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Japan: Art, Politics and Economy
Naha, 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
Eligible GPA: 2.5 Language of Instruction: English
Prerequisite: None Liberal Studies Domain: JYEL
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.



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. As of May 18, 2015 the course meeting dates will be Wednesday nights from 6-9pm Sept 23, 30, Oct 7, 28 and Nov 4, 11 (in 990 W. Fullerton) during Fall Quarter, and Jan 6, 13, 20 (in 1150 W. Fullerton) for Winter Quarter. These dates, however, are subject to change; any updates will be available upon acceptance and/or from the Program Directors upon commencement of the Fall Quarter.

In the fall quarter, students register for PSC 359 - Topics in Comparative Politics: Okinawa in Asia: Culture, Politics, and Business, taught by Kathryn Ibata-Arens. 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.

OkinawaInIn the winter quarter, students register for ART 395/AAS 290/MOL 397 - Special Topics in Studio Art: Arts & Culture of Okinawa, Japan, taught by Laura Kina. 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.

Kathryn Ibata-Arens: Associate Professor of Political Science. Chinese Studies, Japanese Studies, Global Asian Studies, Honors Program, Multicultural Program affiliated faculty. Ibata-Arens is a political economist with expertise in Asian (especially Japanese) business, culture, economy, international relations, politics, entrepreneurship, and high technology ventures. Twitter: @IbataArens

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

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


Arts/Culture: Prefectural Museum and Art Museum, Haebaru Town 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



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 and a program fee. Tuition is billed at the students regular DePaul tuition rate based on the number of credits enrolled. Click here for the program fee for your program. Read the details carefully to understand exactly what is included. Please also note the withdrawal policy.


If you are planning to study abroad and do not have a passport, apply for one immediately. Some programs require students to obtain student visas. In that case, contact the country's local consulate or embassy for up-to-date instructions. Please note that visa requirements can change quickly. The Study Abroad Program will update this website to reflect changes as they become available.


Questions about this program? Contact your study abroad advisor Kristen Ware kware3@depaul.edu or visit during your advisor’s open advising hours.


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.

This program is currently not accepting applications.