Special Exchange Project - ESD Program Details

Japan-U.S. Educational Commission administers the Japan-U.S. Teacher Exchange Program for Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) to bring together the teachers in the U.S. and Japan to deepen mutual understanding of each other’s educational system and culture through the theme of ESD.

The program is administered with the assistance from the Institute of International Education (IIE) in the U.S., and by the Japan-U.S. Educational Commission.

ESD Program Details 2017


The Japan-U.S. Teacher Exchange Program for Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) was jointly funded by the governments of Japan and the U.S. This program is designed to introduce innovative Japanese and U.S. K-12 educators' culture and education system, and to enhance ESD-related curricula in both countries. The program aims to raise awareness of ESD-oriented school programs and deepen a sense of global interconnectedness between teachers in Japan and the U.S. based on the themes of environmental education and food education.

The United Nation announced that ESD will play a vital role in developing a generation that can make innovative changes to raise awareness on matters requiring further understanding, such as food and sustainable nutrition, environment, energy and resources, poverty and conflicts. Therefore, the United Nation decided to take on a new initiative that for 10 years, from 2005 to 2015, will be the year of ESD, and UNESCO will be taking the lead to enhance the ESD-related activities worldwide. On November 2014, the UNESCO World Conference on ESD was held in Nagoya, Japan. The up-to-date results were shared at the conference, and the United Nation re-announced the importance of this program.

2. Program outline

The program is administered in two parts: a study tour of the U.S. for Japanese educators for 2 week in April-May and a study tour of Japan for U.S. educators for 2 weeks in June-July. Participants obtain an understanding of their counterparts' education system and culture through school visits, cultural activities, homestay, and exchanges with teachers and students. Each study tour features a Joint Conference in which program participants from both countries engage in workshops and discussion to share their experiences and expertise in Education for Sustainable Development and collaborate in developing ESD curricula for their home schools.

A special feature of the program is the inclusion in the Joint Conferences of selected American and Japanese teachers from earlier program cohorts who share "best practices" and provide guidance on project planning and implementation to current participants. Furthermore, current and former participants are linked via an online social network in which they may share questions, updates and information before, during and after the April-May and June-July travel portions of the program. Finally, all current year participants are expected to develop collaborative projects on ESD themes to be implemented in their home schools and communities. Each teacher will be required to submit two impact reports on his/her activities as a result of his/her program participation.

U.S. teachers selected to participate in the 2017 program will be expected to attend the first Joint Conference with Japanese teachers in San Francisco and travel to Japan. A second Joint Conference with all participants will be held in Japan.

Program in the U.S. for Japanese Teachers and First Joint Conference
April 22 (Sat)Japanese teachers gather in Narita
April 23 (Sun)Pre-departure orientation and departure/arrival to Washington, D.C.
April 24 (Mon) - 26 (Wed)Orientation, lectures, school and ESD resource site visits in D.C.
April 26 (Wed) - April 30 (Sun)School and ESD resource site visits in a host city (TBD) Homestay
April 30 (Sun)ALL PARTICIPANTS gather in San Francisco, Orientation for U.S. teachers
May 1 (Mon) - May 3 (Wed)Joint Conference of Japanese and U.S. participants featuring presentations, workshops and group discussions
May 4 (Thu)Japanese teachers depart San Francisco
May 5 (Fri)Japanese teachers arrive in Japan
Program in Japan for U.S. Teachers and Second Joint Conference
June 20 (Tue)U.S. teachers depart for Japan
June 21 (Wed)Arrival in Japan
June 22 (Thu) - 23 (Fri)Orientation, lectures, school visits in Tokyo
June 24 (Sat) - 25 (Sun)Travel to site visit city, and homestay
June 26 (Mon) - 28 (Wed)School and ESD resource site visits, return to Tokyo
June 29 (Thu) - July 1 (Sat)Second Joint Conference featuring presentations, group discussions, and planning of collaborative projects
July 2 (Sun)U.S. teachers depart Japan and arrive in the U.S.

Eligibility of the U.S. applicants for the Japan-U.S. Teacher Exchange Program

  1. Hold teaching certificates and/or have the equivalent credentials to teach at their schools
  2. Employed as full-time teachers or administrators at primary or secondary level (grades K-12) schools or school districts. Please note that auxiliary personnel (nurses, social workers, guidance counselors, speech pathologists, etc.), as well as university professors, are NOT eligible. Successful candidates must be employed in education for at least one year following their participation in the program.
  3. U.S. citizen at the time of application.
  4. Reside in one of the 50 states or the District of Columbia or a U.S. territory or protectorate.
  5. In principle, have not had a similar experience in Japan (i.e., teaching in or visiting Japanese schools), including prior participation in the Japan Fulbright Memorial Fund (JFMF) Teacher Program, with the exception of JFMF educators who demonstrate compelling programmatic responsibilities and/or experience in ESD.
In addition to the above requirements, applicants should demonstrate the following:
  1. Commitment to produce substantive ESD-related curricula, which includes international understanding during and after the program.
  2. Commitment to remain active in the field of education as a primary or secondary school teacher or administrator in order to share experiences gained through this program on a long-term basis (at least 2-3 years) in the classroom, school and community. In order to ensure that recipients will remain engaged in primary or secondary education, the program encourages applications from educators with at least three years of experiences. Teachers and administrators with only one or two years of experience, as well as those nearing retirement, should demonstrate how they intend to remain in the profession.
  3. Must have experiences in implementing school activities related to sustainability and a serious professional interest in developing curricula for ESD.
  4. Must have serious academic/professional interests in curriculum development, teaching methodologies and/or projects and activities related to Japan and ESD.
  5. Must have serious interests in international exchanges, including Japan-U.S. exchange, as a component of ESD activities.
  6. Must be familiar with or willing to use internet-based applications (including email, Google Groups or other social media) to connect and communicate with current and past participants. Program participants are expected to plan and develop collaborative ESD-themed projects during the program and to remain in contact with project partners while the projects are conducted in home schools, usually for a period of six months or longer after the program conclusion.
  7. Must be adaptable and flexible, sensitive to group dynamics, and be a team player
  8. Must be in good health. Submitting a medical self-evaluation form is required.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) is available from the websites below:
For U.S. educators, please visit IIE at
For Japanese educators, please view Japanese site.