AFCLC, Air Force Culture and Language Center, Air Force's Global Classroom

Enhancing Culture Education through Immersive Learning

  • Published
  • By Mikala McCurry, AFCLC Outreach Team
  • AFCLC

Both Air War College and the Air Force Culture and Language Center have regional subject matter experts on faculty to educate total force Airmen on current geopolitical landscapes. To further ensure that faculty members have the highest level of understanding to help Airmen become integrated by design with allies and partners, members of the AWC and AFCLC faculty recently visited several sites in East Asia, including the Japan Air Command and Staff College at Megura Air Base in Tokyo. 

Dr. Jessica Jordan, AFCLC’s Assistant Professor of Regional and Cultural Studies-Asia, was among the faculty members who attended this professional development trip including visits to various political, military, cultural, and economic sites in Japan and Korea.

"Our main goal was to help our faculty gain a better understanding of great power competition across the region in part by hearing U.S., Japanese, and Korean in-country perspectives on the big issues in these countries and theater,” Dr. Jordan said. “The AWC Department of International Security Studies is in the process of developing new courses that devote quite a bit of time to this region, but many faculty don't have deep familiarity with this area of the world. This trip to Japan and Korea, for one week each, was intended to help quickly bring this group up to speed on important themes as we are refining pedagogical approaches for this academic year.” 

As a fluent Japanese-speaking subject matter expert among Air University faculty, Dr. Jordan played a vital role in facilitating communication between the JASDF faculty members and the AWC faculty members during the Command and Staff College visit, as well as at other sites visited during the trip.

“I helped plan the itinerary and interpreted both language and content while in Tokyo. By content, I am referring to the historical and cultural/social contexts for sites and groups we were visiting,” Dr. Jordan explained. “My participation enhanced discussions about Japan, Northeast Asia, and the entire region toward arriving at improved teaching goals and themes.” 

While Dr. Jordan routinely educates Airmen about the culture of Japan and the Indo-Pacific region, she does not utilize her language skills daily. This trip allowed her to not only enhance her knowledge of the current events happening in the region, but to also revitalize her Japanese language skillset.

“The experience of speaking in Japanese, and being in Japan, reminded me of an identity of mine that has been dormant for a while,” she said. “I also learned from briefings some things about the current state of Japan's evolving responses to the regional threat environment, and I made new contacts among military and other professionals.”

Dr. Jordan and the AWC faculty members witnessed firsthand a shifting culture emerging in the Indo-Pacific in 2022. Several global occurrences, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, changed the landscape in Japan and other Indo-pacific countries.

“Being able to tell students what Japan is like in 2022, in the era of COVID, is important. Nobody had traveled from the War College to Japan since 2019 because of pandemic-related border closures, so having a current sense of the conditions in-country, including the overall mood of Japanese people about the challenges they face, will be helpful when teaching,” Dr. Jordan explained. “We had dinner with Japanese officers who are alumni of AWC and ACSC, for example, when we engaged in a meaningful dialogue with them about current issues. Specific information about current military capabilities and policy direction is important, but I value having learned how people think about these things--their opinions about the state of things. Current policy orientation can be studied from afar to good effect.”

AWC faculty members returned from this trip with enhanced cultural perspectives on the Indo-Pacific region to share with their students in upcoming courses. The upcoming RSS courses for AWC in-residence students will include various two-week travel segments to different sub-regions of INDOPACOM, including one that will travel the same Japan and Korea itinerary travelled by DEI faculty last September.

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