Kansas University officials returned from Japan excited about the potential for cooperation with Kanagawa University in Hiratsuka, one of Lawrence's sister cities.
Del Shankel, executive vice chancellor, and five deans, who returned Monday, said the weeklong trip should strengthen faculty and student exchanges and cooperative research.
"Personal contacts between our deans and deans at their university will lead to many more academic exchanges, some joint research," Shankel said.
Shankel said it is critical for the United States and KU to improve relations with Japan.
"TIES WITH a Japanese university are absolutely critical to our goals of internationalizing and globalizing our curriculum," he said.
The KU delegation met with officials on Kanagawa University's Hiratsuka and Yokohama campuses. The delegation also visited KU alumni in Tokyo and Hiratsuka city officials.
Lawrence and Hiratsuka have been sister cities since 1990. A delegation from Hiratsuka is scheduled to travel to Lawrence this month.
"They were productive meetings. We were on the move constantly," said George Woodyard, dean of international studies and programs.
In February, a group of students from Kanagawa studied English and U.S. culture in Kansas. KU students studied business in Hiratsuka last summer. The studies will be repeated next year, said Joseph Bauman, business dean.
"THERE IS a strong desire in Japan to make this work," he said.
Bauman said part of his assignment while in Japan was to work on arrangements for a faculty exchange. Plans call for a Japanese professor to teach a business course at KU in the spring. Next fall, a KU professor is expected to teach in Japan, he said.
Ed Meyen, education dean, said the School of Education plans to seek a Fulbright grant to support a trip next year to Japan by a contingent of KU education faculty.
Such a trip would spark cooperative research efforts and allow KU education faculty to become acquainted with the Japanese school system, Meyen said.
He said because there's so much emphasis in this country on education reform, it would benefit KU faculty to better understand the Japanese system, which often is compared to the U.S. model.
"IT ALSO will help broaden efforts to address multicultural concerns by getting our teachers and students more of a global perspective," Meyen said.
James Muyskens, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, said he believes joint research can occur in the biological sciences. However, the Japanese display broader interests.
"There is strong interest in learning more about U.S. institutions, and not just coming here to learn English, but to study social sciences," Muyskens said.
"I think there are lots of possibilities, but we have to keep working at them to truly develop them into something," he said.
Muyskens met with a representative of the National Science Foundation in Japan who encouraged KU to foster ties with Japan.
WOODYARD DID some preliminary work to identify Japanese educational foundations that might contribute to KU-Kanagawa academic exchanges.
"We're looking for external funding for different programs. This was a good opportunity to explore those avenues," he said.
Carl Locke, engineering dean, said some KU schools are further along in plans for student and faculty exchanges than engineering.
"I don't expect to see a large (engineering) group going back and forth next year, but in the following year it is possible at the faculty level," Locke said.
Locke said he concentrated on gathering information about Kanagawa University's engineering programs to find areas of mutual interest with KU.
He said promising areas of joint engineering research are in the development of remote sensing, a type of satellite technology, and buildings resistant to earthquakes.