Dean and Professor, Graduate School of Asia-Pacific Studies, Waseda University
At the 30-year anniversary ceremony of the founding of Waseda University in 1912, founder Shigenobu Okuma announced the fundamental tenets of the university philosophy: “Waseda University shall strive to contribute to the advancement of global knowledge,” and “Waseda University shall foster the development of students who will impact the world through their actions.” He further declared “We must not only seek progress for the sake of ourselves, our families and our country, but aspire to contribute to the world at large” and “Achieving world peace is our final and greatest purpose.” Considering the inescapable focus on Japan’s rise as a modern nation-state at the time, Waseda University’s strong conviction toward “contributing to the world” through research and education was truly groundbreaking.
In his book “Harmony of the Eastern and Western Civilizations (Tozai Bunmei no Chouwa)” published in 1922, Okuma expresses his determination to promote the creation of a peaceful and harmonious society through dialogue and mutual understanding among civilizations: “Japan stands at the nexus of Eastern and Western civilizations. Our ideal as a peace-maker is to bring Eastern civilization in parallel with the advanced civilization of the West.” Okuma had the grand vision and resolution to build a country uniting the East and West, with Waseda University as the intellectual core. It is upon this foundation that Waseda has evolved as a university striving to make global contributions through research and education, open not only to Japan but to the world.
Waseda University has particularly long-standing relationships with countries in the Asia-Pacific. As early as two years following the university’s foundation in 1882, Waseda began accepting international students from the Korean Peninsula and in 1905 established a department for international students from the Qing Dynasty (later to become the People’s Republic of China). Waseda University has dispatched countless leaders to Asia and other countries across the globe.
The Graduate School of Asia-Pacific Studies (GSAPS) was established in 1998 with the aim of further solidifying Waseda’s historical and philosophical role as an intellectual hub for the advancement of peace amongst civilizations. As a basic philosophy GSAPS aims “To pursue academic research that balances global and regional perspectives in addressing the range of historical, political, economic, industrial, social, and cultural issues arising among and across the nations of the Asia-Pacific region; and To cultivate future professionals who are experts in their fields and who can apply their advanced training and knowledge to contribute broadly to improving the living standards and social conditions of individuals around the world.” In the 22 years since its establishment, GSAPS has welcomed students from over 50 countries, graduated over 3000 master’s degree students and over 300 doctoral students. These graduates are active contributors to global society in a wide range of fields including government, business, civil society, universities, research institutions and international organizations.
Further, GSAPS has numerous institutional partnerships with universities across the globe and actively pursues international collaborative education efforts. GSAPS has partnerships with graduate schools of international relations such as the George Washington University Elliot School (USA), London School of Economics and Political Science Department of International Relations (UK), Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva (Switzerland), Hertie School of Governance (Germany), Seoul National University Graduate School of International Studies (Korea) and Chulalongkorn University Faculty of Political Science (Thailand) and actively promotes student and research exchange with these partners. Moreover, double-degree programs have been established with the Peking University School of International Studies (China) and Universite Libre de Bruxelles Institute for European Studies (Belgium). The East Asian University Institute (EAUI) Program, developed and managed by Korea University, Nanyang Technological University (Singapore), Peking University and Thammasat University (Thailand) in collaboration with GSAPS aims to deepen regional integration and cooperation in the Asian region by fostering student development through semester exchanges, summer school and seminars.
To support the advancement of such international programming, GSAPS has earned substantial external funding through many programs including the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) Global Centers of Excellence Program for the establishment of the Global Institute for Asian Regional Integration (2008-2011) and the Inter-University Exchange Project for the establishment of the East Asian University Institute (EAUI) for Asian Regional Integration (2011-2016). Currently, GSAPS has been selected for the MEXT International Priority Graduate Program (2017-2022), the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) Development Studies Program (2018-) and JICA’s project to establish a Master of Global Leadership at Vietnam Japan University (2019-).
The Asia-Pacific region has developed rapidly over the past quarter century, becoming a driving force behind the global economy. This new status has also raised expectations for the region to further contribute and play an increasingly prominent role in global society. Yet many of the global issues that we face today transcend borders and cannot be solved within the framework of individual nation-states. Poverty, environmental degradation, infectious disease, educational disparities and immigrant and refugee crises are among the global issues facing not only the Asia-Pacific but the world at large. Recognizing the urgency of these issues, the global community has formulated and embraced the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a common vision for solving the challenges we collectively face as living beings. Considering the current global environment, GSAPS aims to transcend the boundaries of traditional academic disciplines, harnessing the diversity and potential of the Asia-Pacific through comprehensive interdisciplinary education and research, nurturing globally competent individuals who will contribute to solving these global issues.
Yet who concretely is this “globally competent individual” that GSAPS aims to nurture? I believe that such an individual embraces and embodies the “Three C’s.” The first C is Competitiveness. The forces of globalization have redefined the standards by which talent is evaluated in the global arena, and it is necessary for our graduates to demonstrate high-level expertise and communication skills to compete at the global level. The second C is Cooperativeness. To contribute globally individuals must also be able to collaborate and coexist in today’s culturally diverse global society. Thus, our graduates must not only be competitive but also exhibit leadership in cooperating with others, demonstrating a high degree of tolerance and acceptance of multiple viewpoints and an ability to assert one’s opinion with patience and understanding. Finally, the most important C is Contribution. Students must ultimately have the desire to apply both their global competencies and cooperative ability to solving global issues, helping to realize peace and prosperity worldwide. This commitment to building a better future is precisely the kind of societal contribution that Shigenobu Okuma so strongly aspired toward.
Studying at GSAPS is the first step toward developing the Three C’s. At GSAPS, international students and Japanese students alike study and conduct research in a truly global and enriching educational environment. It is my expectation that the students who gather here from across the globe will become high-level, globally competent individuals who will make their unique contributions to solving global and regional issues and build new values in the Asia-Pacific.