Ross Mouer BA ’66
As the Lewis & Clark overseas study program celebrates its 50th year, six alumni reflect on their life-changing journeys. Learn more about Ross Mouer BA ’66 below and then browse other alumni stories.
From: Escalon, California
Overseas Program: Japan, 1962
Currently: Professor of Industrial Sociology, Meiji University, Japan
Ross Mouer embarked on his Lewis & Clark College education by boarding a steamer ship bound for Yokohama, Japan, in the fall of 1962. It was a maiden voyage both for the college’s new overseas study program and for Ross, a newly enrolled first-year student who had yet to set foot on Palatine Hill. “The administration felt that if students were going to have a major experience overseas that would affect their life choices, they might as well have it early on,” he recalls. And aside from early bouts of seasickness, he says, “it was a very stimulating way to start my education.”
It made me see America more in a global context rather than as the center of the universe.
Ross grew up in a small farming community in the shadow of World War II. “As a child, I somehow knew that Japan had been a bitter enemy,” he recalls. But by the mid-1950s, he started seeing members of his church hosting U.S.-sponsored Japanese visitors—farmers who had come to learn about American agricultural methods. “Now all of a sudden, we had these very affable Japanese visitors,” he remembers. “It was confusing, but such ironies sparked my curiosity.”
In Japan, Ross explored a country still recovering from the wreckage of war. “What I remember most is the kindness of a people who, only two decades earlier, had visited considerable violence on many parts of Asia,” says Ross. “It gave me a broader view of humanity. I came home realizing the Japanese were in many ways not so different from Americans. Whether you eat with chopsticks or you eat with a fork, there really isn’t a significant difference.”
It gave me a broader view of humanity.
Ross’s interest in Japan continued for the next 50 years. He graduated from Lewis & Clark with a major in international affairs and earned advanced degrees at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy in Boston. Along the way, he studied Japanese at Harvard and was awarded a full scholarship to complete his PhD research at Japan’s prestigious Keio University. After a 35-year career in Australia, he retired in 2010 as the professor of Japanese studies at Monash University. He was then offered a position at Meiji University in Tokyo, where he currently teaches about work and economic organization in Japan and about social change in Asia.
“My first experience in Japan made me a more thinking American,” says Ross. “It made me see America more in a global context rather than as the center of the universe, and it helped me realize that societies are increasingly grappling with similar sets of issues as globalization proceeds. My Lewis & Clark education opened my eyes to these ideas, and for that, I’m very grateful.”
Read about how other alumni were influenced by their overseas experiences:
Overseas Program: India, 2001
Overseas Program: Israel, 1980
Overseas Program: London, 1992
Overseas Program: Denmark/Greenland, 1983
Overseas Program: East Africa, 1998