Ohio University

Kohei Miura Visiting Professor Benjamin Bates recounts Chubu University experiences and lasting impacts

Published: March 26, 2021 Author: Staff reports

Ohio University Professor of Communication Studies Dr. Benjamin Bates spent the spring 2019 semester at Chubu University in Japan, and his work there continues to impact his ongoing research and scholarship.

From May 8 through June 18, 2019, Bates served as the Kohei Miura Visiting Professor at Chubu University

Bates, the Barbara Geralds Schoonover Professor of Health Communication in the School of Communication Studies, arrived at Chubu University under a proposal to partner with its faculty tropical disease research, leveraging his affiliation with OHIO’s Infectious and Tropical Disease Institute. Upon arrival, it was discovered that his Chubu University colleagues’ availability had changed and this research path during his tenure as Miura Visiting Professor required a shift in topic. 

“We tell our students this when they go on study abroad: The number one skill you're going to develop is a tolerance for ambiguity. In this case, I, too, harnessed this skill,” Bates said. “Fortunately, the people at Chubu University are incredibly gracious and are very tolerant of ambiguity as well.”

Within 24 hours of his arrival, Bates developed a secondary research topic: Communication patterns around alcohol. Chubu University leaders were excited when he suggested looking at Japanese beer and how it manifests culture, pertaining to topics ranging from production, consumption, advertising, representation and identity. 

Bates was welcomed by faculty partners across Chubu University to observe, research and experience authentic Japanese cultural conventions in the context of the society’s relationship with alcohol; opportunities to experience the nuance and unique persona of Japanese beer culture. His research and experiences on this topic have enhanced his class taught in the School of Communication Studies on “The Rhetoric of Beer,” along with additional research and publications.

Established in 1973, OHIO President Dr. Claude Sowle and Chubu University President Dr. Kohei Miura signed a formal agreement that Chubu University in Kasugai City, Japan and Ohio University would exchange professors through the Kohei Miura Visiting Professorship (OHIO to Chubu) and Robert Glidden Visiting Professorship (Chubu to OHIO), along with many other collaborative activities to create a lasting global partnership. 

The time at Chubu University continues to influence Bates’ teachings at OHIO. The 13 weeks he spent at Chubu University were filled with a wide range of events and activities including the following:

  • Attending English Language conversation events, and speaking with Japanese students about studying at OHIO and life in Athens.
  • Fostering meaningful connections, personal and professional, with Chubu University faculty, administrators and academic leaders.  
  • Attending and observing social activities in a variety of cultural spaces including at a “Chūnichi Dragons” Japanese Baseball game, at the Asahi Beer Factory, at Beer Festivals in Osaka, Kyoto and Saitama, and through local faculty gatherings.
  • Cultivating contacts within the Japanese beer brewing industry at both craft and macro brew levels.

The longstanding partnership between Chubu University and OHIO has created a lasting trust between the two intuitions, which fosters enriching global outreach and impact on both sides.

“Person-to-person exchanges are a different way of building cultural relationships; Chubu University partners were interested to explore the personal connections, which were valued as much as explicitly engaging in cooperative teaching and research through formal channels,” Bates said. 

“The faculty and staff at Chubu University are so willing to help anyone see a way that they can expand either their personal or their academic enrichment through this exchange,” Bates added. “And I think that’s the big takeaway; even if it doesn’t work out following the plan that you had expected, they want to make sure that you have a positive and fulfilling experience to inform something you do back in the United States. And they’ll do what they can to make that possible.” 

The Miura Visiting Professorship is accepting applications for 2022 until Wednesday, March 31, 2021. For more information on the professorship, visit the story or contact the Office of Global Affairs at globalaffairs@ohio.edu