Our Curriculum

Our curriculum links over 50 years of experience with the current needs of rural communities around the world. 

It is a powerful selection of topics that broadens the range of each participant’s skills and knowledge. 

In combination with a strong value base, it helps participants develop new learning and new answers for years to come.

What Participants Learn

All our classes stand on the three educational pillars of the Rural Leaders Training Program:
Servant Leadership, Sustainable Agriculture, and Community of Learning. 

1: Servant Leadership

Participants learn the importance of being a leader as one who works at the level of the people and lives a life that inspires others to unfold their potential. They strengthen qualities like self-awareness, willingness to learn, and listening to others. The examples of leaders such as Shôzo Tanaka help them form new  attitudes toward ethical leadership, but they also see it in the ARI staff.

Participants improve their organizational strengths such as planning, facilitation, listening, coaching and conflict management. Their abilities to communicate and empathize with others is especially challenged.

2: Sustainable Agriculture

Can organic farmers compete with industrial farmers? What are the principles of sustainable farming? These questions come up in participants’ discussions. During many classroom lectures, discussions, and observation trips, they get to see different models of farming and gain deeper insight of how food is related to broader social and economic issues. 

In all of this, ARI’s concept of Foodlife enlightens participants’ understanding of Sustainable Agriculture. Every day, they practice integrated farming, making and using organic fertilizer, managing pests with local materials, and using appropriate technologies to protect the ecological system of the living soil for future generations and have ownership over their Foodlife.

3: Community of Learning

In classes dealing with current issues like localization, gender justice, and climate change, participants discuss meaningful development: What do rural communities truly need in order to prosper? How do we deal with cultural or social differences? Whose voice counts in the community?

ARI’s own Community of Learning is the experimental space in which participants struggle to achieve this ‘living together.’ Through group study, personal reflection, and opening their minds to other members, they examine what an ideal community might look like. Lecturers, who are active in citizen groups or research, stimulate the participants’ discovery process. At the end of the training, they have better tools to analyze their home communities’ root problems and resources.

Classes & Topics

Within the 9 months training, participants attend a highly diverse range of classes and topics. Here are some highlights:

Educational Values & Concepts

Like everything else at ARI, the curriculum is built on our powerful key concepts and core values. We hold these as crucial to fulfill our mission, to build an environmentally healthy, just and peaceful world

Like everything else at ARI, the curriculum is built on our powerful key concepts and core values. We hold these as crucial to fulfill our mission, to build an environmentally healthy, just and peaceful world

Lecture List

Over 1,760 Hours of Learning


Leadership & Servant Leadership
ARI History and Mission
Participatory Learning and Action
Independent Learning
Time Management
Presentation Skills
Facilitation Skills
Religion and Rural Life
Report Writing

Sustainable Agriculture

Organic Farming
Crops and Vegetables
Disease Control of Crops and Vegetables
Disease Control of Livestock
Dangers of Chemical Farming
Natural Farming in Tropical Areas
Alternative Marketing Systems

Development Issues

Environment and Development
Nutrition and Development
Credit Union
Gender Issues
Ashio Copper Mine & Shôzô Tanaka
Climate Change Challenge
Nasu Canal and Rural Development

Practical Field Study
Crops & Vegetables Emphasis: Bokashi fertilizer making, compost making, collection and utilization of Indigenous Microorganisms, fermented plant juice, fish amino acid, water-soluble Calcium, water-soluble Calcium and Phosphate, wood vinegar, charcoal making, rice husk charcoal, seed collection, seedling nursing using soil blocks, mushroom cultivation

Livestock Emphasis: Pigs (artificial insemination, delivery, castration), Chicken (brooding, hatching), Fish, livestock health, feed formulation, fermented feed, animal raising with fermented floor

Meat Processing: Sausage and ham making

Field Management Activities

Group management of crops and vegetables field and livestock

Foodlife Work (Foodlife-related activities for self- sufficiency)

Group leadership system


Community work (rice transplanting, rice harvesting, forest management, etc.), community event, spiritual nurture and guidance (Morning Gathering, consultation, reflection day, reflection paper), oral presentation, Harvest Thanksgiving Celebration

International fellowship program, observation trips, Rural Community Study Tour, Western Japan Study Tour, homestay programs, church fellowship programs

Intensive Japanese language class, Japanese culture

For more information on the Curriculum of the Rural Leadership Training Program, click here: The Curriculum of ARI Rural Leader Training Program 

Daily Schedule

Monday – Friday

06:30 Assemble for morning exercise and prayer
06:35 Cleaning the campus
07:00 Morning Foodlife Work
08:15 Breakfast and break
09:30 Morning Gathering
10:20 Main activities of the day (farm work , lectures, observation, etc.)

12:30 Lunch and break
01:30 Main activities
03:30 Independent Learning Hour
05:00 Evening Foodlife Work
06:00 Free time
06:30 Supper


06:30 Assemble for morning exercise and prayer
06:35 Cleaning the campus
07:00 Morning Foodlife Work
08:00 Breakfast 

12:30 Lunch
18:30 Supper


08:00 Breakfast 

18:30 Supper

On Saturday and Sunday, there are no main activities, but you can join other people’s activities, take a rest and participate in Foodlife work. On Sundays, you may visit local churches in the morning. Lunch is not provided on Sunday .

Get Leadership Training

Do you want to send a member from your organization to our training? Our program can greatly enhance the capacities of your key leaders.

We will help you on every step of the process.

our Students

Our students come from the most marginalized communities on Earth. They need financial support to come to Japan and take part in the Rural Leaders Training Program.

Your assistance can help rural communities for decades to come!

Download the
School Guide

School Guide

A great overview of ARI and our Rural Leaders Training Program.