Join the 11thAnnual Pan-SIG Conference in Hiroshima!

Naomi Fujishima, Okayama University and Pan-SIG 2012 Conference Chair


On June 16 and 17 of this year, the 11th Pan-SIG Conference will be held on the Higashi Hiroshima campus of Hiroshima University. What does Pan-SIG mean, do you ask? The prefix "pan" comes from the Greek word meaning "all," and of course, SIG stands for Special Interest Group. Since 2002, the SIGs in JALT have held an annual conference on a decided theme for those of us who prefer a more intimate and relaxed atmosphere from the larger national JALT conferences. Looking back, the Pan-SIG has come a long way with just two SIGs involved ten years ago, CUE (College and University Educators) and TEVAL (Testing and Evaluation). Their purpose was to outline some of the issues dealing with curriculum changes at the time, which were influenced by the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology’s policy changes in tertiary level education. Since then, year-by-year the Pan-SIG has grown from two SIGs to the twenty-two participating in 2012. This year, we look at education from a different angle with the theme of literacy.

The full title of the 11thPan-SIG Conference theme is Literacy: SIGnals of Emergence. When hearing the term literacy, most people think about reading and understanding written texts. However, more recently, critical literacy has focused on the ability to question and analyze these texts and see them in their social context. At the Pan-SIG Conference, we bring together special interest groups with diverse backgrounds to focus on literacy and how it is relevant to their fields. At the time of this writing, we are still accepting submissions for the call for papers so the schedule is not set yet, but so far, there are a variety of proposals that touch on literacy from many different angles. With twenty-two different SIGs, you can imagine what a wealth of topics there will be!

To bring more light to our understanding of literacy, we are proud to have three plenary speakers – Dr. Thomas Cobb, Université du Québec à Montréal, Dr. Hiromi Nagao, Hiroshima Jogakuin University, and Dr. Toshihiko Shiotsu, Kurume University. With their diverse backgrounds, we will certainly gain many perspectives on what literacy is in this day and age, and how understanding it better can inform our own teaching and research interests.

Another reason to attend the conference this year is because it is in Hiroshima, the city devoted to the cause of world peace andabolitionof nuclear weapons. You can visit the Atomic Bomb Dome, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and located in the Peace Memorial Park in downtown Hiroshima. Stay in Hiroshima an extra night or come a day early so you can also visit Miyajima, where the famous Itsukushima shrine is located. Don’t forget to try these delicacies that Hiroshima is famous for – okonomiyaki, oysters, and anagomeshi!

Finally, you don’t want to miss visiting Hiroshima University. It is a beautiful campus located in Higashi Hiroshima in the serene countryside of Hiroshima Prefecture. Inside the vast campus grounds, there is a beautiful lake with a small stream running between the school buildings. After listening to some presentations or checking out the publishers’ displays, you can take a walk outside and feel refreshed before heading back in for more intellectual stimulation.

There are several ways to get to the university from Hiroshima City, but the easiest is to take a direct bus from the center of town (go to the Bus Center next to Sogo Department Store). It takes about 55 minutes to get to the Hirodai-nishiguchi stop, which is the closest stop to the buildings where the conference will take place. Another way is to take the local train from Hiroshima station to Saijo station (a 35-minute ride) then take a bus to the campus. At any rate, you can check the Hiroshima University website for more information on access. Be sure to visit the Pan-SIG 2012 website to get the latest updates on the schedule, registration,and accommodations: <>.

We hope you will mark your calendars and make it over to Hiroshima on June 16 and 17. You still have time to register for the conference!

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