Building active mindsets among the local youth for rural sustainability

The new role of local schools in an aging and shrinking society

Authored by: Shogo Kudo , Ryu Yanagisawa

Routledge International Handbook of Schools and Schooling in Asia

Print publication date:  May  2018
Online publication date:  May  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138908499
eBook ISBN: 9781315694382
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter argues that a new role of local schools in rural areas is to provide a form of education that can build active mindsets among the youth population for rural sustainability. Japan is known for its rapid population decline and aging. Rural areas in particular are experiencing continuous declines in social and economic activities, and some rural communities are becoming marginalized. Subsequently, local schools are experiencing structural mergers and closures. Under such circumstances, schools in rural areas are facing a critical moment to reexamine their roles in their local societies. This chapter first elaborates on some of the common challenges of rural declines triggered by aging and depopulation. Followed by the illustration of the school-closure trend, the chapter presents the case of Gojome Social Lab (GSL), which is a new education project inspired by the Jimotogaku (“local studies”) approach. In GSL, two student groups were formed to study (a) people’s perceptions toward energy and (b) cultural diversity between the central and mountainous areas of the town through comparing traditional events. GSL created stronger ties between the school and local residents and also encouraged active mindsets among the local youth to actively participate in rural sustainability discussions.

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