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Campus Now

Spring Verdure Issue (May)

SPECIAL REPORT

Waseda Next125 "Waseda Education" Grand Design

The fulfillment of an "Waseda Education" is an issue that is given particular importance within the mid- to long-term plan "Waseda Next 125", which was established in order to achieve the ideal future form of Waseda University.
This article will discuss the overall form of the future Waseda with a focus on the programs of the Open Education Center, which is one of the projects being promoted by the plan.

Part.1 - Interview

Waseda Education continues to evolve in order to contribute to the world

Katsuhiko Shirai
President of Waseda University

Development of professionals who can operate in global fields

When Waseda University greeted its 125th Anniversary in 2007, we established the goal of moving from a "past Waseda" to a "future Waseda", and to constructing the "future Waseda" as a global university with a focus on the Asia -Pacific Region. One of the pillars of this plan is the fulfillment of Waseda Education for the purpose of developing professionals who can contribute to the world.

The most important theme of Waseda Education is internationalization. In addition to the development of a system for admitting foreign exchange students, it is important to give Japanese students an opportunity for exchange by studying side-by-side with international students. By doing so, we will develop an educational environment for the formation of international perspectives and global networking.

Furthermore, through programs such as the Double Degree Program*, we are striving to become an open university with links to other domestic and overseas universities. In Europe the OECD and UNESCO are at the center of a movement to align the standards of all universities and to guarantee the quality of education. Doing so will allow students to travel between countries and study freely. Waseda is working to support these kinds of global movements. Lectures are already being given in English in the School of International and Liberal Studies, the School of Political Science and Economics, and the School of Science and Engineering, and internationalization is being advanced at our university. This trend is shared among all schools at Waseda.

Furthermore, in order to develop world-class researchers, it is necessary to practice in-depth analysis of matters beginning from the time as an undergraduate student. Recent students have begun to study more than before, but their efforts are still lacking when compared to foreign students. The ability to exercise originality in all types of work requires not only knowledge, but also the power to think and act independently. This is true even if the student does not become a researcher.

*An educational program based on overseas study at a foreign university. This program enables the student to graduate with a degree from Waseda University and a degree from the foreign university.

Support for the ability to study at a university and perform in society

The rate of students who enter university has risen to approximately 50% and universities are becoming institutions of the general public. However, there is a gap in the fundamental ability of students. University-wide fundamental education at Waseda University focuses on the acquirement of abilities needed to study at university, not on so-called basic academic skills. Specifically, we have prepared courses to strengthen the English ability needed to communicate with people throughout the world, the Japanese ability needed to write academic papers, and the mathematical ability useful in studying humanities such as social science. Writings papers and refining mathematical ability will result in strengthened logical thinking.

On the other hand, the major theme for undergraduate education is how the senior year will be spent. The search for employment begins from the end of the junior year. By the time they reach their senior year, many students have already found an employer and have acquired nearly all of the credits which they need to graduate. What should universities do in order to increase the ability of students and create added value in the final year of university education? Ideas include providing practical classes which will be useful after starting employment, as well as granting students with the opportunity of overseas experience in order to expand their horizons.

Examining a system to support a curriculum with a higher degree of freedom

The curriculum of each school is fixed. However, the Open Education Center has prepared over 3,000 courses which exceed the boundaries of each school. These courses enable students to fulfill their intellectual curiosity in whatever interests them or to obtain academic minors. Study in a wide cross-section of fields is stimulating for both students and faculty.

Another issue is the form of the semester system. In the current situation, it is difficult to travel between Japanese universities, where the school year begins in April, and overseas universities, where the school year usually begins in September. Also, even in the case of Waseda University, our course period is fixed as a 2-semester period, which makes it difficult to participate in overseas summer school. We are examining the implementation of systems such as a "quarter system (4-semester system)" which enables the intensive acquisition of credits. This will enable the efficient use of time, and will also enable activities such as students leaving Japan and studying overseas for periods of 2 to 3 months or half a year.

The greatest strength of Waseda is a rich and enjoyable student life

Actions have been taken to increase the various fields of specialty at each school while also supporting internationalization. In this way, Waseda provides fulfilling undergraduate school education. We are proud that our educational level and systems are the best among Japanese universities. In particular, even from overseas universities, our internationalization has received praise as "rising above all others". More than anything, the greatest appeal of Waseda is the energy which fills our campuses, the fellow students and faculty who provide stimulus, and the ability to experience of a rich and enjoyable student life. Waseda offers a balance between a tradition of respecting freedom and solid systems which guarantee the acquisition of knowledge.

Katsuhiko Shirai
President of Waseda University

Graduated from the Waseda University School of Science and Engineering, Department of Electrical Engineering in 1963. Completed the Master's Program and Doctorate Program of the Waseda University School of Science and Engineering. Received his Ph.D. in electrical engineering in 1973 (Waseda University). Assumed the position of Research Associate in the Waseda University School of Science and Engineering I in 1965, Assistant Instructor in 1968, Assistant Professor in 1970, and Professor in 1975. His field of specialty is intelligence science and technology. Assumed the position of President in 2002 after serving as Director of the Business Systems Center, Dean of Academic Affairs, Director of International Communication Center, and Vice-President of the university.