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Campus Now

New Year Issue (Jan.)


Creating Connections with Citizens
University Social Partnerships
-Creating New Value-


Connecting society and the knowledge of Waseda in a win-win relationship.

We discussed the current situation and issues of university social partnerships with Executive Director Kunio Taniguchi, who also serves as Social Partnership Manager.

A new type of social partnership was seen when revising the form of Waseda University

-- What is the objective and meaning of a university's work in social partnerships?

One of the fundamental roles of a university is to educate students and have students enter society. In Japan, the population of 18 year olds reached a peak in 1992 and has been decreasing ever since. There has also been a change in society's requests and expectations towards universities. There has been accelerated globalization in business and a variety of other fields, and a high level of operation is expected from the educational and research activities which form the basis of Japan's international competitive strength. There has been a change in which the form of university education is subject to fundamental questioning, and I believe that this change has created the need for partnerships and cooperation between universities.

When examining trends in the rest of the world, it can be seen that consortiums were formed between universities in America since the 1980s. Partnerships between universities began from the mutual use of each other's facilities. In Japan, university partnerships started in the later 1990s with the objective of enhancing curriculums. Since the 2001 academic year, Waseda University has cooperated with 4 nearby universities to establish "f-Campus", which is a system for the interchanging of academic credit.

Furthermore, in the case of educational programs for students, internships became widely implemented beginning from the late 1990s. Academic credit has also started to be given for volunteer activities. In the past, universities were evaluated on the basis of academic education and research. However, in addition to these conventional values, universities are currently expected to use social experience to develop professionals who are capable of independent thought, action, and problem resolution. One of the strengths of social contribution at universities is found in how benefits are created for society from the results of learning that is conducted through the corporations and communities which constitute actual society. From this perspective, it is necessary to construct new systems in which the academic strength of universities exists together with society.

In 1996, the External Relations Liaison Office, which is the predecessor of the Development of University-Local Relations Liaison Office, was established at Waseda University. At that time, I was the Chief of the section, and our main activity was to support faculty teaching the arts. Faculty teaching the arts had difficulty acquiring grants from agencies such as the MITI (Ministry of International Trade and Industry) and the MPT (Ministry of Posts and Telecommunication) except the MEXT (Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology). They also had difficult acquiring research funding when compared to faculty teaching in science and engineering fields. Currently, the Development of University-Local Relations Liaison Office consolidates social partnerships activities implemented by various sections inside of our university. The office also exists as a contact point for external agencies, functioning as a catalyst for connecting faculty with corporations and government agencies.

The university working as a whole to establish a broad contact point open to society will lead to approaches conducted by individual faculty and on the level of individual sites becoming an effort for social partnership developed by Waseda University. This will create the increased possibility of point activities conducted in each area of our university developing into line or planes.

Through the Waseda spirit of enterprise, moving towards a university that exists together with society

-- What are the features of Waseda University's social partnership?

Waseda University has defined the goal of social partnership as follows: "Connect the resources which is 'knowledge' of our university, with society (administration, corporations and communities of national and municipal government; other educational institutions; foreign countries and regions) and produce new value through a win-win relationship." As long as the merit of usefulness to the education and research of students exists, a variety of partnerships are possible.

Since long ago, Waseda University has been known as a university accessible to the public and open to society. During the Meiji Period, Waseda University created a record of lectures and provided the education of our university to all people with a desire to study throughout the country. Conversely, although Waseda used to be a national-scale university which attracted many students from other regions of Japan, nearly 70% of our current student body is from the Tokyo metropolitan area. Waseda presence in areas outside of Tokyo has weakened. In order to become a university that receives the support and expectations of people throughout Japan, it is necessary to show in concrete form that our university exists together with society.

Features of Waseda University's social partnership include the presence of partners throughout the country and a rich variety of activities (refer to diagram). At the same time that we operate partnership projects with global corporations like Nissan Motor Corporation, we also operate projects with small regional villages. Furthermore, we are currently advance projects to connect the management of small and mid-sized corporations in Sumida Ward and Nakano Ward. Waseda University has always possessed an enterprising spirit of actively embracing new challenges, and we are conducting support for a wide range of efforts.

Making university-society partnerships into a natural part of university activities

-- What issues does Waseda University face as it works to further advance social partnerships?

One issue is the necessity to expand the foundations of activities through measures such as personnel exchange with partners. The key point regarding this issue is the coordination ability of staff in terms of understanding and mobilizing onsite operations. The faculty of our university is extremely busy. In order to ensure that faculty participates in efforts for social partnership, it is essential to develop coordinators who are responsible for planning and adjustment.

Currently, in projects such as professional workshops, young staff members recruited through open application form teams and cooperate with faculty in order to support students. Although we perform basic training for the development of coordination abilities, the ability of staff is also strengthened through actual experience. Staff members have the opportunity to interact with students and engage in new, rewarding work. In order to become a university which possesses a presence in society, each member of our staff must exercise their abilities on a lever that is higher than before.

Another issue that we face is increasing the opportunities for more students, faculty, and staff to have associations with society. Also, we must create the impetus for the birth of successive projects. It is essential that we create an environment in which many projects are born, in which there is mutual sharing of know-how within organizations, and in which social partnerships are incorporate into educational and research activities. A long period of time will be required for these kinds of activities by Waseda University to increase their presence in the world. For this reason, it is vital that we continue our activities.

Furthermore, when considering the fact that society is built upon relationships with people, I believe that there are many methods for benefiting society not only through technology, but also through the resources of humanities and social science possessed by Waseda University. If that is possible, then we may be able to contribute to intimate and flexible development that differs from the conventional form of development which is concerned only with expansion.

-- What is the form of the social partnership that Waseda University seeks to establish?

In my opinion, that form is the increased openness of universities which were known as "ivory towers" in the past, and the establishment of efforts for social partnerships as a natural part of university activities. Even if funding does not exist, a great number of accomplishments are possible through knowledge and effort. I believe that the relationship between universities and society will continue to change and expand even more in the future.

Mr. Kunio Taniguchi / Waseda University Executive Director

Entered employment as staff at Waseda University immediately upon graduating from the Waseda University School of Letters, Arts and Sciences I. In 1994, received his Master's Degree from the Boston University Graduate School of Education. Served as Administrative Director at the International Affairs Division, Academic Affairs Division and Cultural Promotion Division, and as Director of the Development of University-Local Relations Liaison Office. Assumed the position of General Director from December of 2009. Has served as Executive Director since 2008 (continues to hold the position today).