Geometry of a Ghost: Guest Lecture by Artist and scholar Wills Glasspiegel

Artist and scholar Wills Glasspiegel presents “Geometry of a Ghost,” a mixed-media lecture that surveys his films, research and community organizing with dancers and DJs in Chicago. Glasspiegel focuses on the history and future of Chicago footwork, an enduring African American battle dance and electronic music. His talk explores footwork through the art of dance filmmaking. Wills highlights his recent collaboration, Skywalkers, a permanent installation film that juxtaposes footwork and the Native American grass dance for O’hare International Airport. Wills also explores the history of Chicago footwork in Japan.

EVENT: Mixed-media lecture by artist and scholar Wills Glasspiegel 
WHEN: Thursday, June 27th, 2024; 16:50 – 18:20 (5th period)
WHERE: Aoyama Gakuin University Campus, 17511 教室 (5th floor of Building 17)
TARGET AUDIENCE: Anyone interested in dance, performance, and racial justice.

BIO: Wills Glasspiegel is an award-winning filmmaker, public artist, scholar, community organizer, and co-founder and executive director of the arts and racial justice nonprofit Open the Circle ( In 2023, he co-directed Skywalkers, a large-scale, permanent installation film. In 2021-22, Wills co-directed two projection films, Footnotes and Billiken, for Art on the Martʼs 2.5 acre projection system in downtown Chicago. The New York Times published a feature story on Footnotes, and Time Out Chicago recognized the film as “public art of the year.” Wills screens his work in a multitude of contexts, from public parks to art galleries and museums. In 2017, he co-founded Open the Circle (OTC) in Chicago. OTC channels resources into grassroots dance education projects in low-income Chicago communities, including funding from the National Endowment for the Arts and the MacArthur Foundation. Wills spent several years working alongside electronic musicians and dancers from Sierra Leone (bubu music) and South Africa (Shangaan electro) in the late 2000s. He was a co-recipient of a Peabody Award for his contributions to the public radio program Afropop Worldwide. Wills has produced public radio segments about arts and culture for National Public Radioʼs All Things Considered and Morning Edition. He completed a PhD at Yale University in African American Studies and American Studies, with his dissertation “Geometry of a Ghost: Chicago Footwork and the Sound System Continuum.” Wills received a master’s degree in Media, Culture and Communication from New York University, and a bachelor’s degree in English from Yale. He grew up in Chicago, where he lives and works today.

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Talk and Workshop on Sexual Violence

This three hour event, sponsored by TELL (an English lifeline and mental health advocacy organization) and hosted at Seisen International School, will consist of a 2-part program. There will be a 90-minute panel discussion with local experts highlighting various aspects of the problem of sexual violence, such as the potential mental health impacts of being subjected to these crimes and the challenges of pursuing a case through the criminal justice system. This discussion will be followed by a Q&A session with the panelists.

The panel will be followed with a 90-minute interactive self-defense exercise where female black belt Aikido practitioners will demonstrate and teach specially developed techniques based on Aikido principles. If you plan to participate in the Aikido exercise, please be aware that you will need to practice barefoot.

Ticket Availability & Pricing:
Purchase tickets here >> Tickets are available from April 7th.

EVENT: Talk and Workshop on Sexual Violence in Japan
WHEN: Sunday May 12th, 2024; 2:00 PM – 5:00 PM
WHERE: Seisen International School / 1 Chome-12-15 Yoga, Setagaya City, Tokyo 158-0097
TARGET AUDIENCE: Anyone interested in the issue of sexual assault in Japan and resources available for survivors and for all to be better protected.

HANDOUT: Official Flyer for the Event

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In Praise of Trees

Due to a redevelopment plan for the Jingu Gaien area, thousands of trees, many of them over 100 years old and storing huge amounts of planet-warming carbon, are slated to be cut down. Groups of citizens and ICOMOS (an advisory body to UNESCO) have protested these ill-conceived plans. Various events have been (and are being) held to raise awareness and rally support for the preservation of the trees and this remarkable green space. This is an announcement about one such event that involves music and artistic expression.

EVENT: In Praise of Trees–An Afternoon of Song, Joy & Art


WHEN: May 19, 2024 (Sunday), 15:30~17:30

WHERE: What the Dickens Pub (Ebisu) [1-13-3 Ebisunishi, Shibuya 150-0021 Tokyo]

TARGET AUDIENCE: Anyone who wants to support the movement to save the many trees threatened by the Jingu Gaien redevelopment project.

— Refer to this PDF for full details.

Articles to help you learn more about the issue:

ICOMOS Heritage Alert Jingu Gaien

UNESCO body calls for halt to Tokyo redevelopment over tree loss (JAPAN TIMES)

Official Site of “Save Jingu Gaien” (non-profit volunteer organization started in 2022 by Tokyo residents dedicated to protecting the area from a redevelopment project)

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A Playful Year-end Gathering

Three of our IE colleagues have generously offered to be part of a panel on possible classroom applications of Tabletop role-playing games (TTRPGs) on December 22nd from 6:30 PM. A chance to try out a variety of TTRPGs will be made available after the brief talks (described below). Please RSVP if you are interested in joining by filling out this Google Form:

EVENT: Introducing University Students to TTRPGs (Tabletop role-playing games): The Good Kind of Contagious

GUEST SPEAKERS: Kinsella Valies, Timothy Gutierrez, and Dax Thomas

WHEN: Dec 22, 2023 (Friday), 18:30~21:30 [Must leave the building by 10 PM]

WHERE: Aoyama Gakuin University, Building 15 (Goucher Hall): Room 15-301. [Breakout sessions will take place in neighboring rooms: 15302 & 15304.]

TARGET AUDIENCE: Those interested in the educational applications of Role-playing Games and who would like to experience them for themselves in a relaxed atmosphere.

Refer to this PDF for full details.

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Lecture & Concert by Bluesman Steve Gardner


Born in Mississippi in 1956, Steve Gardner is an accomplished blues musician and photographer, having studied photojournalism at the University of Southern Mississippi and blues from the “School of Hard Knocks.” After working as a photojournalist in the States, he came to Japan, where he has freelanced for Japanese magazines as well as for Time and Newsweek. The interest in the blues that he found in Japan led him to create a picture book on Mississippi and the blues, Rambling Mind (1994). His first CD, “Rambling With The Blues” (2002) is this book’s musical counterpart. He recorded another CD in New Orleans, Louisiana, “Walkin’ the dog” (2008), and his most recent release is an album named “Miz Sally’s Yellow Cat Song Book” (2015), which is about–and dedicated to–his mom, Miz Sally. 

Through his music and stories, Steve Gardner will take us on a journey from the world at large to Mississippi and show us where the blues came from — both geographically and spiritually.

EVENT: Open Lecture/ Concert
WHEN: December 14, 2023 (Thursday), 3rd Period (13:20~14:50)
WHERE: Aoyama Campus of AGU, Former Junior College TL402 / See MAP
TARGET AUDIENCE: IE students and any other interested parties who love music

HANDOUT: Roots Workshop Worksheet PDF

Thursday IE Core and IE Seminar teachers and their classes–as well as any other teachers and students who can make it–should feel free to participate in this special event.

Here is an article about Steve Gardner that was written by a former professor in our department, Wayne Pounds, for the Metropolis magazine. It shows some of Mr. Gardner’s excellent photography and puts his music into historical context.

Click on the graphic (below) to access some fine blues songs about southern cooking, especially the art of barbecue.


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Constructive Ways to Manage Stress and Life Crises

There will be a Special Lecture for all IE classes on the topic of how to deal with stress and mental hardships by Ms. Vickie Skorji of TELL at 2nd period (from 11:00 AM) on Tuesday, October 31. As the presentation room is large (Room 931), any interested party may feel free to attend the lecture even if they do not have an IE class to bring with them.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, most of us have been under even greater stress than in normal circumstances. The incidence of “futoko” (school refusal) has been increasing and even at the university level, more students are experiencing disruptions to their education and social life due to stress, family problems, issues with relationships, and mental conditions such as depression and anxiety.

Vickie Skorji, the Lifeline Director of TELL–an organization that has provided free crisis counseling and information over the phone and through chat for members of the foreign and Japanese communities since 1973–will share some effective ways to manage stress and to identify signs that those around us are distressed and may need help. The talk will touch upon…

•Stresses that are unique to college life

•Cultural adjustment issues

•Techniques to help manage stress

•How we can help friends who may be in crisis

•The support and resources we can tap into.

•How TELL can help

We strongly encourage all Core and IE Seminar teachers who have classes on Tuesday to bring their groups to this event.  Help your students prepare for the talk by referring them to these resources offered by TELL.

EVENT: Lecture and workshop on effective ways of dealing with stress
Constructive Ways to Manage Stress and Life Crises
WHERE: Aoyama Gakuin University (Aoyama Campus): Building 9, Room 931
WHEN: Tuesday 31 October 2023; from 2nd period (from 11:00 AM – 12:30 PM)
SPEAKER: Vickie Skorji (TELL Lifeline Director)

Please have your students go DIRECTLY to the lecture room. It is disruptive to the speaker when streams of students arrive while a talk is in progress.

We have a large venue for this talk, so please pass the word to people in other departments and, if you happen to be teaching a class for another department at the time of this lecture, and would like to attend with your students, you may do so. Please let Joseph Dias know, though, so he can make certain there is sufficient capacity.

Speaker Introduction

Vickie Skorji
TELL Lifeline Director

Mrs Vickie Skorji completed her Bachelor of Behavioral Sciences with honors from La Trobe University, Australia in 1995, and a Masters in Counseling from Monash University. She has specialist training in neuropsychology and Acquired Brain Injury in both hospital and rehabilitation settings. Prior to moving to Hong Kong and Tokyo, she managed an Acquired Brain Injury Support Service in Australia, supporting families and individuals with a variety of neurological conditions such as dementia, Parkinson’s disease, Multiple Sclerosis, Stroke and migraine. She has developed and run carer education training courses, carer weekend retreats and published a resource book for carers of people with neurological conditions or Acquired Brain Injury. She has developed and given both workplace and community presentations on carer needs, stress management and stroke prevention. More recently her interests and presentations have included cultural adjustment, adolescent issues in Japan, work life balance and suicide prevention.

Click on the above image to access an article introducing Vickie Skorji in the magazine Savvy Tokyo. Another interesting article that will help you prepare for the talk appeared on the website, Zenbird: Interview with TELL: Japan’s need for higher quality mental health care.

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“Pride and Prejudice”–Drama adapted from Jane Austen novel

The Tokyo International Players (TIP) will be performing an adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice from May 18th – 21st. Some IE teachers may be incorporating the novel, and the dramatization of it, into the curriculum, either going to see the play as a group or offering it as an optional “outing.”

Information about the play can be found at: Notice that there is a steep discount for students.

Xreading, the online reading platform used in the IE Program at the IE I and II levels, has four extensive readers based on Pride and Prejudice, which range from 1000-2100 headwords. Students are advised to read a version of the novel that fits their “comfortable” reading level before going to see the play. As the university has a site license to use Xreading, any student in the English Department who wishes to use it (even if the program is not used in their IE classes or if they’ve graduated out of the IE Program) should inform Ms. Oshima at the English Department office (9th Floor of Goucher Hall).

The Tokyo International Players (TIP) was founded in 1896. Its members have mainly been made up of talent from the Tokyo foreign community, but Japanese cast members and supporting staff have also played key roles.

The organization, 100% volunteer-run, provides quality English-language entertainment for international audiences. Over its long history, many active members have appeared in professional theatre in Japan and abroad.

TIP is always looking for new on-stage talent, directors, designers, and backstage crew, as well as people to support their various front-of-house, fundraising, and promotional activities. They consider enthusiasm, energy, and a fun-loving nature to be more important than experience.

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IE Program Plenary Talks: Why we write…Right from the beginning

We are pleased to welcome back Prof. Gregory Strong, formerly a co-coordinator of the IE Program, for a special talk open to all IE Program students and teachers. 

EVENT: Lecture titled “Writing to You”
WHEN: May 25, 2023 (Thursday), 4th period — from 15:05
Aoyama Gakuin University Campus (Shibuya); Room 930
TARGET AUDIENCE: All IE Program students and teachers (and any other interested parties)

Description of Talk:

What’s “writing to you”? A course assignment? A text or even a letter someone is “writing to you?” But what about the transmission, historic and cultural, of “writing to you”?

We rarely think about how much knowledge we hold in our hand in the act of writing or what we’re doing when we’re learning to read and write. Yet the goal of education everywhere is to teach people how to read their language. Writing is “an everyday miracle” which you and I access and that some estimates place at least 45,000 years after homo sapiens learned to speak. Some suggest that speaking began much sooner among early humans and that writing might have developed 1.9 million years later!

This lecture will track the history of writing from its origins in the distant past to the present, moving around the world, illustrated with photos like the stele with Hammurabi’s code in the Louvre, or the Gutenberg Bible at Keio University, one of less than 150 copies still extant.

We will move from Sumerian cuneiform to Egyptian hieroglyphics and technologies associated with it such as the Roman stylus and wax tablet, papyrus to paper and the quill, the pencil and the ballpoint pen, the Qwerty keyboard and several media such as the book, and the newspaper, and the blog, and some issues with each such as fair representation and accountability. (There will be a handout with vocabulary and several interactive parts to the lecture: students will share a cuneiform message, and compete to make words out of moveable type).


Gregory Strong is a retired professor from the English Department of Aoyama Gakuin University, Tokyo where he co-directed the Integrated English Program. His extensive publications include academic research, biography, and fiction. His theatre pieces have been performed, most recently, Tom Thomson Is Missing for the 2022 Vancouver Fringe Theatre Festival.

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Talk on Diversity & Inclusion

Dr. Curtiss Takada Rooks, an inspiring lecturer who has spoken on two occasions at AGU, will be the keynote speaker at a free talk on March 9th at the International House of Japan. His speech will be about solidarity between Japanese-Americans and other minority communities, referring to case studies from research projects on diversity, equity, and inclusion. 

EVENT: Reflections from Japanese Americans on today’s drive for diversity and inclusion
WHEN: March 9, 2023 (Thursday), 16:00~18:00
International House of Japan; Iwasaki Koyata Memorial Hall Click here.
LANGUAGE: English & Japanese (with simultaneous interpretation)
TARGET AUDIENCE: Anyone interested in diversity, inclusion, and Japanese American affairs.


Born in Kanagawa Japan to a native Japanese mother and African American father, Dr. Rooks earned his B.A. in 1979 with a double major in Economics and Asian Studies (honors) from Dartmouth College. He received his M.A. in Public Policy from Trinity College in 1982 and his Ph.D. in Comparative Culture from the University of California, Irvine. In 1996, he was a University of California Regents Fellow. Prior to his appointment at Loyola Marymount University, Dr. Takada Rooks was a tenured assistant professor in Asian American Studies at San Jose State University.

Refer to this PDF for full details about this free event: 

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Vegan and SDGs: Is it time to go vegan? (IE Program Lecture Series)

Nadia McKechnie

In this talk, given by the talented and versatile Nadia McKechnie, we will look at what it means to be vegan, how popular veganism is becoming, and the reasons driving the global vegan trend, particularly among millennials.  How a shift to a vegan lifestyle can help us meet SDGs (the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals), as well as lower the risk of future pandemics, will also be covered.

So, in the course of this talk you will find answers to such questions as:

  • What does it mean to be vegan? 
  • Just how popular is veganism?
  • What is the reason behind the global vegan trend?
  • How can a vegan lifestyle help us meet SDG goals?
  • What is the connection between being vegan and preventing future pandemics?

TITLE: Vegan and SDGs: Is it time to go vegan?
WHEN: December 1, 2022 (Thursday), 13:20~14:50 (3rd period)
WHERE: AGU; Aoyama Campus; Room 910 (1st floor of Building 9) Click here.
TARGET AUDIENCE: All English Department IE students and any other interested students and faculty. individuals from outside of the university are also welcome.

Write questions that you would like to ask Nadia using THIS FORM.

Biography of Nadia McKechnie

Originally from London UK, Nadia McKechnie has been involved in the Japan vegan scene since 2013 as the organizer of Tokyo Vegan Meetup–the biggest vegan event group in Japan with over 8,700 members. (Winner of The Japan Vegetarian award for best vegan community group in 2019.)

Nadia is an active member of the Veggy Council Japan,  a bipartisan committee of lawmakers and vegan-interested groups set up in 2019, in the Japan government, with the aim of making Japan more vegan-friendly.

Nadia is very well connected in Japan’s as well as the global vegan scene , often sharing information as well as media comments, writing essays and giving talks.  

In 2022, Nadia established Vegan Consulting Japan Co., Ltd. (joint CEO) with the aim of helping Japan companies join the growing worldwide vegan market. 

Apart from her vegan activities, Nadia has a successful 25 career as a narrator ( NHK/ commercial/educational, etc) & is the author of best-selling English language learning books & materials.

To be better prepared for the event, learn a bit about the connection between what we eat and the environment by watching this video:

Rachael Lucas will also speak briefly during this session about her efforts to help both Japanese and foreign residents of Japan accurately identify what food items are vegan, which is not as easy a task as you might imagine it to be. Alex Derycz and Rachael Lucas will join Nadia on the stage for a panel discussion at the end of the talk.

Biography of Rachael Lucas

She has lived in Japan for 15 out of the last 17 years. Originally from California, USA, Rachael Lucas has been involved in the Japan vegan scene since 2018 as content creator for the website Is it Vegan? (Japan), one of the largest English-language vegan websites in the country, with more than 100,000 pageviews annually. It introduces vegan food products, ingredients, personal care products, and more. 

Rachael Lucas

She also shares information about veganism as administrator of Facebook groups and on Instagram, as well as by writing articles.  Apart from her vegan activities, Rachael spends her free time helping stray cats and picking up garbage in her neighborhood.

Biography of Alex Derycz

Alex Derycz is currently working as a vegan/sustainable lifestyle influencer to help promote plant-based diets in a fun and accessible way for Japanese audiences. He moved to Japan 5 years ago after graduating from UCLA and speaks 5 languages.

Instagram –
Twitter –

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