The Japan-U.S. Teacher Exchange Program for Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) provided U.S. teachers and administrators with the opportunity to travel to Japan to learn about ESD efforts and strengthened ESD curricula in both countries. The program was fully-funded with the exception of some meals. ESD was “a vision of education that seeks to balance human and economic well-being with cultural traditions and respect for the earth’s natural resources,” according to the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

Teachers from Japan traveled to the U.S. in late April, and teachers from the U.S. traveled to Japan in late June. At the end of the program in each country, all participating teachers gathered for a few days of joint collaboration.

Participants were required to demonstrate development of ESD curriculum as a result of the program. An impact report on this development and its implementation, including documentation, was submitted within four months of U.S. participants' return from Japan. Participants submitted a reflection report following the Joint Conference.

The Japan-U.S. Teacher Exchange Program for ESD was administered by Fulbright Japan and jointly funded by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the U.S. Department of State and the Japanese Government’s Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology.

The program raised awareness of ESD-oriented school programs, enhanced ESD-related curricula in both countries, and deepened a sense of global interconnectedness between teachers in Japan and the United States. 

The main theme of the program was Environmental Education, incorporating as appropriate Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) such as sustainable cities and communities, as well as leveraging Japan’s increased focus on international education and exchange in advance of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Program Achievements 

  • Increased understanding between the peoples of Japan and the United States and to foster mutual exchange between teachers in Japan and the United States.
  • Enriched twelfth grade curricula and presented teachers with the opportunity to integrate international perspectives and methodologies, specifically in the area of ESD, in classrooms and communities.
  • Enhanced ESD curricula in both Japan and the United States.
  • Expanded professional development opportunities for U.S. and Japanese primary and secondary educators.