School of International Liberal Studies Dean
Prof. Taisaku IKESHIMA
Welcome to the School of International Liberal Studies (SILS)! SILS is a community where students can freely study various subjects in an internationalised environment. Students, once admitted, will need a freer and more positive attitude towards learning with critical thinking, one quite different from their existing attitudes. Before entering the university, they may have deemed it important to arrive at definite answers to questions. From now on, however, they will mainly learn methods and processes to solve new and complicated problems which may have more than one or even no answers at all.
Nowadays, we are faced with multiple challenges. These challenges range from increasing globalization, populism, and immigration to climate change and the need to adapt new technologies like AI for useful purposes. It is necessary for us to acquire the knowledge which enables us to tackle these challenges from new and multiple viewpoints. We must adopt a cross-sectoral and inter-disciplinary approach and look for solutions beyond the framework of traditional research areas. I believe, moreover, it is our classics and our ancestors’ wisdom and experience from which we can profitably learn to nurture a fundamental thought and idea. In sum, liberal studies at SILS, in my view, mean that irrespective of a student’s chosen field of study, he or she can learn to cultivate and build his or her character in the internationalised environment of the School. The students can accomplish this by reading classics of all ages and countries, learning world languages and familiarising themselves with world cultures. Additionally, they get the opportunity to practically exchange ideas with teachers and friends from various fields.
SILS does not presume English to be the only world language, although all the SILS students study all their courses mainly in English. Besides English, SILS also encourages them to learn other languages such as Chinese, French, Korean, and Spanish. Further, they are encouraged to learn about other countries and cultures in relation to their significance and relationship with Japan. SILS offers to the students a bird’s eye view of the curriculum made of seven ‘clusters’ (areas) of study, although the classification of study fields into humanities/social sciences and STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) is much common in Japanese universities’ entrance exams. In the early medieval curriculum, European universities offered the seven liberal arts (the trivium of grammar, logic, and rhetoric, and the quadrivium of arithmetic, music, geometry, and astronomy) as the basics, and the triad of theology, law, and medicine as the specializations. Now that sciences are highly specialized and subdivided, it is necessary to cultivate oneself through liberal arts education to face the challenges of rapid globalisation. Students at SILS are expected not only to learn the basics which will sustain them after graduation but also to acquire the ability to consider multiple viewpoints and nurture liberal ideas, which will be required after graduation to confront the major challenges of the world.
Students at SILS are, therefore, free to decide for themselves, with ready support of the faculty, their own subjects in accordance with their own purposes under certain conditions of SILS curriculum. Depending on their interests and the career path they have planned for themselves after graduation, students choose the subjects they want to study, which is also a part of the process of nurturing them to become independent and establish themselves. Besides choosing the courses/subjects, they are also free to choose the destination to study abroad, the seminar of their choice, and the way they want to spend their leisure time. What is being nurtured here is their sense of independence, with which they choose extra-curricular activities, including volunteer work and internship. Freedom and self-responsibility, however, are two sides of the same coin. SILS expects students to be fully responsible for their own conduct.
SILS, which has many foreign students, provides new students a wonderful academic environment to enable them to enjoy a new self-nurturing student life. We hope that they will pave their own way by cultivating themselves as all-rounders who can flexibly cope with new challenges. To meet these objectives and purposes, all the SILS faculty are pleased to be of any help to the students. Good luck and all the best!