Osaki Kamijima, JapanOsaki Kamijima, Japan

COA’s hands-on, interdisciplinary, pragmatic approach to education has inspired political and thought leaders on the small island of Osaki Kamijima, Japan, to pursue development of a new college.

“The school, based on the educational model of the College of the Atlantic, is envisioned as a powerful force for the economic, cultural, and intellectual revitalization of the island, and for cultivation of alumni who could help Japan prosper as a more just, sustainable, and ecologically-minded society,” COA President Darron Collins said.

“Whatever comes out of the trip, it is certainly confirmation and external verification that we’re doing something right and the world is watching” - COA President Darron Collins ’92.

Collins will be in Japan from January 16-21, and will meet with the Mayor of Osaki Kamikima, the Governor of Hiroshima, ASHOKA U representatives from Japan, and with the former Vice Minister of Education while he is there.

Collins will also meet extensively with Hiromi Nagao, who is the former president of Hiroshima Jogakuin University, an all-women’s college in the prefecture of Hiroshima, and is spearheading the drive to build a new school. 

Nagao, who is a thought leader in the world of educational reform in Japan, has been inspired by the COA model since first meeting Collins and professor Jay Friedlander at an Ashoka U Exchange at Brown University in 2014. 

COA president Darron Collins ’92“Hiromi came away from that Brown University meeting, attended by thousands from the 33 U.S.-based Ashoka U Change Maker campuses, inspired by the College of the Atlantic,” Collins said.  

In August 2015, Friedlander traveled to Japan to spend more time with Nagao and introduce her and her colleagues more fully to what COA was all about, Collins said. The following fall, she proposed the new school.

The trip is being paid for by the Mayor of Osaki Kamijima, and, according to Collins, the goals of the meetings are wide open. Possibilities include a sister school partner, the development of a wider partnership circle throughout Asia, or just the presence of an interesting alternative college in Japan based on the COA model.

“Whatever comes out of  the trip, it is certainly confirmation and external verification that we’re doing something right and the world is watching,” Collins said.