The 5th Global Applied Economics Forum (GAEF) visited American University in Washington, D.C for a week in early November 2018. The program also included study tours to New York and Philadelphia. GAEF is a customized program for 3rd and 4th year students with experience of outbound study abroad, and/or a Dialogue program in Department of Economics. GAEF is project-based, challenging students to work intensively in collaboration with an overseas partner university. For this year’s GAEF, the YNU students presented in Washington D.C. at The School of International Service at American University on ‘The Trump Presidency Seen From Japan.’ The American students presented on the topic of ‘The US, Japan and the Senkaku Islands Issue.’ These main events were supplemented with various activities related to US culture and society, with a particular focus on international relations.
They 5th GAEF started in New York where students paid a visit to the United Nations. UN staff member Jessica Newby allowed the YNU group a tour of the building, then gave a talk on her work in peace-keeping. She related her experiences in various locations such as East Timor and Lebanon, giving details on what peace-keeping involves and the various ethical and logistical considerations that come into play.
The program liaison in Washington D.C. was Dr. David Mislan, a former Visiting Scholar with the Department of Economics at YNU. Dr. Mislan’s affiliation with YNU spanned the US presidential election that saw Donald Trump win office. During that time, YNU students were fortunate to have Dr. Mislan on hand to offer expert commentary and analysis of those events. GAEF afforded the opportunity to re-visit those issues and offer fresh insight, as well as to discuss the many issues related to trade, economics and diplomacy that have sprung up in the intervening period.
YNU students were able to participate in various lectures at American University, including ‘Peace, Global Security & Conflict Resolution’ with Professor DeRaismes Combes, in which the topic of how we define the end of war in the modern era was discussed. Another fascinating lesson was ‘Cross-cultural Communication’ with Professor Naomi Moland. YNU and AU students talked about the respective stereotypical images of Japan and the USA, and how they deal with those images in their everyday lives.
The GAEF Dialogue sessions were the main focus of the program, and two were held on different days. The first looked at U.S. and Japan perspectives on the Senkaku Islands. The second involved YNU students presenting on how the Trump presidency is viewed in Japan. The YNU students presented the results of their original survey that showed Japanese university students tend to only show interest in issues related to the Trump presidency that have a direct impact on Japan. The findings revealed that TPP and the summit with North Korea were of considerable interest, and generated discussion among Japanese students, but issues such as the Trump tax return, collusion with Russia, and rifts with mainstream media such as CNN were quickly forgotten or seen as part of the ‘entertainment’ aspect of current U.S. politics. The discussion among the Japanese and American students on these issues continued in an informal pizza party on campus during the evening.
Various other events included a visit to Capitol Hill, home of the legislative arm of American government, the U.S. Congress. A fascinating tour of the building included mention of the original Supreme Court location, controversies over the statues gifted by the various States, and an explanation of the three civilian figures who have lain in honor in the Rotunda, including Rosa Parks in 2005. There was also a trip to Philadelphia were Dr. Mislan gave a tour of the National Constitution Center. Opened in 2003, the Center provides an exhaustive display of facts and items that give the historical context of the Constitution, and highlight its continuing prominence in U.S. political discourse.
Finally, a highlight for the YNU group was the experience of an authentic Thanksgiving dinner cooked by. Dr. Mislan. The generosity and hospitality of Dr. Mislan and his family, inviting the YNU cohort into his home to enjoy this traditional holiday, was deeply appreciated.
The 5th GAEF was an intensive itinerary of academic and cultural activities that will spur participants on to globalized careers after graduation. The program is now established as the final component in the Department of Economics GSE (Global Studies in Economics) package of Study Abroad programs designed to nurture students to be multilingual, multi-skilled leaders in 21st century society. The 6th GAEF will take place at Jagiellonian University, Poland in autumn 2019.