Teaching Gender Equality and Diversity in Norway and Japan (UTFORSK)

Teaching Gender Equality and Diversity in Norway and Japan (UTFORSK)

side by side images of a rock stack formation in Norway and a temple in Japan

About the project

About the project

Teaching Gender Equality and Diversity in Norway and Japan (UTFORSK; 2021-2025) is a four-year teaching and research collaboration between between the Center for Gender Research (CGR) at the Department of Interdisciplinary Studies of Culture at NTNU (Trondheim, Norway) and the Institute for Gender Studies (IGS) at Ochanomizu University (Tokyo, Japan) in the fields of gender equality and diversity.

UTFORSK’s primary purpose is to develop new pedagogical strategies to strengthen the quality of gender studies education at both the Center for Gender Research at NTNU and our partner institution the Institutes for Gender Studies and Global Leadership at Ochanomizu University (Japan). The project builds on a pre-existing strategic collaboration between the two institutions made possible by an ongoing INTPART project named NJ_BREGED (RCN, 2019-2022), and current research on transformative learning in Gender Studies (NTNU, 2019-). 

Through international exchange and collaboration, joint curricular activities, the promotion of young researchers’ work and the development of disciplinary-specific teaching practices, the project will provide students and staff with a quality-enhanced and stimulating international learning environment at all levels. In doing so, UTFORSK seeks to establish a clear focus on the role of transformative teaching and learning in the education of students and young researchers. 

The project is funded by the Norwegian Agency for International Cooperation and Quality Enhancement in Higher Education (DIKU).

Activities and Results: Previous Events

Activities and Results: Previous Events

JSPS logo
Photo credit: Unsplash, Vidar Nordli-Mathisen & Su San Lee

We are pleased to announce that Prof. Jennifer Branlat has joined the board of Alumni Club in Norway (ACN) for Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS). The JSPS Alumni Club in Norway (ACN) was established in 2019 by the initiative of former JSPS fellows, and the club has 89 members. The ACN organizes symposia on various themes, Norway-Japan Academic Network, the annual General Assembly and Board Meetings. It also works in close collaboration with Innovation Norway in Japan, The Norwegian Embassy in Japan, HK-Dir and Research Council in Norway on a webinar series. 

JSPS Board
Photo credit: Alumni Club Norway (JSPS)

The Asianet Conference took place at NTNU on 16-17 June 2022. Prof. Priscilla Ringrose and Prof. Jennifer Branlat participated in Asianet Conference with their paper, 'Same but different? Transnational research and educational collaboration in
gender equality and diversity education'. The conference's theme was 'Asia and Fragmented Globalisations'.

In their paper, Prof. Ringrose and Prof. Branlat reflected on the two ongoing projects NTNU's Centre for Gender Research has with Ochanomizu University, namely UTFORSK and INTPART. They discussed their experiences thus far with building research on gender equality and diversity education from a cross-national comparative perspective between Norway and Japan. They share what factors have presented challenges, and what strategies have proven successful. Webpage with further information. 

Organized by the Directorate for Higher Education and Skills / Direktoratet for høyere utdanning og kompetanse; held at Høgskolen på Vestlandet (HVL) on 14-15 June 2022.

The Panorama Seminar aimed to address the opportunities and challenges associated with academic cooperation with Brazil, Canada, China, India, Japan, Russia, South Africa, South Korea and the USA.

In activities with Panorama countries, research collaboration has traditionally been more extensive than education collaborations. Indeed, the underlying rational for the Panorama Strategy has been that education collaboration and student involvement can be connected to existing research collaboration, leading to a “students follow researchers” approach. This session asked: How can established research collaborations and networks be used to develop education collaboration? What are the important factors for the success of such an endeavor?

In the session “From Research to Education Cooperation,” Prof. Jennifer Branlat spoke on behalf of the UTFORSK project team to discuss the development of UTFORSK. She shared theexperience of the Center for Gender Research in building an education collaboration from an existing research collaboration with Ochanomizu University in Tokyo.

Read more here (in Norwegian).

HKDir logo

NTNU and Ochanomizu students came together in a digital seminar to present on a topic of choice, namely 'reproduction and family life' in each context. The seminar was a great start to the UTFORSK collaboration!

NTNU students focussed mainly parental benefits unique to the Nordic welfare system, falling fertility rates in Norway, and the ways in which they are framed as a ‘problem’ by conservative politicians. They addressed the political question of whether families should have more children to keep the welfare state going or fewer children to reduce the environmental consequences. They also discussed egg donation, which is a relatively recent phenomenon in Norway, and the state's promises to make ARTs more gender equal.

The Ochanomizu students discussed 'anonymous births' in Japan. Being able to give birth anonymously in Japan is controversial and considered to be a solution to helping young (sometimes underage) mothers give birth without their families knowing. Normally, such mothers want to give their children up for adoption. If there are no measures in place, young women may either harm the baby, themselves or both, as they try to find a solution themselves. With input from the NTNU students, they also discussed why there is not an equivalent framework in Norway.

UTFORSK's announcement in the KULT department's Ukebladet
UTFORSK's announcement in the KULT department's Ukebladet

For further reading on 'anonymous births' in Japan, here are two English news articles on the topic:

Project participants

Project participants

Masako Ishii-Kuntz Trustee and Vice President, Ochanomizu University

Makoto Kobayashi Director of the Institute for Global Leadership, Ochanomizu University

Priscilla Ringrose Professor, NTNU

Siri Ø. Sørensen Professor and Head of Center for Gender Research, NTNU

Derek Matsuda Lecturer, Ochanomizu University

Rie Okamura Project Lecturer, the Institute for Global Leadership, Ochanomizu University

Guro K. Kristensen Professor and Head of Department, NTNU

Kumi Yoshihara Project Research Fellow, Ochanomizu University

Lotte Sæther Student Advisor, NTNU

Resources for students

Student Resources for Studies in Japan

Click on the title above to access a collection of resources on Japan living, culture, social issues, and practical advice.

Materials included are books, articles, videos/ series/ films, Japanese language resources, blogs, podcasts, and travel guides.