The Japan News by The Yomiuri Shimbun

Home > Campus Now > MISSION! Work of university: Early Spring Issue (Mar.)

Campus Now

Early Spring Issue (Mar.)

MISSION! Work of university

Introduction to various missions of teaching staff and new trends in Waseda University

Extension Center
The life-long learning center that offers the largest number of courses as a university in Japan

Open the results of the education/research to those who are willing to study

The Extension Center is a life-long learning center to widely open the intellectual properties of Waseda University to the public. It is supporting everyone who is willing to study. The Extension Center web-site

The forerunner of the Extension Center

Staff at the Waseda branch

Staff at the Hacchobori brach

The Extension Center of Waseda University (Director: Dr. Masao Iwai, Professor of Faculty of Political Science and Economics), was inaugurated in 1981 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Waseda University. It was aimed to extend the intellectual properties of the University to the public. Initially, the Center started at a small scale, consisting of about 40 courses in the business and cultural fields. It has been expanded and is now offering more than 1,400 courses per year in various fields such as “Soul of literature,” “Japanese history and culture,” “Knowing the world,” “World of art,” “Behavioral science,” “Life and health,” “Modern society and science,” “Business/qualification,” “Sports,” “Foreign languages,” and “Edo/Tokyo. It is the forerunner of the extension centers of other universities in Japan, and it offers the largest scale of programs. The Center is located in Waseda and Hacchobori.

The Extension Center consists of “open college,” which is the general term for the above courses, “overseas program,” “travel study,” and “e-learning” which enables the students to study anywhere at any time.

Waseda branch(Left) / Hacchobori branch(Right)

Furthermore, the Center offers its original credit system; with 76 credits, the students will be presented the “Open College Completion Certificate” by the University’s President at the Completion Ceremony in the Okuma Auditorium. By 2008, 1,244 students have completed the courses. There are also network organizations called “Toshikai” for those who completed the courses. Furthermore, they might be able to become the “Alumni nominated by Waseda University.”

Develop courses from the students’ point of view based on data analysis

A scene of a class

The Extension Center is operated by the Director, the Administrative Director and 8 full-time staff. Some of the businesses are outsourced to the Waseda University International Corporation. The voices from the students are the most important factors to develop and operate courses. At the end of every semester, a survey is conducted. Based on the survey data, the courses are reviewed and programs are developed to make utmost use of the limited number of classrooms. It is not an exaggeration that the list of the courses reflects the trend of the students’ interests. (Table below: The most popular courses, top 20)

Regarding the planning of the courses, the Director, Mr. Keizo Takahashi, said “the staff members are not the specialists of each field. However, by closely analyzing the data, we can develop the courses that correspond to the needs of the students. For your information, these days, the number of retired male students is increasing, and as a result, the courses such as the classic literature, history, and Buddhist art are increasingly popular.”

The most popular courses, top 20
Rank Field Name of the course · Name of the lecturer
1 Modern society “Double sides of politics, 2009 - revealing the truth of the power game” Tadaoki Nogami
2 Literature “Reading the Tale of Heike” Yuichi Otsu
3 Art “Japanese history for appreciating Buddha statue I- historical background behind the Buddhist art” Wakiko Morishita
4 World “The Japanese-Shino War and Japanese-Russhian War in the world history” Shinichi Kondo
5 History “Following the footsteps of Takauji Ashikaga” Noriyuki Takahashi
6 Literature “Lectures on Manyoshu (The Anthology of Ten Thousand Leaves)” Akira Naito
World “The world’s fundamental culture and languages - a journey to the Japanese, Asian and Celtic fundamental culture” Masayuki Ikeda and others
8 Literature “Ancient Japan through Kojiki (Record of Ancient Matters)” Masao Sugano
History “Reading the 'History of Lord Nobunaga’” Shin Hori
10 Qualification “Lectures for the exam for Certified social insurance labor consultant” Masao Akiho, Miwa Arai
11 Human science “Psychology to face yourself” Teizo Kato
Art “The 'soul’ and 'form’ of Buddhism - Manjusri-(morning class)” Makoto Yoshimura, Tetsufumi Muramatsu
13 History “The history of Showa - policy, thought, society, culture-“ Yoshimaru Sato
14 Human science “Reading the Buddhist texts - the world of Lotus Sutra (morning class)” Makoto Yoshimura
15 History “Japanese modern history - reading the era when Tokyo Professional College was established “regime change in 1881” Sumio Obinata
16 Art “Appreciating the Buddha statue II” Yuko Kobayashi
Human science “Understanding the history of religion in Japan through people and events - from Nanboku-cho period to Edo period” Akira Masaki
World “Pathway to the Asia Pacific War - from the Liutiaogou Incident to the Pearl Harbor” Hideo Kobayashi
Modern society “Understanding the universe - the latest space observation, the theory on the birth of the universe, and the future of the earth and human beings” Kenichiro Oki
General “Making classic music your life-long friend” Takeshi Nakano
We also support the students of Waseda University to obtain qualifications.

The trend analysis in the number of students suggests that the number of new students is slightly decreasing, although the number of existing students is increasing. As a result, the total number of students has not been changed. To improve this situation, we are making efforts to increase new students, in particular the young generation and students who have difficulties with commuting. One of such efforts is the opening of the e-learning. The e-learning program began with 3 courses in 2009. With a lot of positive responses, we are planning to offer 23 e-learning courses in 2010 (Please refer to “Information” below).

We are also exploring the possibility of expanding the courses to assist the students of Waseda University in obtaining qualifications and finding jobs. For those students, the courses at the Extension Center are relatively inexpensive. The Center is also in the convenient location for them to go between their classes or after their classes. By assisting the students of Waseda University, the Center can contribute to the overall mission of the University.

At the same time, it is a challenge of the Center to improve the quality of the entire program by, for example, opening courses to enable the students who have been taking courses for long time to learn more in-depth and more systematically. We will continuously strengthen our advantages as an extension center of a university and aim at becoming a life-long educational organization that satisfies the users from both soft and hard aspects.

Interview with a young staff member

Mr. Yokichi Nagao

The pamphlet and PR magazine “Waseda no mori”

Being proud of offering the course line-ups that satisfy anyone’s learning needs

-- What are you responsible for?
I am mainly responsible for developing courses in the fields of “Japanese history and culture,” “Knowing the world,” and “Modern society and science.” I am also responsible for the entire planning of the e-learning courses. Furthermore, I work on the development of the information pamphlets. It is as if making a course bulletin three times a year.

-- What are you focusing on when developing courses?
The students who have been taking courses for over 10 years are eager to study one subject systematically. For Japanese history courses, for example, an overview course, followed by the individual course to study each era in depth, may present those students their study pathway to satisfy their needs. I would like to develop courses, in consultation with the teachers, to make the students feel the best value of studying at Waseda. I am very satisfied with my job.

-- Please give a word to the reader.
There are no other University’s Extension Centers that offer so many courses. If you read the pamphlet, you will surely find something you are curious to learn!

“e-learning”; an opportunity to expand time and space to learn

Based on the key words, “anytime, anywhere, and many times,” a life-long learning opportunity is offered on-line. This is also a great opportunity for the parents to have “learning experience at Waseda.” Please check the details on our homepage and apply for the courses.

Application period
March 13 (Sat) to May 7 (Fri)
Course period
Approximately 2 months from May 17 (Mon)
How to apply
Please apply through the Center’s homepage.
Scheduled courses
  • Psychology to face yourself
  • Ideal of the founder of Waseda University
  • A training method to enhance business thinking
  • Economic analysis of university management
  • Introduction to Egyptian archaeology
  • Understanding the words of wisdom by philosophers based on daily logics
  • Greek mythology
  • Japanese history to appreciate Buddha statue
  • Others