School of International Liberal StudiesWaseda University

About the School

School Overview

The Educational Goals of the School of International Liberal Studies (SILS)

Modern society increasingly demands the members who have broad educational experience, are capable of communicating in English – the international common language – and aspire to realize a free and fair society.

In 2004, SILS was established with an original concept and curriculum designed to meet this demand. Specifically, SILS aims to contribute to the development of the following types of students:

*Students who aspire to try to resolve the problems facing our globalizing world

*Students who are conscious of the distinctiveness of their own culture but also aim to live harmoniously in a multi-cultural society

*Students who understand the fundamentals of various academic fields and also have interests in innovative, interdisciplinary scholarly pursuits

*Students with the ability to express their own views in a foreign language.

Three Fundamental Policies of SILS

1. Diploma Policy

The School of International Liberal Studies (SILS) is committed to producing graduates who can take advantage of Waseda University’s broad scope and unique environment to make a proactive contribution to global society. For this purpose, on the basis of the school’s systematic educational framework, its university-wide academic environment and its student-to-student relationships, they will be able to develop close exchange in multifaceted areas of study, culture, language and values.

SILS seeks to nurture talented individuals capable of confronting global issues with a sound judgment and from multi-faceted perspectives, so that they may truly become global citizens motivated to act on the world stage with a sense of justice, a competitive edge and humanity. Specifically, SILS confers bachelor’s degrees in International Liberal Studies on individuals who have achieved the following capabilities and qualifications, as well as earned 124 credits in four or more years as a full-time student:

  1. Attained communication skills sufficient for effective interaction on an international level.
  2. Completed introductory courses taught in English from at least three different academic clusters.
  3. Completed 16 or more credits in intermediate courses and 16 or more credits in advanced courses.
  4. Acquired a third language that is not their mother tongue or English, or completed courses related to their chosen disciplines or area studies using one of the following six major languages (Chinese, Korean, French, Spanish, German, and Russian); and, for students whose mother tongue is not Japanese, have acquired an ability to read, understand, write and converse smoothly in Japanese.
  5. Acquired a basic knowledge of statistics.
  6. Acquired the abilities to present ideas clearly to others and to think logically by absorbing information from books and papers written in English through the different levels of introductory, intermediate and advanced coursework and also their senior thesis research or other equivalent studies.

2. Curriculum Policy

SILS provides a liberal arts education that emphasises the fostering of logical thinking and multidimensional perspectives, together with developing grounding in liberal arts through instruction in small classes. SILS offers an environment for imparting strong international sensibilities through measures such as making English the common language of the school, as well as requiring all native Japanese-speaking students to study abroad for one year. The curriculum is further strengthened by the presence of a high proportion of overseas students in the student body.

SILS practices a form of liberal arts education that emphasises taking courses in a wide variety of subject areas. In order to inculcate multi-faceted perspectives, skills in logical thinking and analytical and practical abilities, SILS does not limit its courses to particular specialisations, but instead makes possible the interdisciplinary study of a wide range of subjects that offer a comprehensive picture of the current state of world affairs.

  1. SILS offers courses that allow students of all initial levels of ability to acquire fundamental knowledge in areas such as statistics and the comprehension of a foreign culture through advanced English skills and the acquisition of a third language. In addition, subjects deemed indispensable to higher education are offered as first-year seminars in English. Native Japanese-speaking students are also required to take an additional class in Japanese.
  2. In order to stress the importance of lively communication between the faculty and students, and among the students themselves, SILS makes small class size a fundamental principle. Seminar-type classes with a maximum enrolment of 20 students are evenly placed throughout the introductory, intermediate and advanced courses to achieve a balance from the first semester through to graduation. In lecture-type classes, students raised in Japan have the opportunity to participate in discussion in English with classmates from other countries and exchange students from our top-class partner universities.
  3. SILS cultivates in its students learning in a wide range of subjects in English by conducting the majority of lecture courses in English. For students whose native tongue is not Japanese, SILS offers Japanese language study programmes through the university-wide language educational system. In order to develop more international perspectives, native Japanese-speaking students are required to study abroad for one year. SILS offers third language programmes that allow students to study a variety of different languages through the university-wide language educational system. Students can participate in study abroad programmes by choosing from a list of universities in our worldwide partner-network, which is not limited to English-speaking areas. In addition, SILS offers courses specially designed for students preparing to study abroad in the major language areas (English, Chinese, Korean, French, Spanish, German, and Russian) as well as follow-up courses that build on students’ study abroad experiences upon their return to SILS.

3. Admission Policy

Under Waseda University’s educational philosophy of academic independence, SILS welcomes domestic and international students with strong basic academic skills and intellectual curiosity, rich in an enterprising spirit and highly motivated to study.

The school is committed to recruiting students

  1. who are strongly motivated to study in English.
  2. with the linguistic ability or potential to communicate effectively in a language other than their mother tongue.
  3. with the all-round academic ability or potential to approach problems from more than one disciplinary perspective.
  4. with the critical ability or potential to analyse issues from an original perspective.
  5. with the rhetorical ability or potential to express themselves with clarity and precision when presenting or discussing ideas and information.
  6. who come from a wide range of cultural and educational backgrounds, both at the local and the global level.
  7. who have the adaptability and flexibility to respond to the social and psychological challenges of living and studying in a new environment.
  8. who have the readiness and willingness to consider intellectual and moral questions from an international and comparative perspective.

Each single admission route into SILS is intended to embody several of these principles, while the overall admissions system endeavours to reflect them all.


Future Global Citizens Take Wing

Founded in 2004 as a departure from the specialized study to which other faculties aspire, the School of International Liberal Studies (SILS) offers a unique curriculum combining the best of Waseda University – its cultivated tradition and extensive network of educational assets – with the personalized, cultured scholarship of a liberal arts education, especially its signature emphasis on developing a multi-dimensional outlook and ability to think logically. Beyond the mind-expanding coursework, daily campus life provides a highly internationalized environment – with English as the lingua franca – for young students to exchange and synthesize the multitude of ideas that percolate from their diverse blend of cultures, backgrounds and languages. The school actively recruits international students, just as it encourages its own students to take advantage of the extensive worldwide network of affiliated universities participating in its study abroad program. Ultimately, SILS seeks to raise a generation of global citizens with the strong desire, profound ethical sensibility, and robust international competitiveness needed to take on today’s worldwide challenges. Steeped in humanity, SILS students soar on the wings of dreams.

Points of Distinction

A SILS liberal arts education consists of coursework in an array of disciplines, emphasizing deep and extensive learning. The curriculum is designed to help students develop a multifaceted worldview, logical thinking and analysis skills – and a real-world ability to get things done.

Seven Thematic Clusters and Area Studies Courses

In meeting its objective of developing individuals with an encompassing vision and keen ability for logical thinking, SILS has established courses in seven general thematic clusters, each representing a body of knowledge, and all together encompassing some of the world’s most up-to-date and comprehensive subject matter. If these thematic areas can be considered the vertical axis of SILS coursework, they are intersected by area studies on the horizontal axis. This structure enables students to navigate through their coursework as they see fit – focusing on issues of interest concerning a particular nation, for example, or opting to pursue a broader course of international comparative studies. In any case, the curriculum was developed to extend the learning process beyond mere knowledge acquisition. Instead, the cluster and area study approach emphasizes development of students’ own abilities to consider and analyze issues from multiple perspectives, and to reach their own conclusions.

Seven Thematic Clusters

1. Life, Environment, Matter and Information

Fundamental knowledge of both the environment and information processing is a requisite for life in modern society. The Life, Environment, Matter and Information cluster facilitates this understanding, with courses focused on the physical sciences but also including life sciences, bioethics, environmental science and policy, earth and material science, chemistry, information science and mathematical statistics. All class material is designed to be readily comprehended by both humanities and science students.

2. Philosophy, Religion and History

In the Philosophy, Religion and History cluster, students examine currents of Japanese and world thought. The areas of study – ethics and archaeology in addition to philosophy, religion and history – form the collective basis for understanding the social conditions all over the world. All of these subjects are also deeply intermingled in current world politics, economics, and cultural trends, as well as the continuing evolution of world civilizations. They are bedrock elements of international relations. Thus, by mastering the fundamentals of the topics covered in the Philosophy, Religion and History cluster, students acquire the ability to think more incisively about issues in contemporary society.

3. Economy and Business

SILS Economy and Business cluster courses develop against a richly diverse backdrop, with students from around the globe, representing a wide variety of educational and personal backgrounds. The cluster curriculum is similarly vibrant and inclusive,integrating not only economics and business, but management, finance and accounting into an overarching study of economic and financial policy in , Europe and the . Faculty in the cluster help their charges grasp the necessity for analytical thinking, and encourage them to ask the qualitative why and how questions, not just the conventional “who did what when?” Thanks to this approach, economy and business become an important prism through which students can develop a broader perspective on the world.

4. Governance, Peace, Human Rights and International Relations

This wide-ranging cluster encompasses politics, law, human rights, minority studies, international relations and organizations, and peace studies, among other fields. A grasp of history provides the springboard for examination of numerous contemporary issues. Meanwhile, classroom lectures focus on core concepts, designed to create areas of common understanding for students of diverse backgrounds. Given the nature of the subject matter, studies in Governance, Peace, Human Rights and International Relations do not necessarily lead to the unambiguous, “right-or-wrong” answers that might be expected in other disciplines.However, by developing an orderly, analytical approach to thinking about issues,individual learners in the cluster master strategies to figure out the answers and solutions that work for them.

5. Communication

Since words and language are integral to human communication, students in this cluster learn across a wide variety of fields related to linguistics. The Communication cluster goes beyond simple consideration of spoken language and the interaction between people of different native tongues to areas such as body language and gestures, and automated or human-machine dialogue. To assure that students acquire the basic knowledge that will be relevant to their future work or research, the faculty encourages them to be assertive with their questions and comments, then incorporates the feedback into classroom teaching.

6. Expression

An innovative, interdisciplinary approach to human expression, this cluster holistically links art, theater and performing arts with film, music, literature, media studies and architecture. Courses offered in the Expression cluster are of particular interest and value for students seeking to increase understanding between cultures, as well as for those who plan to pursue a career in journalism, media, publishing, translation or related fields after graduating from SILS.

7. Culture, Mind and Body, and Community

Each of the three component elements in this cluster is a unique area of focused interest in itself. The Culture segment encompasses comparative culture, gender studies, cultural studies, sociology and anthropology. Mind and Body courses include psychology, philosophy, body theory, health and therapy. Meanwhile, the Community component is comprised of urban, area, and community studies, along with courses examining global society and NPO/NGO issues. Students in this cluster are encouraged to take advantage of their educational environment – defined by the cultural and historical diversity of one another’s backgrounds – to develop a multidimensional interpretation of the world around them.

International Environment Draws a Multicultural Student Body

International students comprise nearly a third of SILS enrollment, representing some 50 nations worldwide. At SILS, cross-cultural/multicultural communication is an everyday experience, serving to sharpen the international sensibilities of Japanese and overseas students alike.

Small Class Education Focusing on Discussion

Small classes that honor the value of dynamic student-faculty interaction and student-to-student communication are the bedrock of the SILS approach. Each semester, students are offered seminar courses designed to integrate their education across disciplines, capped at 25 members.

Language Learning that Speaks to Globalization

English is the common language of communication at SILS,and the language of instruction for nearly all its courses. The curriculum features programs designed to enhance English abilities and develop Japanese language skills while matching the needs of students who speak various different native languages. SILS students also have the opportunity to learn 23 other languages as they forge the linguistic skills that will prove indispensable in our global society.

Japanese Language Program

The Japanese Language Program is designed to assure that SILS students can live comfortably in Japan without experiencing problems with the language. Instruction is provided at eight levels to accommodate whatever degree of Japanese proficiency an entering student brings to the program, with individuals assigned to the appropriate level based on the result of the first test administered after admission to SILS.

Levels 1 and 2 are geared to students with little or no experience studying Japanese, and focus on the fundamentals of the language, using actual communication situations to develop the student’s capability for simple conversation. Level 3 seeks to develop reading and writing skills – students learn 500 kanji characters – while raising the level of spoken language mastery to enable communication in the everyday conversations a student may encounter. At Levels 4 and 5, students develop sufficient Japanese language proficiency to talk about and comprehend subjects beyond their immediate circumstances, engaging in relatively sophisticated communication across a wide range of topics. By Level 6, the student’s Japanese capabilities have risen sufficiently to enable enrollment in normal college courses conducted in the Japanese language. In parallel, these students may also aim for the highest level of certification (Level 1) on the Japanese Language Proficiency Test. In the upper-level classes – Levels 7 and 8 – students overcome whatever weak points remain in their Japanese so that they can handle university-level discourse of any degree of difficulty. These are small classes of only 5-20 students.

Meanwhile, the program boasts more than 500 Japanese language volunteers dedicated to helping students increase their proficiency. Japanese Language Program participants are reassessed at the end of each semester and transferred to whichever level best matches their improved skills. The program aims to promote the average student three or four levels within two years.

Year-long Study Abroad to Overseas Partner Institution

In order to approach the world with a broader outlook, non-native Japanese speakers can (and non-native English speakers must) spend a year studying overseas. Participants can choose from among more than 300 affiliated universities and other institutions of higher education worldwide.

Major Partner Institution:

Columbia University, University of Pennsylvania, University of California, Berkeley, Hertford College, Oxford, Pembroke College, Cambridge, l’Institut d’Études Politiques de Paris (IEP), Peking University, Korea University, National Taiwan University, National University of Singapore, Chulalongkorn University, De La Salle University, United Arab Emirates University, Makerere University

Booklet and Video

Please visit the Waseda University Online Tour website to view the SILS introduction video, videos of mock lectures by our faculty members, and an inside look at some of the seminar classes. Also the website will contain promotional contents of other schools/departments at our university and other information such as the student life of Waseda students.

Please check out our e-brochure from here.


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