Oberlin News Center

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Oberlin News Center

Taiyo Scanlon-Kimura ’15 will study regional food systems as drivers of local economies in Japan. 
Photo By Jennifer Manna

Taiyo Scanlon-Kimura ’15, a politics and East Asian studies double-major, has been awarded a 10-month Fulbright research grant to Japan. In Japan, Scanlon-Kimura will study regional food systems as drivers of local economies, surveying farmers and producers in food supply chains, to make policy recommendations that help foster sustainable rural communities.

“Demographic decline, stagnant economic growth, and hyper-urbanization are the defining challenges of contemporary Japan,” Scanlon-Kimura says. “Using food production as a lens, I will examine the intersection of all three issues and the role public policy can play in mitigating them. Tackling these issues is important to the well-being of millions of people.”

Scanlon-Kimura says his heritage, as well as his desire to teach comparative politics at the university level, are the reasons he applied for the grant. “As a half-Japanese American, I have always seen myself as a bridge between the United States and Japan. I applied to leverage my deep personal connection to U.S.-Japan relations into my future career.”

Scanlon-Kimura says five out-of-class experiences he’s had while an Oberlin student sparked his interest in this particular research topic and helped prepare him for the work ahead. These include:

  • a sophomore winter term in which he lived and worked with refugees in francophone Belgium;
  • a research paper based on firsthand interactions with aforementioned refugees affected by the political asylum system, which he presented at the Walsh University All Politics is Local Conference;
  • a junior winter term project—Sustainability and Leadership or SustainLab—that examined the urban-rural transect of Northeastern Ohio to understand sustainable systems;
  • a semester abroad in Osaka, Japan; and
  • an internship at the Reischauer Center for East Asian Studies in Washington, D.C., in which he researched Japanese economic reform policy and elucidated the potential of agriculture as a main sector for economic revitalization.

Scanlon-Kimura will begin his research in Japan in September following a summer internship with the Institute for the Recruitment of Teachers (IRT).