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Japan: Art, Politics and Economy
Okinawa, Japan (Outgoing Program)
Program Terms: December
This program is currently not accepting applications.
Restrictions: DePaul University applicants only
Click for Tuition + Program Fee December
Dates / Deadlines:
Thank you for your interest in this program! We are not currently accepting applications. In general, applications open about 6 months before program application deadlines.
Fact Sheet:
Program Type: Short-term Academic Level: Graduate, Undergraduate
Recommended GPA: 2.5 Language of Instruction: English
Prerequisite: None Liberal Studies Domain: EL
Program Description:


On this trip to Okinawa, Japan, students learn about how art and politics interact with everyday lives, history, and economics. Using photography and journals, students document their experiences as they explore and experience traditional Okinawan craft and contemporary art practices and learn about community based economic development against the backdrop of Okinawa’s colonial, post-colonial and militarized history. Upon return, students share and reflect on their findings which culminate in a final project.

Located in the subtropical zone and at the intersection of three major East Asian civilizations—China, Korea and Japan—the islands known collectively as the Ryûkyû Kingdom from the mid-15th century to the late 19th century have a unique political, economic, social and cultural footprint. Throughout the archipelago's struggle against Japanese colonialism (1879-1945; 1972-present) and its history as a battle zone in World War II, the longest-U.S.-occupied part of Japan (1945-1972), and the home of two thirds of U.S. military bases in Japan, generations of people in Okinawa have produced their own rich and resilient culture.

The group stays in Naha city where students visit Shurijô Castle and explore the lively Kokusai Dori Street and Makishi Public Market, and enjoy city night life. The group tours the island from the far north to the south to see historic and economic development/new business incubator sites, and visit research universities, museums and other cultural venues, attend special events, and visit with scholars and artists.



Kathryn Ibata-Arens is a Vincent de Paul Professor of Political Science and Director, Global Asian Studies. Ibata-Arens is a political economist with expertise in Asian (especially Japanese) business, culture, economy, international relations, politics, entrepreneurship, and high technology ventures. 

Laura Kina is a Professor and Vincent de Paul Professor of Art, Media, and Design, and Global Asian Studies affiliated faculty and Director of Critical Ethnic Studies. Kina is an artist with expertise in Asian American studies, critical mixed race studies, Hawaii, and Okinawa. She shows and lectures nationally and internationally.


Students register for a total of 8 credits for this program. In addition to the trip, the courses meet jointly for approximately 5-6 times in the fall quarter and 3 times in the winter quarter.

Course: PSC 359/ AAS 290, Topics in Comparative Politics: Okinawa in Asia: Culture, Politics, and Business
Credits: 4 credit hours
Term registered: Fall 2017
Taught by: Kathryn Ibata-Arens
Liberal Studies Domain: Experiential Learning (EL)
Course Description:  
 This course introduces Okinawan culture, politics, and business. Pre-trip classes provide an overview of Okinawa’s (Ryukyu’s) unique culture, nationalism, struggle for independence and economic development as well as business and political relations with Japan, other Asian countries, and the United States. Students complete a photo journal of their sights and experiences in Okinawa for the final project.

Course: ART 395/ AAS 290/ MOL 397, Special Topics in Studio Art: Arts & Culture of Okinawa, Japan
Credits: 4 credit hours
Term registered: Winter 2018
Taught by: Laura Kina
Course Description: This studio course introduces Okinawan arts, culture, history, and politics. Pre-trip classes provide an overview of arts and crafts from the former Ryûkyû Kingdom, Japanese rule (1879-1945), U.S. occupation (1945-1972), and post-reversion to Japan (1972-present). Students use photography and journaling on the trip to create a final individual studio art project.

OkinawaPlease note that although some courses are registered in a particular term, some coursework or final assignments may be due in a different term. E.g. Course registered in winter quarter, but coursework is due in spring quarter once the travel component of the program is complete.


Arts/Culture: Prefectural Museum and Art Museum, Himeyuri Peace Museum, Sakima Art Museum, talks by contemporary artists, karate and bingata masters.

Industry/Tourism/History: Yomitan pottery village, Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium, Shurijô Castle, Seifu Utaki, Okinawa Prefecture Peace Memorial Park

Education/Research: Ryukyu University, Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology, Okinawa Prefectural Art University



The group stays in a business class hotel in Naha city just steps from the Yui Rail (monorail) and the heart of the tourist district of Kokusai Dori Street. Students will be paired with one roommate. Restaurants, convenience stores, shopping, and evening entertainment venues are nearby.


All students participating in study abroad will be charged both tuition (billed at the regular DePaul tuition rate, based on the number of credits enrolled) and a program fee.  Please read the program fee details carefully to understand exactly what is included, as this can vary from program to program.  If the program fee is posted, be sure to note whether the fee is current or from a previous year (past program fees may serve as a guide until the current program fee is available).  If the current program fee has not yet been posted, please check back closer to the application deadline. Please also note the withdrawal policy.

DePaul offers several types of scholarships for students studying abroad, and students should visit the scholarship page early in the application process for information on eligibility and deadlines.  Students are also encouraged to speak with the DePaul financial aid office for more information about financing their study abroad experience.


If you are planning to study abroad and do not have a passport, apply for one immediately. Some programs require travelers to obtain visas. In that case, contact the local consulates or embassies of the countries you will be visiting for up-to-date instructions on how to apply for them. As of this publication, students on the Japan program who are US citizens might need a visa. Please note, however, that visa requirements can change. The Study Abroad Program will update this website to reflect changes to the visa requirements as they become available.


Questions about this program? Contact your study abroad advisor, Erica Rideaux.

DePaul University does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, or handicap in admissions, employment, or the provision of services. Inquiries regarding this policy should be addressed to the Director of Human Resources, 1 East Jackson Avenue, Chicago, Illinois 60604.

Circumstances, such as an unexpected event abroad or a curriculum change at a host institution, may require DePaul University to make changes to the program. DePaul University reserves the right to cancel or alter programs and courses without notice. 

This program is currently not accepting applications.