Education in Biosphere Reserves to Enhance Intercultural Competence between Japanese and Russian Youth
Japan and Russian youth has many stereotypical cultural perceptions about each other’s culture, which in many times leads to cultural misunderstandings with negative effects. In this study we decided to use Biosphere Reserves (BRs), which are highly recognized areas under UNESCO’s MAB Programme for their conservation, learning and sustainable development initiatives, to enhance the cultural competence and awareness in youth of both countries. 50 Japanese students were divided into two groups and visited 3 Russian BR with 4 universities, with 2 weeks’ duration of each trip. Later 14 Russian students visited Japanese Mount Hakusan BR and participated in the academic BR training course for 3-weeks. We have conducted the specific survey to evaluate the changes in students’ knowledge, attitude and skills towards each other’s culture, and it was observed that all 3 elements were increased in all students. Besides 90% of students replied that they were strongly agree, that BR helped them to understand cultural diversity of each county. 87% replied that community interaction was the most effective way to break cultural stereotypes. This kind of cross-cultural communication in BR, showed very positive results and can be used as the new methodology for the future environmental education.
Keywords: Environmental Education, Sustainability, Biosphere Reserves, Cultural Competence, Awareness