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Spring Verdure Issue (May)


The possibility of "Open Courses" which enables study that exceeds school boundaries

The Open Education Center was established in order to keep pace with 21st century society by utilizing the features of our university to realize comprehensive and varied education that exceeds the boundaries of schools at our university. The center is one of the focal educational projects at Waseda University and its role continues to expand. This article explores the possibilities of the programs provided by the center.

Further expansion in the world of knowledge through Open Courses which are shared by the entire university
More than 3,000 choices

Waseda University is composed of a wide variety of educational and research institutions. The Open Education Center, which was established in December of 2000, has worked to developed projects that link "local fields" which possess the uniqueness of each school with "global projects" that encompass the entire university.

In addition to unique courses established by the Open Education Center, there are currently more than 3,000 Open Courses. These Open Courses are shared throughout the entire university and are provided through cooperation with each undergraduate school, graduate school and also with other universities. Any student from any school can enroll in the Open Courses, regardless of their academic year or major. The style of study is also extremely flexible. For example, socially-linked courses provide contact with society and enable students to develop abilities and perspectives that have practical application in society. Students are able to personally edit the "unit of knowledge" according to their curiosity and desire to study.

Acquiring an interdisciplinary approach

The courses provide an opportunity to acquire a broad range of education and to encounter themes which are relevant to the times. Students learn methods for applying a multifaceted approach to a single theme.

Deepening international understanding through your own senses

A wealth of field work conducted through overseas study is offered, including courses operated through a partnership with the Hirayama Ikuo Volunteer Center, Waseda University (WAVOC).

Acquirement of language ability with strong practical application

Programs for a variety of levels and goals have been opened in order to heighten international communication ability (click here for details). These courses are conducted as small group lessons, and contents have been expanded to include real-time seminars and classes held together with overseas institutions. Also, various courses for languages such as the Ainu language and the native language of Ireland offer a valuable opportunity to study languages which can only be studied in very few places in Japan.

Sparking the individuality of 40,000 students!
Theme studies (academic minors shared throughout the entire university) that develop "secondary strengths"

Themes study is a system in which students acquire an academic minor in addition to the major of their affiliated school.
What was the purpose of establishing the theme study system, and what are the merits to students? As an example of the system, we investigated two different theme studies and learned what kind of qualities the system seeks to instill in students through the study of those themes.
This article reports on Waseda University's system for developing "secondary strengths" through the cultivation of knowledge using strategic and systematic study by the individual among a variety of Open Courses.

Increasing the knowledge and abilities which form appealing individuals

Professor Osamu Soda, Faculty of Social Sciences
Associate Director of Open Education Center

A system which utilizes tradition and comprehensive strength

Theme study is a system which allows students to select one of 20 established courses as an academic minor. Students select and enroll in elective subjects and core (compulsory) subjects which are specified by each course. This allows students to study unique themes which are not constrained by existing academics. This system can be described as utilizing the tradition and comprehensive strength which is unique to Waseda University.

The goal for establishing theme study is to allow students to possess a "secondary strength" in addition to their academic major. When battling in society, the academic major can be considered as a "sword". In contrast, the academic minor fulfills the role of a "shield" that reinforces the strengths of that individual. Individuals who possess a large amount of various knowledge and abilities have a sense of composure and appeal.

The merit of selection of courses by students is that students are able to strategically construct their own "brand power" in society. After entering university, many students look over their own school and the entire university. These students develop an interest in a certain academic area and wish to engage in an in-depth study of that area. If students act upon this interest and participate in theme study, they will surely be judged differently when they enter society and are asked about their academic major at university. They will be seen as more proactive than students who simply took the required courses, and will be highly evaluated for their "earnest action in regard to academics".

As the origin of education

The origin of education is the combination of the professor's desire to teach and the student's desire to learn. Currently, there is a movement for voluntary development of courses among professors, and a wide variety of new academic fields are being created. I hope that students will join this trend and develop a more advanced type of knowledge. I also hope that more students will acquire a sense of scale as a human being and stride forth into society.

Professor Osamu Soda, Faculty of Social Sciences
Associate Director of Open Education Center

Graduated from the Waseda University School of Political Science and Economics. Received a Doctorate Degree from Waseda University Graduate School of Science and Engineering, major in Construction Engineering. Assumed the position of Professor in 2002 after serving as Research Associate at the Tokyo Metropolitan University Graduate School of Engineering and Faculty of Engineering and as Assistant Professor at the Waseda University School of Social Sciences. Specializes in urban planning and living environment theory. Doctor of Construction Engineering.

PickUP! 1 Example Case of Theme Study: Peace Studies

Experience in "moving reality" through field work internships

Professor Hidetoshi Taga
Faculty of Social Sciences

Peace is the absence of war-Professor Taga refutes this conventional image. "Consider the statements of Indian scholars. Although there is no war in India, there is the actuality of people falling dead on the side of the road due to poverty. This cannot be called peace, even if there is no war. The opposite of peace is "peacelessness", which is the state of no peace.

Peace Studies emphasizes field work performed onsite. The objective of the course is for students to acquire a broad perspective by understanding the realities of the world. (Scene from field work in Chiang Mai, Thailand.)

Peace Studies is an academic field which scientifically verifies and realizes the conditions for peace. The form of true peace is understood by considering the correlation of various issues such as poverty, the environment, gender and human rights. Since his 20s, Professor Taga has witnessed the harsh reality of child labor, discrimination, regional conflicts, slums and refugee camps in countries around the world. "Field work is an essential part of Peace Studies. I hope that students will see the realities of the world while they are young. In the case of classes specified for theme studies, it is possible to include internship field work in addition to lectures and exercises, thus creating courses which are composed of three parts. This is the perfect system for Peace Studies".

Last year, a wide variety of field work was performed, including onsite field work in areas such as cross-border labor, development, and environmental protection. Also, a bazaar was held to procure funds for international cooperation. "Only 3 or 4 people out of 100 have the opportunity to go to university in this world. University life is a precious experience, so I truly hope that students will experience "moving reality" through field work. If a person understands that "the realities of this world can be changed", then that person will not become the type of individual who only considers matters that occur within a 15 foot radius of oneself. The person will be able to acquire a richer sensibility."

Professor Hidetoshi Taga
Faculty of Social Sciences

Gradated from the Waseda University School of Law. Received his Doctorate Degree from the Waseda University Graduate School of Law. Assumed his current position in 1996 after serving as Professor at the Niigata University School of Law. In addition to his activities in the PKO Survey of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and in the Nepal National Election International Election Observation Group, he is also active in the support of homeless children.

Student Voice The Meaning of Studying an Academic Minor
What are we capable of doing? The desire to study practical Peace Studies.

Ai Kaneko, 4th Year Student
School of Social Sciences

"I want to study something international." I had this vague intention when I entered university, and the course that I encountered was Peace Studies. Peace Studies is an appealing course because it allows students to study a variety of fields from an international perspective. Theme study contains courses in both theory and onsite, hands-on experience. I believe that this is a positive course structure because it allows for balanced and varied study of Peace Studies, a field which cannot be simply expressed or understood.

Up until this point, I have enrolled in more than 10 courses. The course which left me with the greatest impression was traveling to Thailand to perform surveys and training. I participated in this field work last year as an internship. Together with students from Chiang Mai University, I participated in onsite study regarding ethnic groups and environmental problems. Since I live in the island-nation of Japan, standing on an international border for the first time in my life was a moving experience that I will never forget. I felt the tension of a fence towering on a quiet, nondescript mountainside. In addition to the theme of the field work, I was able to experience and learn about the environment and culture of Thailand. This kind of learning was made possible by going onsite, and I could never have learned these things in a classroom.

In the future, I hope to use what I have learned until now to consider what I am capable of doing, and to study an even more practical type of Peace Studies.

PickUP! 2 Example Case of Theme Study: Strategic Environment Studies

Study of the environment leads to consideration of how human beings should live in society

Professor Tokuhisa Yoshida
Faculty of Science and Engineering
Graduate School of Environment & Energy Engineering

Professor Shinichi Tomonari
Faculty of Science and Engineering
Graduate School of Environment & Energy Engineering

The phrase "environmental issues" is heard every day and is the most important theme for people living in modern society. However, there are an unlimited number of ways to comprehend these issues. Even in the case of global warming, which is the issue that is given the most attention, a variety of scientific, political, and economic approaches are required.

Professor Tokuhisa Yoshida expresses the theme of environment as follows:

"The theme of "environment" possesses many multi-faceted elements. Similar to the vastness of an ocean, you will certainly become lost if you begin rowing without a plan. However, a safe ocean voyage is possible if, after taking a comprehensive look at navigational charts, you decide where you want to go (what you want to know) and acquire the necessary navigational skills (course of research). At Waseda, professors with expertise in a wide variety of specialized fields instill students with navigational skills through lectures and seminar-style courses. Also, although conclusions have not been reached for most environmental issues, we provide direction for the research of students by giving instruction regarding the debates of our predecessors."

"Environmental Management": Student presentations during class.

Furthermore, Professor Tomonari points out that environmental study has great depth and does not end with merely understanding environmental issues.

"Environmental issues are one type of social issue. However, conversely, it can also be said that many social issues are exhibited in the phenomena of environmental issues. Therefore, environmental study provides an opening for studying fields such as economics, politics, and foreign relations. As an end result, environmental study leads to the consideration of how human beings should live."

Both professors hope that students use the knowledge acquired through environmental studies in a variety of positions after graduation, and that students apply the knowledge to the creation of a new society.

Professor Tokuhisa Yoshida
Faculty of Science and Engineering
Graduate School of Environment & Energy Engineering

Graduated from the Department of Earth & Planetary Physics at the University of Tokyo School of Science. Received his Master's Degree from the Department of Earth & Planetary Physics at the University of Tokyo Graduate School of Science. Assumed his current position in 2007 after serving as Director of the Water Environment Department in the Environmental Management Bureau of the Ministry of the Environment. In addition to serving as the Waseda University internal coordinator for the Integrated Research System for Sustainability Science (IR3S), he performs research related to the analysis of social backgrounds in the development of environmental policies of both national and regional public groups.

Professor Shinichi Tomonari
Faculty of Science and Engineering
Graduate School of Environment & Energy Engineering

Completed courses at the Kyoto University Graduate School of Engineering. Entered the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (currently the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry). Served as Director of the Russian & Eastern European Office of the Ministry of International Trade and Industry and as Planning Officer at the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism. Assumed his current position in 2007. Uses energy Performs research which uses energy policy, global environmental policy, regional management, governmental management, personal management and project management , and which is related to development for energy and environmental project sites.

Student Voice The Meaning of Studying an Academic Minor
Determining one's own field and recognizing one's role

Koichiro Yoshimi, 4th Year Student
School of Science and Engineering

By studying within the program of the theme study entitled "Strategic Environment Studies", I learned that it is vital to possess one's own strength and field of expertise when confronting environmental issues.

Even before entering university, I had hoped to work in the field of environmental issues in the future. I had also hoped to study a variety of environmental issues at university. However, the subjects studied at my affiliated department were related to environmental theory and technology, not to environmental issues as social issues. At the time, I wanted to acquire a wider range of knowledge without being restricted to a single field, and I chose to participate in the program of "Strategic Environment Studies".

However, my impression upon enrolling in the program was that environmental studies are of such great breadth that a single person could never study all different elements. At that time, I understood that, in order to confront environmental issues, it is vital to determine one's own field and to clearly recognize one's own role. Also, I learned that by doing so, it actually becomes easier to interact with other fields of environmental issues.

Currently, from within a number of different fields, my interest currently lies in the field of meteorology. Next year, I hope to enter graduate school and acquire solid skills, and then to use those skills as a base for acquiring broader knowledge. I then hope to utilize this knowledge in the resolution of environmental issues.