From Policy Projects to Collaborative Learning

As the MAAPPS program has evolved over the past decade, we have been shaping it more and more toward applied learning and professional development – largely in response to student requests along these lines.

The first step in this direction was the experimental offering of Asia Pacific Policy Projects that would challenge participants to address a single, tightly circumscribed policy challenge in the course of a term. Past projects have focused on mining regulation in Mongolia, history education in Cambodia and selective adaption of international norms in trade regimes.

Some courses have also adopted more interactive formats for course discussions, such as staged debates, scenario discussions, case studies.

The present plans for our two-week collaboration with Hitotsubashi University takes this notion one step further by

  1. selecting a topic that is current, pressing and accessible to students: trade negotiations between Canada and Japan
  2. transplanting the course to the locus of policy-making: in this case, Tokyo,
  3. collaborating with a local institution to benefit from a multi-perspective approach to a given policy challenge,
  4. relying on the academic literature and experts on trade agreements in the preparation for discussions,
  5. involving students deeply in the planning of the course,
  6. adding as many meetings with stakeholders in this policy issue to the learning activity: the Canadian and Japanese governments, businesses, etc., and
  7. introducing a formal simulation of trade negotiations into the activities (largely at the initiative of the participants)

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