KSS2023 セミナー



From Sappho to Bashō: a Comparative View of Western and Japanese Poetics

When we talk about poetry, we tend to imagine emotional, often eccentric individuals sharing their innermost feelings with the world around them. In what measure, however, is the world surrounding the poets that is responsible for their feelings and creative output? What would have happened if Shakespeare had been born in Japan, or Bashō in England? The purpose of this seminar is to highlight the relationship between poetry and human experience, and how culture, politics and the economy can shape what poets write, and how we read their work. Participants will be exposed to a historical overview of Western poetry, from semitic texts to popular music, and will be expected to contribute with poetic expressions within their own tradition and background for a comprehensive comparative analysis.





An Interdisciplinary Approach to the Belt and Road Initiative

The Belt and Road Initiative, or BRI, was launched by President Xi Jinping in 2013 aan imitation of the Silk Road that had connected many ancient civilizations together during the Han Dynasty in China. By spearheading this initiative, President Xi hoped to bring economic prosperity throughout the continent through increasing trade opportunities. However, more than economically, the modern-day BRI impacts countries tremendously, ranging from climate change and technological advancements to political, cultural, and social impacts. By conducting this seminar, I hope to explore the multifaceted implications of the BRI, but also how it impacts specific countries in different ways. Additionally, as our international politics become increasingly tense, from the Russia Ukraine War to U.S.-China relations over Taiwan, this seminar will aim to examine how the BRI could potentially increase Chinese power and influence in the international stage.




Neuroscience of Learning

This course offers students the opportunity to develop a foundational understanding of neuroscience and discover how emerging research in the field can enhance our learning processes. Divided into five parts, each section focuses on a key question: “Neuroscience in the Wild” explores how the human mind has influenced and shaped the world; “Memory and Habits” delves into how learning takes place; “Goals and Motivation” examines ways to learn more effectively; “Our Lifestyle and the Brain” investigates how to improve brain health; and “Past, Present, Future” looks at what’s next in neuroscience. Students will have the chance to share their previous experiences in learning and knowledge from other fields and connect them with the research presented in the course.



Who am I?

Have you ever thought “how did I become who I am?” Our identities are incredibly complex – it is the production of a plethora factors. Through a psychological and sociological lens, I will attempt to answer the question of “Who I am?”. Together, we will investigate several schools of thought and tackle the grand idea of nature vs. nurture. Students will be encouraged to use and build upon their understanding of themselves, their cultural backgrounds, and social/genetic factors to explore their own identity. I will be introducing several streams of psychology (some including lifespan, anatomical, mental health and well-being, and social psychology) to provide students with these tools. Students will also learn to appreciate their differences and embrace what makes each of them unique. The goal of this seminar is for students to have an introduction to psychology and to begin to understand the basic structures that form who they are.



Mathematics: A Historical Contextualization and Humanization of the Subject

Through this course I’d like to present mathematics from an alternative perspective, trying to cover more of the history behind it with regards to specific figures and methods. Math is often made to be an intimidating, overly demanding subject. In this course I hope to dispel that image and make the subject more approachable and human, rather than foreign. In that sense, I will cover specific mathematical concepts, their discovery, and the people behind them as well as their approachability, in order to make mathematics more digestible and enjoyable for those who are already thoroughly immersed in it and those who find it to be overwhelming.



2019: In the Face of Economic Downturn

 Have we become “poorer” after 2019? After the COVID-19 outbreak, most countries experienced prolonged economic stagnation due to the less robust pace of economic activity. Recessions and severe budget deficits were typical of the problems that followed the outbreak. Concern over the economy was no doubt highlighted by the government body. In this seminar, we will be looking at policies implemented by countries to begin their recovery. Students will learn the basic economics concepts and explore the responses of policymakers in light of their own country’s economic situation. Most importantly, what are the insights behind the different responses? To answer this question, we need to determine how culture, government, and economic structures influence policymakers’ decision-making processes. By learning the complexities and uncertainties of how the economic system works in real life, students will finally gain a deeper understanding of how to determine the best fit for a specific economic structure.



Disabilities & Ableism in Education

Have you ever taken a moment to reflect on your own identities? How about your physical ability identity? Similar to our height, weight, and age, our physical abilities change over a lifetime, including our health, which also means a change in our perceptions of ourselves. Individuals with disabilities often struggle to convey a positive identity, to communicate that their physical ability is only one of their many identities. Unfortunately, this is amplified by the ableist contexts of schools and continues to stay embedded within society. In this seminar, we will aim to recognize disability culture and everyday ableism in our institutions, and to develop and refine our understanding to better examine what we can do to counter ableism in our lives and careers. By recognizing and reflecting on our own experiences, we will be able to become more inclusive to individuals who are often casted out for simply being themselves.


Why AI?

AI (Artificial Intelligence) is one of the most revolutionary ideas humanity has explored. Voice assistants, image generation, and large language models like ChatGPT have opened the doors to opportunities previously thought to be impossible. How do these systems work? And how can we use them wisely? This seminar will explore the fundamental concepts behind artificial intelligence: neural networks, backpropagation, loss functions, and optimization. We may then build our own models with Google’s Teachable Machine. ChatGPT will be used as a case study in exploring the social, ethical, and economic implications of AI, including issues related to privacy, bias, automation, and transparency. I will share my own AI research experience from interning in the Sekeh AI lab at the University of Maine. We will finish by discussing how we can best use these tools today, and what the future possibilities of AI (utopian or dystopian) mean for us as humans.



The Third Agricultural Revolution

Approximately 10,000 years ago, the first agricultural revolution put an end to the hunter-gatherer lifestyle, creating the possibility for civilizations to emerge. Three hundred years ago, industrialization gave way to the second agricultural revolution which allowed cities to expand even further. Today, rapidly increasing global food demands test the limits of the Earth’s ecological capacity as well as our current mode of agriculture. Are we on the verge of another agricultural revolution? In this seminar, students will explore how civilizations adapt to changing conditions through an agricultural lens. We will discuss issues within modern day agriculture and their relationship to society. The class will go into depth on how sustainability in agriculture will be achieved and what level of society these changes will stem from. Through examining these topics, students will learn how something so basic as farming can have a far-reaching impact on the broader world.


Aviation Ground School

If you’ve ever dreamed of piloting a commercial airliner or simply want to gain a deeper understanding of the mechanics of flight, then “Aviation Ground School” may be the course for you. This seminar aims to provide a solid foundation in the basics of aviation, starting with the physics that make flight possible. Through this seminar, you’ll learn about the four fundamental forces of flight and also explore topics like navigation, weather patterns, and flight planning, gaining a deeper understanding of the intricacies involved in operating a plane. But “Aviation Ground School” is more than just a theoretical exploration of aviation. It’s also a practical guide for those who want to take the first steps towards becoming a commercial pilot. This seminar will give a road map to gain the necessary flight experience and earn a commercial pilot’s license. In addition to the technical aspects of aviation, “Aviation Ground School” also tackles some of the ethical questions surrounding air travel. So if you’re ready to take your first steps towards a career in aviation or simply want to learn more about this fascinating field, “Aviation Ground School” may be the course for you.




East Meets West: History of Healing in Japan and the World

What happened when one got sick in ancient Japan and the rest of the world? What types of medicines did people use? How did physicians think about diseases, bodies and healing? What did race, sex and gender mean from a medical perspective? And how did religion and medicine interact throughout this period? In this seminar, we will take a journey through the history of Japanese and global medicine from antiquity to the modern period. Throughout these centuries, we will trace how human bodies were understood, how diseases were diagnosed and treated, how physicians and other medical practitioners learned, were certified and practiced. We will also consider how medicine contributed to concepts of race, sex, gender and human difference, what role medicine played in transwar imperialism and colonialism; and how religions like Shintoism affected or influenced medical knowledge and practice. Thinking comparatively, we will trace major developments and trends in Japanese medical thought and practice and how they resonated across different regions around the world.


Are you a good person? Introduction to Ethics

Have you ever stopped to wonder if you’re a good person? Maybe you know you’re a good person, but do you always do the right thing? Imagine for a moment a situation in which you must torture an innocent person to save hundreds of lives. What would you do? How do we go about determining what is right, and why is it important to do the right thing in the first place?

In this course, we will first briefly familiarize ourselves with ethical theories such as cultural relativism, ethical relativism, utilitarianism, deontology, and virtue ethics (don’t worry if you’ve never heard of these before!). We will then apply these theories to a variety of modern issues, discussing the ethics behind consent, conformity, monogamy, drug legalization, and more. Come ready to challenge your pre-existing beliefs and learn how to develop a philosophical argument!