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Campus Now

Early Spring Issue (Apr. 2013)


Cultivating global leaders active in the community

Happy relationships between university and the community

“Waseda Vision 150” is a mid-and-long-term plan which defines the ideal form of Waseda University in 2032, the year of our 150th anniversary. The global leaders who are described in this vision are not limited to overseas professionals; rather, they include professionals who return to their hometown, using their global perspective and sensibility for the good of the community. Cultivating such global leaders will further deepen the partnership between our university and the community. We will explore what Waseda University can do to construct a brighter future for our planet.

Learning through fieldwork

Cultivating global leaders active in the community

We spoke with 3 professors who utilize fieldwork to cultivate global leaders while cooperating with the community. The professors discussed the feeling with which they conduct classes, as well as how Waseda education and their personal research contribute to community invigoration.

Face-to-face with “living education” provided by communities
Understanding diversity in each community

“Seminar in geography IB (subject for human geography)”
Professor Kenji Hashimoto (Faculty of Education and Integrated Arts and Sciences)

Human geography is an academic field which logically examines regional differences in human activities such as society, economics and culture. Every year from summer vacation until autumn, students enter a certain regional city to conduct observation, as well as to conduct fieldwork consisting mainly of hearings and questionnaires for local citizens. Based on the results of fieldwork, students provide feedback to the community in the form of information sessions and reports. For Waseda University and our faculty, having students come face-to-face with the “living education” provided by communities creates a “learning opportunity” for first-hand experience with the characteristics, resources and problems of a community. In the mid- to long-term period, we expect personal networks between students and local citizens to continue even after graduation and lead to long-lasting interaction.

Visiting the Togoshi Ginza Ginroku-kai Shopping District (Shinagawa Ward, Tokyo) in January 2013. Students interview Chairperson Kamei.

During practical exercises, I try to create opportunities for small groups of students to interact with local citizens. One example is a program in which students lodge at private homes. By experiencing a one-on-one exchange of opinions based on their position as a Waseda student, not only do students acquire information, they also develop an awareness of how to return acquired information to the community and individuals who have assisted them. The community becomes stimulated and makes new discoveries through the activities and ideas of students who are true “outsiders,” unfettered by any stake in the community.

In this way, it is important for students to consider the invigoration of regional economies and to understand the “diversity of communities.” Furthermore, in regions where local specialties are being established as brands, it is not unusual for there to be conflicting interests between farmers and processors. It is important to develop targets and strategies which allow both parties to coexist. Today, there is increasing awareness regarding the disparity between communities. It is not sufficient to merely copy the example of successful communities. Instead, it is important to understand the characteristics and resources of a community, as well as diversity such as differences in the competitive environment. We must discover new resources and construct goals for coexistence which exceeds individual interests. Such problem-solving ability is also useful on the global stage.

In the future, I hope to establish a fieldwork survey program which utilizes the specialties and uniqueness of geography. I also hope to realize collaboration between students from research fields with different specialties in order to start an inter-field exchange survey in a certain community.

Fieldwork in Hamamatsu City, Shizuoka Prefecture. Students travel throughout the region, speak with local citizens and return acquired information to the community in the form of an on-site briefing session.

Accumulating experience through direct contact with agriculture and farming villages
Cultivating professionals who can perform in society

“Seminar I (Regional resource theory)”
Professor Masayuki Kashiwa (Faculty of Human Sciences)

It may be difficult to understand what is meant by “regional resource theory.” In terms of conventional fields, it is related to “agricultural economics.” In addition to learning theory in the seminar, students survey the significance and limitations of advanced practical efforts for breaking through bottlenecks of Japanese agriculture. Specifically, importance is given to the form of reconstruction for management systems of regional agricultural management and regional resources (farmland, water, etc.).

By surveying actual conditions, students discover the difficulty and appeal of agriculture, especially land-extensive farming such as paddy field agriculture. Such an understanding cannot be acquired simply through studying economic theory. This is the appeal of surveying actual conditions. Together with students, faculty studies the most advanced conditions of a community. In addition, based on the accumulation of diverse knowledge, we also cooperate with local citizens to consider the form of solutions for problems in the community. A partnership with the community is essential for such activities, which cannot be conducted without a relationship of mutual trust that spans many years.

By struggling with the gap between an image of agriculture gained from economic theory and the actual conditions of regional agriculture, students discover the difficulty and appeal of agriculture issues. When conducting surveys, sufficient preparation is possible by using past survey results and diverse sources of information. Therefore, half of survey work is not obtaining specific information; rather it is holding serious discussion with managers who are subjects of the survey. This aspect is extremely important.

For example, when examining debate regarding TPP, much of the argument is abstract and ungrounded. I expect students to use their young sensibility to accumulate experience through direct contact with agriculture and farming villages. I hope that they will grow into professionals involved in the revitalization of agriculture and farming villages, or in the design of policy or systems. Although there is no school of agriculture at Waseda University, I intend to enhance my seminar while deepening collaboration with organizations within our school and outside entities including overseas centers.

In Nanto City, Toyama Prefecture, a joint survey was performed with city employees and 3rd-sector parties which protect regional agriculture

Students survey social corporations in the Kushiike region of Joetsu City, Niigata Prefecture.

Solving regional problems through agriculture

“Honjo Waseda-no-Mori Agriculture Project”
Professor Takahiro Ōno (Faculty of Science and Engineering; Dean of Academic Affairs)

The “Honjo Waseda-no-Mori” Agriculture Project consists of fieldwork performed in Misato Town, Kodama County and Honjo City, Saitama Prefecture, which is the site of the Honjo Campus. Despite being blessed with rich land appropriate for agriculture, the agricultural projects of Honjo City have failed to reach a national level. The city also faces a variety of other problems related to agriculture. Waseda University considers agriculture and food as important themes in future education and research, so we started the Honjo Waseda-no-Mori Agriculture Project as a first step. In the project, students learn about regional issues through first-hand agricultural experience and then propose solutions.

Previously, Waseda University had conducted professional workshops which sought to solve corporate problems through cooperation between our university students and corporate employees. However, when working with major corporations, students were faced with a vast manufacturing system and were limited in their assessment of the overall image. This resulted in only partial involvement. In the case of agriculture, students can obtain comprehensive understanding by helping with agriculture work for half a year. Therefore, I expect that students will be able to engage in problem-solving with a stronger sense of ownership. In 2012, I recruited students under the theme of “Let’s Propose an Image Strategy Plan for Establishing an Agricultural Brand!!” 10 students participated in activities which included classes on brand theory, a total of 4 practical exercises in agriculture (1-night, 2-day exercises), briefing sessions given to local citizens, and actual sales activities.

Through this involvement in regional agriculture, participating students gained understanding for a variety of problems. Furthermore, it seems that students seek to accomplish more than what was possible within a single year of activities. “I would like to participate again in 2013.” “I hope that we can set our own theme next year.”—Statements like these show the passion of students regarding these activities. Students travel onsite, work together to overcome a variety of barriers, and work to solve problems in the community. Upon seeing this effort from students, I strongly felt that this project has grown into an effective activity for the cultivation of global leaders as sought by Waseda.

Students conduct a questionnaire survey while participating in a “local production for local consumption” event in Honjo City

Students making soba (buckwheat) noodles under instruction from local citizens

Experiencing agricultural logistics by participating in shipping