The main academic component of the conference is the "Roundtable". Each Roundtable consists of four Japanese delegates and four American delegates, and is lead by a Japanese Roundtable coordinator and an American Roundtable coordinator. Delegates are a part of a Roundtable the entire conference that focuses on a specific topic within the context of U.S.-Japan relations.
Culture and Technology
The increasing role that technology plays in our lives has a profound influence on many aspects of our culture, including art, music, social mores and language. For example, social networking services have recently been used as tools to organize mass protests throughout the Middle East against entrenched oppressive governments. In another example, innovation in music creation has created both hits and controversies, as technologies such as autotunes force us to reconsider what art is and how it is created. As heavy consumers of these technologies, we must take an active role in assessing their impact in the way we interact and express ourselves. Through examination of case studies as well as personal experiences, this roundtable will discuss how technologies have affected our culture at the individual as well as societal level.
roundtable leader: Nobuko Masuno.
Environment and Society
The environment has quickly become a pressing issue in the minds of citizens, governments, and corporate leaders. As news of oil spills, extinction of endangered species, and extreme weather becomes more common, many across the globe are contemplating which steps need to be taken in order to address this global problem. Given an almost unanimous understanding of both the reality of climate change and the desire for environmental sustainability, it is essential that we analyze the incentives and responsibilities of various actors in promoting environmental sustainability. This roundtable will examine what role our current society has in dealing with the environment and to what degree that responsibility extends.
roundtable leader: Madison Mears.
Globalization and Agriculture in the 21st Century
The globalization of agriculture has benefited people by making a greater variety of products readily available, increasing the exports of developing countries and, in many cases, decreasing food prices. However, a global food system is not without downfalls. For instance, the steep increases in average food prices due to the 2007-2008 world food crisis were in large part a result of a global food system that amplifies the impact of regional shortages. In addition, some have questioned the efficiency of shipping food over great distances rather than consuming more foods produced locally. Is a system that seeks to maximize efficiency through global trade sustainable? This roundtable will seek to answer this question and to determine whether reforming the global agricultural system holds the key to stopping food shortages, solving poverty and decreasing economic disparity.
roundtable leader: So Nakayama.
Modern Issues in Education
The education a child receives plays an important role in shaping the adult they become. In a world that places so much emphasis on the value of a proper education, it is essential to understand what factors, both inside and outside the classroom, influence such a vital part of every person’s life. This roundtable will aim to identify some of the major problems and controversies regarding education in the United States and Japan. By comparing the two educational systems to each other and to those of other countries, this roundtable will seek a deeper insight into the flaws and benefits of these two systems and aim to identify some possible solutions.
roundtable leader: Cruz Arroyo.
Regional Security in a Global Era
The East Asia/Pacific region has become a focal point in discussions about global security. Mounting territorial disputes between South Korea, China and Japan, along with aggressive North Korean military action and an increasingly powerful Chinese military presence have created cause for concern. As the region is highly important to the economic health of the entire world, it is easy to see why these matters have drawn so much attention. In these uncertain times it is important for Japan and the United States to think anew about their responsibilities in the region. With that in mind, this roundtable will examine the potential actions and roles of Japan and the U.S. in resolving regional security issues in East Asia.
roundtable leader: Patrick Meuer.
Social Minorities and Discrimination
A large variety of social minorities, members of society discriminated against based on gender, race, age, sexual orientation, ethnicity, etc., have existed as part of American and Japanese societies for centuries. This roundtable will examine why people are compelled to discriminate, the ways in which discrimination impacts different aspects of society, and how non-traditional approaches, such as the biological viewpoint and online campaigning, can be used to combat discrimination. As leaders in today’s globalizing society, we will ask how Japan and the United States can lead the way in resolving discrimination while embracing diversity.
roundtable leader: Katherine Jordan.
Social Responsibility and Government
Social Responsibility is the idea that individuals and organizations, such as governments and corporations, have a duty to benefit the greater community. However, which benefits those entities should provide has spawned a never-ending debate. Whether one supports a “big” government with many state-sponsored programs such as the regulation of big business and universal health care, or a “small” government that relies on motivated individuals and an ultra-competitive private sector, different philosophies of government often lead to divergent government actions. This roundtable will examine the extent that governments, citizens, and corporations should serve the community, and how they each should be held responsible.
roundtable leader: Santiago Cruz.