Skip to main content
Curriculum as Social Practice: The case of Fukushima
European Journal of Curriculum Studies
  • Kathryn Hibbert, The University of Western Ontario
  • Penelope Engle-Hills, Cape Peninsula University of Technology
  • May Abdel-Wahab, International Atomic Energy Agency
  • Rethy Chhem, Cambodia Development Resource Institute
  • Ari Hasegawa, Fukushima Medical University
  • Atsushi Kumagai, Fukushima Medical University
  • Pisith Phluong, Western University
Document Type
Publication Date

Despite the persistent threat from disasters to human health worldwide, meaningful lessons in preparedness are rarely integrated into the health professional curricula of those likely to be first responders. Although core competencies in disaster management have been identified, little is known about how to translate those competencies into multiple curricula across diverse groups who must function together in complex, emotionally charged conditions. In an unprecedented collective response, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) (Chhem & Abdel-Wahab, Vienna, Austria) worked with the first medical responders (Hasegawa & Kumagai) at Japan’s Fukushima Medical University (FMU) on a project led by educational scholars (Hibbert, Canada and Engle-Hills, South Africa) to address needed changes to curriculum that would authentically reflect the lessons learned. Taking a qualitative approach to study experiences of the first medical responders, this study highlights the role of context as a disruptor to the best laid curricular plans, and considers a collective response to plan for our futures.


We wish to thank Fukushima Medical University and the International Atomic Energy Agency, Division of Human Health for their ongoing support of a project that by its very nature was emergent. We would especially like to thank the courageous people of the Fukushima Prefecture; and the first medical responders who allowed us the privilege of learning with them.

Citation Information
Kathryn Hibbert, Penelope Engle-Hills, May Abdel-Wahab, Rethy Chhem, et al.. "Curriculum as Social Practice: The case of Fukushima" European Journal of Curriculum Studies Vol. 4 Iss. 1 (2017) p. 556 - 569
Available at: