Intensive Language Study in Japan
2011 Heiskell Award Honorable Mention: Study Abroad
Nomination submitted by: Kate E. Simon, Program Coordinator
The Japan Center for Michigan Universities (JCMU) was established in 1989 as a consortium of fifteen public universities in Michigan seeking to create a more sustainable and successful study abroad experience in Japan for Michigan students. Working with Michigan's sister-state, Shiga Prefecture, the universities created a facility in Hikone, Japan to build instructional capacity in Japanese language, history, religion, politics, geography, health care, environmental studies, and cultural studies.
Drawing from 15 Michigan universities, JCMU enrolls students from across the state who might otherwise have few international experiences. "It is a portal to Japanese language education, experience, knowledge and inspiration," says Michael A. Boulus, Executive Director of the Presidents Council, State Universities of Michigan. "Over 2,400 alumni have returned from JCMU with memories, stories, new language skills and a new attitude about the world."
The expansion of the program over the years has been marked by efforts to increase inclusiveness. In 1999, JCMU developed a culture/career hybrid curriculum model for non-language-intensive students, creating a balance of traditional language education and professional opportunity for students interested in science, health, technology and business. After an extensive review, JCMU implemented revised disability protocols and admitted its first quadriplegic student in 2008. Finally, the program's low cost encourages representation from diverse socioeconomic groups: JCMU remains one of the few Japanese study abroad programs that offer a full semester (16-week) program for less than $10,000.