the whole process.

Later that day, professors and program coordinators of each university presented their degree programs. Probably, the most important takeaway from these presentations was how unequal the University of Tokyo is with regards to gender. The number of students who identify themselves as females was significantly lower than the one who considered themselves as males. There are countless political, historical and socio-cultural reasons for this situation which are beyond the endeavours of this text but this inequality must be taken into account considering the general celebration of Japan as a developed country in the 21st century. This reflects how economical advancements and position of a country regarding their overall power can overshadow important and critical considerations in social matters.


Second Day
Next, participants of the seminar got separated to attend different sessions in which students presented on sustainability. The session that was attended by the author consisted of five students’ presentations. The presentations varied from a civil initiative to genetics reflecting the inclusivity of the idea of suitability. The first presentation was on ‘Global Citizenship in Language Textbooks’ by Sofia Marchesini. The next presentation was on ‘Enhancing Student Wellbeing through Agency in the Context of Academic Freedom’ by me and Sam Madtha. Next Kana Yokoyama presented on ‘EMPOWER Project – promoting sustainability and equality through arts and cultures’. In addition, the final presentation in this session was on ‘Considering the need of education from a medical perspective’ by Kugui Yoshida.


Third Day
The next day was dedicated to the school visit. Global Gymnasiet in Stockholm was visited but unfortunately, it was during a study break so students and teachers were absent and no teaching sessions were observed. However, the school principal explained the Swedish education system but what stood out was how politically correct she was throughout the presentation. She wonderfully refrained from labelling students, something that can be a take away from this experience. The seminar came to an end that day.

The most foremost point that I learned during this seminar was to grasp the capacity of a sustainable world. Sustainability is not a destination or goal to be reached or achieved. It is a process that involves everyone in whatever they do to hold them accountable for respecting and caring for themselves and others in order to build a society in which everyone with any ability or competence has an equal opportunity to unlock his/her full potential.

Faraz Roshanizand



Report on an international Joint Seminar in Stockholm Report on an international Joint Seminar in Stockholm Reviewed by ambassadors on 09:32 Rating: 5

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