Global Student Experience in Disaster Preparedness & Response
Faculty-Led Study Abroad Program Proposal Development
University of Washington – Tohoku University Partnership


Background: Robust emergency preparedness and response (EPR) systems are essential to preventing and mitigating the dire human health consequences associated with natural disasters, which are increasing in frequency and severity around the world. Japan and the Pacific Northwestern United States both are prone to earthquakes and tsunamis, but the extent to which these countries can and have invested in EPR varies depending on national resources and priorities. We believe building collaborative networks between otherwise heterogeneous countries with similar natural disaster risks holds great potential for improving EPR infrastructure, research, and education.

The Academic Open Space between the University of Washington (UW) and Tohoku University (TU) in Sendai, Japan is an agreement between our two leading research institutions intended to foster collaboration and academic exchanges. TU is home to the International Research Institute of Disaster Science (, a leading multi-disciplinary center focused on applied research in disasters and disaster mitigation. In collaboration with TU, faculty in the UW School of Public Health (SPH) and the Center for Global Health Nursing in the School of Nursing (SON) currently are developing a proposal for a faculty-led study abroad program to Japan focused on EPR, which will be launched in 2020. The study abroad program likely will be 4-6 weeks long and will be designed for both undergraduate and graduate students. As a pilot experience and to gather information to shape the study abroad proposal, 2-3 faculty from SPH and/or SON will travel to Sendai for 11 days during the summer of 2019 to attend the Association of Pacific Rim Universities (APRU) and Association of East Asian Research Universities (AEARU) Multi-Hazards Summer School, to learn more about EPR and the community health consequences of natural disasters in Japan, and to discuss the study abroad program with collaborators at TU. Funding is available for two graduate students (one from SPH and one from SON) to accompany faculty on this trip.

Trip Details and Student Expectations:

  • Destination: Sendai, Japan and surrounding area
  • Travel dates: July 20th-30th, 2019
  • APRU-AEARU Multi-Hazards Summer School dates: July 22th-25th, 2019
    • Information on the Summer School is provided in the email attachment

In addition to the APRU-AEARU Multi-Hazards Summer School, students will participate in site visits to e.g. local public health agencies, community-based organizations, schools, and/or healthcare facilities as arranged, and will assist UW and Tohoku faculty in conceptualizing the study abroad curricula based on this summer 2019 travel experience. In addition, students may be called upon to provide additional input and feedback during the rest of the summer/early fall of 2019 as the study abroad program proposal is developed. Finally, students will be expected to provide a debrief presentation on what they learned when they return (specific details to be identified). The objectives of the 2019 summer trip are to:

  • Provide a global immersive experience to students so they may learn about the intersection of human and environmental health through disaster management
  • Facilitate and support global exchange among an interprofessional group of students, scholars, and community stakeholders invested in EPR
  • Co-develop an authentic and meaningful study abroad program (to be launched in 2020) and program evaluation plan with students and faculty across both UW and TU
  • Facilitate intentional dialogue on research collaborations focused on population, community, and family research in disaster management

Application Process: SPH and SON students with a 3.0 GPA minimum are invited to apply. Please email your CV/resume and a 500-word personal statement describing your interest in and what you will contribute to the experience to by 7AM on Monday, May 20th, 2019. Interviews will be scheduled no later than Friday, May 24th, 2019, and final student selection will be completed by Friday, May 31st, 2019.