Embargo Period


Degree Name

MA in International Education

First Advisor

Linda Gobbo

Second Advisor

Jeff Unsicker


Recent trends in study abroad have seen a positive push for expanding diversity in student numbers; however, that push has generally not been targeted towards students with learning differences and disabilities (MIUSA, 2017). Though not exclusively tailored to participants with disabilities, The Japan: Universal Design and Innovation program is a summer program that builds participants’ knowledge, skills, and awareness in the topics of disability, access, and inclusion through the curricular/pedagogical methods of Experiential Learning and Universal Design. It takes place in Tokyo and Shizuoka Prefecture in Japan over the course of one month. It aims to challenge the concept of disability through the Critical Disability Theory, shifting participants’ perception of the term “disability” to more realistically mean a “difference” in ability. Since everyone has different abilities and learning styles, this is a linguistic shift that reflects the true, universal nature of ability. This linguistic shift can serve to create a society that is more empathetic and inclusive, and less discriminatory and judgmental.

On program, participants will engage in site visits, cross-cultural peer exchange, workshops, dialogue, reflection, and various other experiential activities to investigate and analyze Japan’s progressive policy efforts in adopting Universal Design for the transformation of their society into one that is barrier-free for increased and equitable access for all. With their newly gained knowledge, skills, and awareness, it is the program’s intention for participants to return to their communities and become advocates for social change.


East Asian Languages and Societies | International and Comparative Education | Japanese Studies | Special Education and Teaching