Comparative Culture

Kentaro AZUMA Associate Professor

Department: Institute of Liberal Arts & Sciences

Class Time: 2014 Fall Friday
Recommended for: Liberal Arts students

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Course Objectives and Aims

What kind of image do you have of the Philippines? Is it an image of "crime" or "poverty" like what you see on the international news? Or is it an image of the eternal summer and beach resorts that are the symbol of "southern climes" and "paradise"? On the other hand, because of the history of the war, development, assistance and international marriage, on both a national and personal level, there is a deep relationship between Japan and the Philippines. The multi-faceted Philippines are linked to Japan in many ways. In the class, we will observe the Philippines as a just one of the Southeast Asian island countries, and from viewpoints of diversity and Japanese relations.

Key Features

  1. As this Introduction to Humanities course is designed for students in the Humanities, though each of my students come from differing backgrounds, my primary goal is "ease of understanding" that awakens interest. I also attempted to satisfy the need for "depth" in students who were interested in multicultural understanding and area studies.
  2. To create "ease of understanding," while concentrating on concrete topics from our specific region of the Philippines like "poverty and development,""religion,""sightseeing" and "Relations with Japan," I used many pictures, animations, film clips, and documentaries and even shared my own experiences while living in the Philippines.
  3. To create "depth," I pushed each student to react to their own chosen topic, such as the difficulty of understanding different cultures and people, the economic gap between developed and developing countries, living with strongly held beliefs and religion, the various problems behind the backdrop of leisure and pleasure of tourism, the responsibility for actions of the Japanese military during World War II.
  4. To check students' "ease of understanding" and "depth," each class I distributed a "reaction sheet" which asked them to respond with their (a) impressions and memories from the previous class, (b) questions and comments, and (c) answers to that week's quiz. I looked over each response, checking for level of comprehension, impressions, and unclear points, but I also introduced a few of the points written in the "reaction sheets" in the beginning of the subsequent class to excite even more interest.

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Course Requirements

Students who are interested in multicultural understanding and area studies.

Course Contents

The course will be divided into the following five topics which will be further subdivided and studied via video footage.

  1. Do you know the Philippines?

    Overview of the Philippines: History, language, race, religion, society, etc.

  2. Manila: City of Starbucks and slums side-by-side

    Manila, the capital city's poverty and development: the good and bad.

  3. Roxas – a provincial town in the Philippines –

    Scenes of daily life and Catholic ritual in Roxas

  4. Boracay's white sand beaches: the other side of the coin

    About sightseeing, environment and daily life on Boracay Island, one of the world's best beaches.

  5. Japan and the Philippines

    Japanese-Philippines relations, focusing on development assistance and international marriage.


Not specified. Handouts will be distributed.


It is not important to learn "accurate" knowledge about the Philippines (I wonder if "accurate" knowledge exists in the first place.). Although we do not have much time, I want the students to think with me about the fun, the difficulty and the complexity of multiculturalism, while incorporating video footage of the Philippines and my own experiences living in the Philippines.


Grades will be based on reaction papers and the final report.

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Page last updated November 24, 2014

The class contents were most recently updated on the date indicated. Please be aware that there may be some changes between the most recent year and the current page.

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