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Course list and descriptions for 2023

all edu-odyssey Courses strive to equip students with leadership qualities and integrated understanding to prepare them for international business and social engagements

Anime Style Character Design (Japan, Semester, Summer, Online) 3 credits

Instructor(s): Ryo Hitaka ひたか良 , Katsumi Kurata 倉田克己

This course is designed for students interested in enhancing their ability to create Japanese manga-styled characters to incorporate into their artwork or design projects, and in gaining an understanding of the history and creative philosophy of Japanese character development. This course includes an artistic and theoretical overview of the design techniques common to Japanese animation pertaining to character development and design, and will also introduce students to Japanese traditional and modern aesthetic understanding and tendencies, in comparison to western and other Asian preferences. There is a cultural and an artistic component to the class, as well as practical. Friendly critiques will help students sharpen their analytical gaze towards creative projects and facilitate exchange between creative community members. This course is offered virtually as a full semester course, and as an in-person immersive semester in summer. Course is taught by acclaimed, published manga artists.

Cool Japan: Japan in Modernity (Japan, Tokyo, Summer) 3 credits

Instructor(s): Erdal Küçükyalçın, PhD; Jennifer Norris

Modern Japanese culture has permeated international pop culture and marketing spheres in an unparalleled way, attracting attention of a wide range of fans and critics from diverse fields and spawning a number of creative offshoots and manners of participation. This course takes a broad-strokes look at the history, origin and cultural contributions to and from specific significant features of Japanese pop culture while integrating field excursions to understand more completely how those inputs continue to manifest and affect culture as experienced and understood today in modern Tokyo. 

Japan throughout the Eras: Arts, Culture and History (Japan, Kyoto, Summer, 3 credits)

Instructor(s): Erdal Küçükyalçın, PhD; Jennifer Norris

This course is specially designed to offer students an insight into the history and significance of traditional and classical Japan, as well as introducing students to the vibrancy and variety of Japan’s hybrid traditional society. It aims to provide an inspirational energy that will assist students, no matter their major, in both creative and critical substance. Lectures and studious orientations will prepare students to place in artistic and historical context their impressions gained during the many field trips and excursions. The course journal and goal objectives will allow for work in creative writing, sketching, photography, and critical essays. A literature and social survey will provide students with examples of early to modern Japanese moral, artistic and literary attitudes.


The full immersion the course entails, along with academic and practical orientations, will help students to gain a truly meaningful understanding of the nation’s overall relationship between its classical traditions in art, literature and religion, and its modern way of life. This course can be taken independently during the summer session in Kyoto, or can be taken as a compliment to the Cool Japan course in Tokyo, which provides a look into the subsequent modern aspects of Japanese culture.

Leadership Across Cultures (Semester, Winter, Summer, all locations) 3 credits

Instructors: Erdal Küçükyalçın, PhD; Jennifer Norris

This is an introductory course on cross-cultural leadership designed not just for business or communications majors, but as a practical introduction to cultural competencies that factor in to social, personal and professional exchanges in a global context, with an emphasis on developing the responsiveness, adaptability and creativity that have become of growing importance for individual success in the globalizing and changing world. 

The course introduces students to differences among leadership ideas and values across cultures, with a focus on Eastern ways of knowledge and understanding, and conveys the importance of understanding and navigating the expectations of a host country. This course will touch on ideas about entrepreneurialism, design, philosophy, business and communication norms, hierarchies, and family. Students will be presented with an academic understanding of leadership differences and be guided through workshops, excursions to organizations and activities to more deeply enable one’s own navigation of entrepreneurial and leadership concerns. Project work will take students out into the community to explore and gather information firsthand about host-culture organization and behavioral manifestation, allowing students to form a closer relationship to the host country during this study-abroad session. This course is designed to help develop any student looking to function positively in the globalizing and international world.

Introduction to Zen Calligraphy (Semester, Online) 3 Credits

Instuctor(s): Erdal Küçükyalçın, PhD

Shodo, or Japanese Calligraphy, with origins in the Tang Dynasty in China, was refined and elevated as an artform by Zen priests and warriors during the Tokugawa Period, incorporating into the artform philosophy of the time, which has since become pervasive in Japanese culture and a staple of Japanese thought. This course introduced students to the creative and philosophical practice of Japanese calligraphy (Shodo) as it pertains to the kanji expressions of Miyamoto Musashi’s influential thought in his tome The Book of Five Rings, a Zen classic of the Tokugawa Period.


Students will first learn about the history, emergence and relevance of the artform in historic and contemporary times. Then, students will practice Shodo, beginning with fundamental concepts, strokes, brush handling and theory, and learn about how calligraphy, as a practice, enables deeper understanding of core tenets of traditional Japanese philosophy. As part of the course, students will gain an understanding of the construction and meaning of core characters (kanji), as well as practice in this construction. This course will engage students in the interplay between art, self-fortification and Japanese philosophy. 

Migrant Experiences, Economy and Agency (Semester, Online) 3 credits

Instructor(s): Jennifer Norris

Migration, motivated by a variety of factors, willing and unwilling, has been a crucial part of the human condition since the dawn of time. With the decrease in nomadic populations, much of modern migration is fueled by the drive for economic opportunity, as well as human rights abuses and conditions of instability such as war. Issues concerning migrant populations and social responses to increased migration have recently gained standing in mainstream conversations globally in recent decades due to the upset of the Syrian, Rohingya and Central American migrant crises. This course will introduce students to keynote issues surrounding migration in the form of historical and modern analyses of developments and conditions. 

Special emphasis will be places on the innovative efforts of these groups, including artistic creations, economic innovation, diaspora development and means of cultural preservation. Students will gain an understanding of how these groups can be affected by political considerations, public perceptions and awareness, the work of non-governmental organizations (NGO’s), patterns established by migrant groups themselves, and national or international responses. An important part of the course will be an on-site visit to migrant-serving organizations with corresponding analyses. The course will strive to convey the complexity refugee and migrant issues through examining wide-ranging perspectives, historical texts and data to allow the students to draw their own conclusions surrounding the material.



Silk Roads: Past, Present and Future (Semester, Online) 3 credits

Instructor(s): Erdal Küçükyalçın, PhD; Jennifer Norris

The historic Silk Roads contributed immensely to the early development of world economic systems and cultural exchange between the east and west. An understanding of the important technological, cultural, philosophical and material transfers that occurred and the influence on future trade and cultural development enable students to better understand the foundations in international relationships today and the theories that germinated projects like the One Belt One Road Initiative. This course will examine the history and discovery of trade patterns, cultural interactions, religious transfer, artistic expression and political influence the historic Silk Road and Maritime Silk Road as well as the modern Belt and Road Initiatives. We will also examine relevant historic and contemporary theories such as the Heartland Theory and String of Pearls Theory that help people to understand the strategic importance of modern projects in terms of economic and political power. This course is offered virtually.

Thai History, Society and Culture (Winter, Thailand) 3 Credits

Instructor(s): Jennifer Norris

Thailand prides itself on an unbeatable and unique history and bright, welcoming and warm cultural character. This course will provide students an understanding of the historical and cultural evolution of Thailand, including major historic events that shaped the current state, differing life styles across the geographical expanse and economic landscape of the country. We will look closely at local customs, and traditions, and trace the symbolic history of common artistic expression, entwined often with religious thought in the country. Students will understand the nuanced relationship between governing bodies and the Thai royalty, and the unique modernization of the country that has been struggling to preserve its national heritage. 


Students will also take a close look and discuss modern issues that face local populations, social, economic and political. This course will serve as an overview of Thai culture and current life, and will extend to provide students some background in adjacent topics such as local histories, artforms and modern foreign policy considerations. No knowledge of the Thai language is necessary; the course is taught entirely in English.

Traditional Asian Martial Arts: Development, Culture and Practice (All locations) 3 Credits

Instructor(s): Erdal Küçükyalçın, PhD; Jennifer Norris

This course approaches the historic development of traditional Asian fighting arts, tracing the social, religious and political affiliations of martial arts across their respective territories that culminated in influences on modern practices. Western martial arts development will be held briefly in comparison. Modern contexts of martial arts attitudes and systems will be examined in each country. External and internal martial arts philosophies and forms will be examined with an eye to the historical context of their development and current practice. 

Cultural differences in martial arts practices will be examined through the lens of core styles and their founding texts where available, philosophies and training. Students will engage in hands-on learning in certain disciplines, by joining in local martial arts practices in the locations of their visits and hearing from guest speakers from the local and international martial arts communities. 

The course touches upon the spread, development and exchange of martial arts across Asia in history and into modern times, but the core focus will be in the host country of the study program. This course is currently offered in Japan during the Summer semester in Kyoto or in Winter session in Koh Samui, Thailand.

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