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Engineering College's Ariel Pinto to Lecture at Japanese University as Part of Exchange Program

For almost 10 years, the University of Kitakyushu in Japan has hosted an Old Dominion University faculty member for two weeks on a cultural exchange, to teach a course in American Society and American Culture.

This year's ODU participant, Ariel Pinto, associate professor of engineering management and systems engineering in the Frank Batten College of Engineering and Technology, will teach the Japanese university students how major events can serve as 'punctuation' in a country's history and be viewed as windows into its society and culture.

Pinto -- co-founder of the Emergent Risk Institute at ODU (ERI@ODU) with Michael McShane, assistant professor of finance -- will teach how risk events of great magnitude 'have ripples that go further than the realm of engineering, and permeate societies and cultures.'

Pinto's course, which he has given the Japanese title Ame Futte Ji Katamaru (rain on ground hardens, or hard times make you stronger), will focus on recent crises in American history (such as Hurricane Katrina) that can provide insight to Japanese students seeking a deeper understanding of America.

The 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan will allow Pinto to broaden his discussion into a comparative analysis of how each country deals with crisis and risk.

"This will be accomplished primarily when the entire class interacts to describe generalizable similarities and differences between American and Japanese cultures and societies reflected by particular pairs of events. This cross-cultural analysis of risk events is of great value in the area of risk analysis and management," Pinto said.

For the past 10 years, Pinto has been working on the topic of risk from an engineering perspective. He combined forces with McShane in an attempt to take a multidisciplinary look at risk prediction, management and mitigation.

Pinto is the eighth ODU faculty member to lecture at the University of Kitakyushu, located on Japan's southern island of Kyushu. Classes will be conducted from Aug. 23 to Sept. 8. Pinto will teach a series of 15 classes (three per day, five days a week). The exchange program, sponsored by ODU's Office of International Programs, is open to full-time faculty from any discipline.

Recent participants have included David Roh, assistant professor of English (2011); Victoria Time, associate professor of sociology (2008); Peter Schulman, professor of foreign languages and literatures (2007); and Joseph Cosco, associate professor of English (2005).

This article was posted on: August 14, 2012

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