Steffen Seamon, Simon Cohen

ENVS 220 Fall 2018

Framing question

What Values Contribute to Urbanization?

Our hope with this framing question is to examine the values that impacts urban intensification, We want to understand how the shift in urban/rural stratification over the last century has affected environmental health.

Situated Context: Urban Japan

Both Steffen and I have taken an interest in Japan, in part because of our Global Environmental History class with professor Andrew Bernstein. Japan is an interesting case to use when studying urbanization as their process of urban intensification happened rapidly due to a shift in values in Japanese culture. After the Second World War, Japan sought to advance their industrial progress to catch up with the rest of the world. This led to a process of rapid urbanization unlike any other in the world.


This concept map seeks to connect the actors associated with the desire for green spaces in Japanese cities. The purpose of this was to chart all of our ideas and findings from our preliminary research.

Focus Question

How do green spaces in urban environments reflect the values of modern Japan?

This question focuses our research to green spaces, which are non-developed areas that either preserve existing landscapes or contain new built natural areas. Our research indicates that Japanese cities have usually contained green spaces. However, the structure of cities has changed following rapid growth after the Second World War. This relates back to our framing question as a case study of how urban spaces are connected to perceptions, or values, of the natural world. We believe that examining green spaces will inform our larger framing question because the processes to create or maintain a green space represent the values of urban residents.


Our methodology in this situated research project relies heavily on statistics/textual scholarship and survey methodology. In our survey methodology we chose to create an extensive survey for this project, since our research will be pertaining to a wide demographic and we desire to capture a wide larger number of voices to represent the values of an urban space. The working title for our survey is “Value Survey on Green Spaces in Urban Environments” which attempts to emulate the style and goals found in the World Values Survey, while pertaining to the subject matter of our particular research project. The working hypothesis/ predicted outcome for this survey is “There is probably some sort of value(s) that maintain green spaces in Japanese urban spaces. This survey will inform to what degree this is true.” It’s rough, but it articulates the goal and predicted outcome of this survey. For this survey, which aims to articulate the values of urban Japanese people pertaining to green spaces,  we chose to use the Likert Scale as the method of survey formation since it is more inclusive for answers. The first portion of the roughly 10 question survey will pertain the Environmental Values as found in the World Values Survey we examined some weeks ago. An example of what this would like is found below. The latter half of the questions will be more exclusive answers, 1-4 options dealing with demographic information such as age, sex, and residential region. This data will be analyzed in a way that informs the values of the people pertaining to our research project, as well as who those people are.

e.g.Q1. Land use Green Space vs. Urban Development

How should land be used in an urban space?

  1. – There should be priority on creating more green space, even if it inhibits urban development
  2. – Green space should be included in an urban space, only of it is convenient for urban development.
  3. – Urban centers should include green spaces, but should be given low priority
  4. – There is no need for urban centers to include green space.

Projected Timeline

Before Departure

  • Preliminary research pertaining to green spaces in urban Japan
  • Determine the necessary statistics of green space in Japan
  • Finalize our extensive research questions for values associated with green spaces
  • Locate a translator/translators who will be available in each of the cities we will conduct our research
  • Finalize locations best suited for our interviews

Week 1-Department from Portland, OR; Arrival in Tokyo, Japan

Weeks 2 – 9– Conduct interviews in significant urban space in Japan: Tokyo, Yokohama, and Osaka to gather data on the values of modern Japanese people

Weeks 10-12– Perform survey analysis on our finalized results

Weeks 13-Return to Portland, OR.

After Returning

  • Finalize data analysis
  • Begin situating data, potentially by using GIS or other appropriate methodology
  • Publish a report that answers our focus question of “How do green spaces in urban environments reflect the values of modern Japan?”

Importance of Results

After conducting our survey, we would hope to gain an understanding of the reasoning behind creating and preserving green spaces in Japanese cities. These findings would reflect cultural values in Japan and the level of importance placed on interaction with the biophysical world. This would be important for understanding urban ecology in Japan and for comparing Japan’s cities with those of the rest of the world. Values play an important role in determining why decisions are made and how people act. By knowing these values we can understand why Japanese citizens behave the way they do and why they craft uniquely Japanese urban environments.


Here is a link to our final poster that displays the information of our proposal in a more presentable format.


Here is a link to a feed of the posts detailing our progress on the project.

Annotated Bibliography