Making the world her classroom
5/2/2014 10:02:10 AM
Graduating IR student Yuki NoritakeIR student looks at urban-rural interactions globally

Graduating international relations student Yuki Noritake honours study helps explain urban development patterns in the global south, the nature of urban-rural interactions, and the role of changing employment patterns in an urbanization process.

Noritake, who is from Aichi, Japan, became interested in the project after a series of experiences abroad. 

“During the summer after my first-year at Mount A, I went to Sri Lanka to volunteer on a water project for three months in a very rural area. I became very curious about the differences between urban and rural areas,” she said.

After her second-year, Noritake went to the Shastri Institute Mount Allison Summer Program in India.  The program offers a cultural and educational immersion in the South Indian city of Mysore. She stayed in India and did an internship outside New Delhi, supported by an Armand Bombardier international travel grant. Noritake was able to make the internship, which with the Centre for science and environment, a New Delhi-based research and advocacy organization and Seva Mandir, a Rajasthan-based NGO, part of an experiential learning course at Mount Alison. In this internship she worked on rural and tribal development issues and the experience got her interested in research and research in India in particular.

The result of these experiences led to her thesis on urbanization in India. The next summer, it was back to Bangalore, India to carry out her research supported by a Mount Allison University summer undergraduate research grant.

Dr. Tim Reiffenstein, professor in the department of geography and environment and Noritake’s supervisor on this project, said, “Yuki is a highly effective and accomplished researcher. She undertook a particularly challenging research problem, carried it out with the utmost rigor and has produced a thesis with several important findings. I credit her tireless work ethic. But it is also clear her talents have been nurtured by her time at Mount Allison in courses across a number of departments.”

Historically urbanization studies focus on the very core of urban areas, metropolitan spaces. Noritake believes what is more important is the area between urban and rural. “Changes of employment or industry are more significant or rapid in this area,” said Noritake.

Analyzing urbanization has traditionally been Eurocentric with conclusions that urbanization in parts of Asia was somehow not happening in the right way. According to Noritake, Terry McGee, an expert in urbanization, argued that it was not wrong it was just different because these areas differed in significant ways from Europe. He created a model to explain the unique process of urbanization in Asia called Desa-kota.

For her research, Noritake looked at whether this model, developed to explain the unique process of urbanization in South East Asia, Korea, and Japan, is also applicable to India as well. “There has been a lot of research on this model in South East Asia, Indonesia, Korea, Japan but very little in India. So my research looked at whether this model is applicable to India.”

Noritake has been accepted into a Master’s of science in modern Japanese studies program at Oxford University. 
Photo caption: Yuki Noritake, in garnet, volunteers in Sri Lanka.