Workshops Without Borders: Building an Online Community of Japan Scholars
By Amy Catalinac, New York University, Charles Crabtree, Dartmouth College, Christina L. Davis, Harvard University, Shinju Fujihira, Harvard University, Yusaku Horiuchi, Dartmouth College, Phillip Y. Lipscy, University of Toronto, Frances McCall Rosenbluth, Yale University and Daniel M. Smith, Columbia University
Many social science departments include scholars whose work involves different world regions. Department breadth presents an opportunity to learn from colleagues working across very different settings. It also presents a challenge. Researchers who work on specific contexts must ask: Is my understanding of this feature of the political system or policy area correct? What other conclusions have scholars drawn that might be relevant to my line of inquiry? Have I identified and addressed all potential competing explanations? To answer these questions, scholars must share their work with others in the same field.
Few of us in the Japanese politics community are fortunate to have other Japan scholars in the same department. This is largely true for other country and regional experts, except for Americanists. Conferences have always been important venues to engage researchers with similar interests. Concerned that the COVID-19 pandemic would diminish opportunities to receive feedback and interact with fellow academics, we established the Japanese Politics Online Seminar Series (jposs.org), or JPOSS. This article describes JPOSS and its advantages for our community, and it summarizes logistical and technical challenges.