(1) Diploma Policy(Principles concerning the conferment of academic degrees)
Waseda University, with its unique integrated character, systematic curriculum, and university-wide educational and student life environment, is developing various exchanges involving learning, culture, languages and values. These exchanges are aimed at the cultivation of human resources who will contribute to global society through their own initiative.
While enhancing expertise in the field of international culture and communication studies, the educational activities and research direction of GSICCS are designed with the broader aim of developing human resources with an internationalist outlook founded on such specialist knowledge.
In the education and research endeavors of our graduate school, humanistic research in the fields of linguistic communication and cultural studies will be combined with a social scientific approach. In concrete terms, the school will encourage research of both a theoretical and empirical nature into the roles of communication networks seen respectively in linguistic, cultural, and social terms, and including not only, at the micro level, interactions between individuals, but also the messages sent by individuals to society as a whole, and finally socio-political communication amongst public bodies and states. In addition, in GSICCS English will be employed as the primary language of education and research.
According to the principles described above, in order to be awarded the degree of “Master of Arts (in International Culture and Communication Studies)”, Master’s students at GSICCS must not only be enrolled for at least two academic years and complete the credit requirements, but also must carry out directed research and submit a dissertation of Master’s standard as evaluated by one chief and two sub examiners.
Further, in order to be awarded the degree of “Doctor of Arts (in International Culture and Communication Studies)”, Doctoral students at GSICCS must not only be enrolled for at least three academic years and complete the credit requirements, but also carry out directed research and submit a dissertation of Doctoral standard as evaluated by one chief and two sub examiners.
(2) Curriculum Policy(Principles concerning the organization and implementation of the course of study)
The Master’s program at GSICCS offers post-graduate education and provides research direction according to three distinct studies plans, each cultivating both international and interdisciplinary perspectives: Language & Communication, centering on linguistic issues; Culture & Communication, centering on cultural issues; and Society & Communication, centering on social issues.
In Basic Courses, students learn the theory that they will need to undertake sustained and effective research in the field of international culture and communication studies. In Specialized Courses, students master the knowledge that they will need to undertake research in the fields of language studies, cultural and media studies, and social sciences. Moreover, by enrolling in Related Courses, students can acquire practical skills useful in maximizing the specialist knowledge acquired in each discipline.
Directed Research seminars, under the guidance of one chief examiner supported by two professors acting as sub-examiners, create an environment in which candidates have access to a broader range of expert knowledge and opinion while producing their Master’s dissertations.
In the Doctoral program, as their principal areas of research, students can focus on (1) Globalization and Transculture, (2) IT Culture and Modern Society, (3) Visual Culture and Language, or (4) Theories of Media and Communication, which they are encouraged to analyze by combining approaches based on Language Studies, Cultural and Media Studies, and Social Studies.
Curriculum requirements include Seminar A, in which students seek to master research ethics; Seminar B, in which students study the theoretical and practical technologies needed in order to carry out advanced, interdisciplinary research; and a course of Independent Study, which optimizes their ability to develop their own academic interests.
As in the Master’s program, Direct Research seminars, under the guidance of one main chief examiner supported by two professors acting as sub-examiners, offer assistance to students as they write their Doctoral thesis.
(3) Admission Policy(Principles concerning enrollment)
With its unique education and research ideals based on the concept of “academic independence,” Waseda University welcomes a large number of students, from both within Japan and around the world, with a strong foundation of academic ability, intellectual curiosity, and willingness to study with the enterprising spirit that is at the core of the school’s philosophy.
An important objective at GSICCS is to foster global human resources with the ability to communicate at an advanced level in several languages. Thus, those completing our Master’s program, in addition to pursuing advanced study in graduate schools both inside and outside Japan, including in GSICCS’s own Doctoral course, are expected to enter multi-national companies in the finance, trading, media and IT industries, as well as NPOs and NGOs, among other international organizations.
To achieve the above aims, there is a need to recruit talent from widely diverse cultural backgrounds from both within and beyond Japan. So, instead of a traditional general admissions policy centered on written examinations, our school employs an AO (Admissions Office) entrance system that allows greater flexibility in candidate selection.
Under our AO admissions system, Master’s candidates must submit a range of documents, notably including formal applications, undergraduate transcripts, research plans, and evaluation sheets (recommendations). Moreover, the submission of either an English-language proficiency certificate (whether TOEFL, IELTS, or TOEIC) or a score report in a common graduate school entrance test framed in English (GRE, MAT, GMAT, LSAT, etc) is required for all applicants. These documents form the basis of a selection process which aims to admit those not only with superior powers of logical reasoning and English expression, but also with wide academic knowledge and a capacity for research demonstrated by academic output.
In addition, in order to actively encourage applications by outstanding undergraduate students from within Waseda University, we have introduced a procedure for admission via Intramural Selection by Recommendation, as well as creating a Non-degree Research Student auditing system for those planning for their academic future or wishing to earn credits in specific courses.
To admit students with an advanced level of knowledge in international culture and communication studies, the Doctoral program also offers an AO admissions system and an internal selection process for graduates of the GSICCS Master’s program. The AO admissions system requires applicants to submit their Master’s thesis (research paper) and summary, a description of their academic accomplishments and activities, their research plans, a statement of intent, a description of future study and career plans, two evaluation sheets (recommendations), both their Master’s program transcript and their undergraduate transcript, along with the results of an English proficiency test such as TOEFL as necessary. Students applying under the internal GSICCS process are required to submit a summary of their Master’s thesis (research paper), a description of their academic accomplishments and activities, their research plans, a statement of intent, a description of their future study and career plans, one evaluation sheet (recommendation), and their Master’s program transcript. In both cases, the admissions process entails a close evaluation of the applicant’s education track record, up to and including their performance in the Master’s program, along with an assessment of their potential and promise with regard to future research.
Contributing to Society
Law Graham：With me I have two of the people who have been most closely involved in setting up GSICCS: Takashi Aso, first dean of the new school,and Norimasa Morita, current dean of SILS.Together the three of us will be chatting about how and why GSICCS came into being. To start with, how long has the project been in the works?
MORITA Norimasa：If I remember rightly, it took well over two years from first conception to eventual approval by the Ministry of Education in the summer of 2012. In fact, the final proposal submitted for approval bore very little similarity to the first rough plan that was drafted back around 2010. In between there were many rounds of discussion and negotiation among SILS staff,within Waseda as a whole, and with the public bodies concerned. However, the aims for the grad. school that we set up right at the beginning remain fundamentally unchanged.
LG：Briefly, what are those aims?
ASO Takashi：Well, first of all, we wanted to make something the Japanese education system badly needed but didn’t have already. There are not many grad. schools which do not require Japanese language fluency, and even fewer that offers courses with an interdisciplinary focus. More and more, academic research is being conducted on a topic-basis, crossing traditional disciplinary boundaries, and we wanted that to be reflected in the curriculum.
MN：Traditionally, Japanese graduate schools in the humanities and social sciences have been considered solely as a training ground for future academics. But, while the number of grad.schools is increasing, university and research posts generally are not. So grad. schools have to prepare their students for careers other than in higher education. While GSICCS will still provide a rigorous specialist education for those who want to become academics, it will also offer opportunities for those intending to work as generalist-specialists outside academia.
Everything Starts with Communication
AT：At the same time, we wanted to make GSICCS an institution where both faculty and students can address the most challenging and pressing issues of the 21st century. Traditional problems and approaches don’t go away, but they need reinterpreting in a modern light. Now, for example, we need to combine theoretical expertise with practical skills, whether in communication or problem-solving.
MN：In an era of globalization, the world becomes much more standardized, but regions and areas don’t lose their importance. Just as America is now the single global power, so English is now arguably the sole world language. But the large majority of inhabitants don’t speak it. Global culture is spreading into the far corners of the world, thanks to progress in communications technology, but local cultures have not lost their significance. Even after the Cold War ended, the world hasn’t been peaceful. There are now more local conflicts and wars than at any other time in history. That’s why communication is at the center of our concerns. In GSICCS the various aspects of communication are up for investigation, whether linguistic, cultural, or institutional.
A Truly International Community
LG：And what about the “I” in GSICCS?
AT：We wanted the school to be truly international,not just in the subjects of the curriculum, but also in the community that the school fostered. Our teaching staff speak several languages and are involved in research on global issues, with many of them coming from outside Japan. We are expecting that at least half our applicants will likewise be from overseas, and we hope that small classes will encourage passionate debate and warm friendship among students from different backgrounds and with different views of the world.
LG：The final thing we should mention is that GSICCS undoubtedly builds on the successes of SILS, with its diverse student body and interdisciplinary curriculum. Some people say it is crazy to try to construct a grad. school on top of a liberal arts department, but you have already explained clearly why that it is far from being the case. Over the last eight years, the stimulation of working with bright and lively young minds from all over the world in the new undergraduate school has been of tremendous benefit to all of us. So we are excited at the prospect of taking things to the next level. Thank you both for sharing your experiences and ideas.