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SC Lecture Waste and Recycling in East Asia


Admission requirements



This course will explore waste and recycling in East Asia as a social and cultural phenomenon. In recent decades, waste has garnered increasing global attention primarily as an environmental problem. But waste is also closely connected to the daily lives of ordinary people and, thus, can shed light on a range of questions useful for understanding East Asian societies.
The following topics will be addressed during the course: how the state, the citizens, and the private sector interact with waste; how wasted materials live through everyday lives; how waste acquires social meanings; and how waste becomes a means to make a living. Particular attention will be paid to the managements, practices and discourses emerged through the ways that different actors engage with waste in contemporary China, Japan, South Korean and Taiwan.

Course objectives

By the end of the course students will
• Understand and reproduce key concepts and themes important for a cultural/social understanding of waste;
• Understand and reproduce key concepts and themes important for understanding East Asian societies;
• Connect key concepts and themes from the cultural/social understanding of waste to those of social practices in East Asian societies;
• Analyze discourses and practices of disposal and recycling from a cultural and social perspective.


The timetable is available on the Japanstudies

Mode of instruction


Course Load

Total course load 5EC x 28 hours= 140 hours

  • Lectures: 12 X 2 =24

  • Reading =62

  • Assignments =50

Assessment method

  • Analytic element: Garbage journal (one entry per week, 40%)

  • Participation element: Discussion leading (at least one session, 30%)

  • Research element: Research essay (30%)

Analytic element and reseach element must be passed to receive a passing grade for the course. The course grade will be determined based on the weighted average of course elements once all elements have been passed.


For the essay to be submitted for the research element, two deadlines apply. Failure to submit by the second ‘resit’ deadline will result in a reduction of the grade in accordance with program regulations.



Reading list

Readings for the course will be available via Blackboard.


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.

General information about uSis is available in English and Dutch


Y.A. Dung:
H.J. Pak:
R.C. Tompkins: