Victor N. Kobayashi (1932 - )

Kobayashi, Victor N.

Short Biography & Significant Contribution

Victor Nobuo Kobayashi has been contributing to the field of comparative education for over 45 years. He is Professor Emeritus of Educational Foundations at the University of Hawai'i Mañoa where he served several terms as Chair for the Department and as Head of International Education for the College of Education.

Professor Kobayashi obtained both his bachelor's and masters degrees in education from the University of Hawai'i. In 1964, he completed his Ph.D. in Philosophy of Education and Comparative Education at the University of Michigan, where he remained as assistant professor in the School of Education and Center for Japanese Studies for several years. His dissertation, John Dewey in Japanese Educational Thought, won the Francis W. Parker Award for Outstanding Dissertation for 1964. His many influences include George Bereday, Claude Eggertsen, R. Freeman Butts, Maxine Greene, and especially Gregory Bateson, during his sojourn in Hawaii. In 1966, he joined the College of Education at the University of Hawai'i, where he remained until his retirement in 2007.

In addition to his teaching duties at the University of Hawai'i, Professor Kobayashi has contributed to the field of education by donating his time and energy to areas of social need, as well as cultural and educational interests. He has worked as a consultant for the Open Society Institute's Supplementary Grant, which aimed at assisting refugee Burmese students, and led the Burmese Assistance Program, which was funded by the Soros Foundation and in part by USAID grants. His interests in distance and online learning led him to act as a Principal Investigator for Asynchronous Learning Network distance project in a University of Hawaii project funded by the Alfred Sloan Foundation. His interest in learning in all forms is shown by his experience as Dean of the Summer Session and later, became the first Dean of Outreach College when the summer session was merged with the College of Continuing Education. Professor Kobayashi has served as a consultant in the reorganization of summer session programs, including at SUNY Stony Brook, Stanford, Western Washington University and the University of Illinois at Chicago.

He has also contributed to fostering cross-cultural understanding by being one of the founders of the Hawaii International Film Festival, as the Principal Humanities Scholars in its early years, as well as serving on the executive committees of the University's Center for Japanese Studies and the Alliance Fránçaise, Hawai'i. He led the project to restore a historical building that became University's first museum, the John Young Museum of Art, with a fine collection primarily from Asia. He has been a member of the program committee for the Japan-America Society of Hawai'i. He has been a guest lecturer at many universities around the world, including numerous Japanese universities, Stockholm University, McGill University in Montreal, Canada, and the University of Virginia. Professor Kobayashi has studied various traditions and crafts in both Hawai'i and Japan, and is a practitioner of ceramics himself with pieces acquired by major art museums in Honolulu. He implemented several programs that nurtured cross-cultural discourse, including study abroad programs for the East-West Center and the National Education Association; and also produced several award-winning summer programs that celebrated the arts and culture of the peoples of Canada, Poland, Italy, Russia, Korea, Philippines, Japan, and of African Americans.

He also served as President for three different organizations, including the North American Association of Summer Sessions (1996) (which also appointed him as an honorary life member in 2006), The Association of University Summer Sessions, and the Comparative and International Education Society (2006).

Professor Kobayashi has published widely over 45 years in the fields of comparative education, educational technology, distance learning, and aesthetics (including a look at rituals, traditions and crafts). His diverse interests were drawn together in both his recent Presidential address to the Comparative and International Education Society and his 2006 interview, when he discussed scientific theories, history, cultural attitudes, philosophy and education, and called for a revolution in the concept of comparative education, namely one that relies on the interconnectedness of life as an education model.

Professor Kobayashi's contribution to research and education can be divided into several key components. An early focus was on the work of John Dewey and his effect on the education system in Japan. More than 20 of his publications have focused exclusively on Japan. In the late 1980s, Kobayashi began to publish about educational technology, a field to which he continues to contribute to with his most recent publication on the subject, "Year-Round College Instruction and Asynchronous Learning Network", developing from his work as Principal Investigator for the ALN grant. Professor Kobayashi has also published articles regarding traditional Japanese crafts, an interest that can be seen in his work as early as 1962 (The quest for experience: Zen, Dewey and education), throughout the 1980s (Tradition, Modernization and Education) up to his most recent contribution to the Encyclopedia of Modern Asia (2002) with his entry on "Japanese Ceramics". He has also presented papers and acted as moderator at many symposia and conferences. His devotion to his birthplace, the island of Maui and the Hawai'ian islands, is another theme that runs throughout his work: from Building a Rainbow, a book that investigates the history of the University of Hawai'i's buildings and their social context, to his use of Hawai'ian examples in much of his work; his love of Hawai'i fundamentally influenced his research and culminated in the islands hosting the 50th Anniversary Celebration Conference of CIES during his presidency.

His contributions to education, while diverse, have emphasized the development of East-West relations and the Pacific area.

Educational Background

B.Ed., University of Hawai'i, USA (1954)

Certificate in Meterology, UCLA, USA (1955)

M.Ed., University of Hawai'i, USA (1960)

Ph.D., University of Michigan, USA (1964). 
- Principal fields: philosophy of education; comparative education; Japanese educational history, John Dewey

Professional Background

Assistant Professor, School of Education, Center for Japanese Studies, University of Michigan (1964-1966)

Professor of Educational Foundations, University of Hawai'i at Mañoa (1966-2007)

Dean, University of Hawai'i at Mañoa's Summer Sessions (1985-1998), Outreach College (1998-2002)

Emeritus Professor of Educational Foundations, University of Hawai'i at Mañoa (2007 to present)

Affiliations (associations, organizations, institutions)

Comparative and International Education Society, President (2006); Vice-President (2004)

World Council of Comparative Education Societies, Executive Board member (2006-2008)

North American Association of Summer Sessions, President (1995-1996)

Association of University Summer Sessions, President (1994-1995)

Selected Publications

Kobayashi, Victor N. (2007). Recursive patterns that engage and disengage: Comparative Education, Research and Practice. Comparative Education Review, 51(3), 261-280.

Steiner-Khamsi, G. & Johnson, E. (2006) "Victor Kobayashi."


Created: 3/16/2008

Updated: 3/17/2008

Contributed By: Antonia Mandry, Teachers College, Columbia University