Innovations in Civic Participation partnered with the US-Japan Council and the TOMODACHI Initiative to launch an innovative new exchange program between American and Japanese universities in 2014. The TOMODACHI-ICP Collegiate Civic Engagement Program was designed to develop partnerships between university students and staff in multiple regions of Japan and the United States. This program aimed to cultivate the next generation of civic leaders and social entrepreneurs in Japan while simultaneously establishing structures for sustained bilateral exchange. Students had the opportunity to experience a transformational exchange program and focus on knowledge sharing and institutional change.
(1) In January 2014, ICP staff and civic engagement and social entrepreneurship experts traveled to Japan in order to learn about Japanese efforts to promote civic engagement and social entrepreneurship.
(2) In February 2014, Japanese university professors and student leaders from universities in Okinawa, Tohoku, and Tokyo traveled to the US in order to attend the Ashoka U Exchange hosted at Brown University. The Japanese delegation conducted campus visits in order to examine various models of civic engagement and social entrepreneurship at participating US universities.
(3) In July 2014, Japanese students and university staff who participated in the 1st component of the project partnered with subject matter experts in civic engagement to host and design three civic engagement and social entrepreneurship workshops at Okinawa International University, Tohoku University and the University of Tokyo , for students and faculty.
Program participants sought to:
- Enhance Japanese university students’ leadership potential by facilitating exchanges with experts from US universities in the fields of civic engagement and social entrepreneurship
- Enable university management and faculty to develop institutional practices that can further Japanese universities’ commitment to civic engagement and social entrepreneurship through exchanges with American peers
The TOMODACHI Initiative is a public-private partnership that was born out of support for Japan’s recovery from the Great East Japan Earthquake. The initiative is focused on investments in the next generation of Japanese and American leaders through educational and cultural exchanges as well as entrepreneurship and leadership programs.