Study Abroad

Japan Early Fall 2018

Sustainable Energy in Japan, Early Fall 2018

2017 group in HiroshimaUWB students in radiation lab at Ehime University  


Program Dates: August 20 - September 20, 2018, including 9 days of classes at UW Bothell and approximately two weeks at Ehime University in Matsuyama, Japan

Program Director: Steve Collins, Mechanical Engineering, School of STEM,; Hiroshi Miyamoto, Japanese instructor, 

Academic Credits: 5 credits of B ME 493


  • $3,200 program fee, which covers: 5 Autumn Quarter credits; local transportation, housing, most lunches and several group dinners, cultural activities in Japan;
  • $350 study abroad administrative fee;
  • ~$1,400 airfare;
  • $25 travel insurance;
  • Some meals in Japan;
  • Personal expenses at UW Bothell and while abroad.

***The program is eligible for financial aid and scholarships may be available to help offset the costs***

Course Details

This early fall course explores the challenges and opportunities of deploying new energy technologies that are economically, socially, and environmentally sustainable.  The geographic focus is Japan, and specifically the island of Shikoku, though comparison will also be made to the US and Pacific Northwest.

Japan is an especially interesting case because of the sudden loss of nearly a third of the country’s electric power generating capacity when all nuclear plants were shut down after the meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant in March 2011.  Since then, electric utilities, regulators, and policymakers have scrambled to develop wind, solar, geothermal, ocean, and other alternative sources of energy, while also restructuring the electric power industry around a new regulatory framework that will increase competition and strengthen accountability.  These developments have occurred in a fraught political environment, where powerful energy firms, long shielded by a protective layer of politicians and bureaucrats, face an increasingly skeptical public and local communities determined to have a say in the energy choices made on their behalf.

The course begins with nine days of study at UW Bothell.  Students will learn about electric power generation, transmission, and distribution from technical, economic, and regulatory perspectives; history of the grid as a regulated sector; integration of renewable and intermittent sources; and trends toward distributed generation.  A visit to a nearby power plant is planned.  Once in Japan, students will learn about the evolution of Japan’s electric power system, the controversies swirling around nuclear power, and deregulation of electricity markets.  While in Japan, students will have the opportunity to visit power plants, meet with citizens groups and stakeholders active in shaping energy policy, and learn from Japanese energy experts in academia, government, and industry.

Cultural activities while in Japan include a traditional tea ceremony, weekend homestay with a local family, and a one-day trip to Hiroshima.

Learning Goals

At the end of the course, students will be able to:

  • Analyze and describe the generation, transmission, and distribution of electric power.
  • Describe the organization and operation of electricity markets.
  • Explain the role of the regulated electric utility and understand the economic and political constraints under which it operates.
  • Describe and propose solutions for the problems of integrating renewable and non-renewable energy resources into an electric power system that is sustainable, reliable, and resilient.
  • Identify the key stakeholders in the regulation and management of energy systems in Japan, describe the process in which stakeholder interests are translated into energy policy, and identify and explain differences with the US.
  • Appreciate, and engage, the voice of Japanese citizens and citizen movements in pressing for a more accountable, ethical, and sustainable energy system.

Information for Applicants

Pre-requisites: Applicants must be currently enrolled UW students with a minimum GPA of 2.75, and should be prepared for an intensive interdisciplinary experience ranging across engineering, economics, politics as they pertain to energy and energy policy, and Japanese culture. Completion of second quarter calculus-based general physics (B PHYS 122) is strongly preferred.

Derek and Jon arriving to class on bikesStudents should be prepared for a moderate level of physical activity, especially walking and bicycling, while in Japan.

Knowledge of Japanese is not required.

Application Process: The online application requires a resume, unofficial transcript and a personal statement describing your interest and qualifications for the program. The essay should demonstrate a commitment to learning across disciplines, curiosity about different cultures, and interest in conversing with peers here and in Japan about our collective energy future.

The online application is now closed. 


What's the program like?

Check out blogs from UWB Study Abroad Ambassadors who participated in the program in previous years:

Derek Flett, 2017

Urooj Qureshi, 2015

Nguyen Tong, 2013


Program Support

Natalia Dyba, Director of Global Initiatives


Study Abroad Advising

Yenifher Mendoza and Elaine Montes, Peer Study Abroad Advisor


Student Success Center UW1-160

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