On June 18th 2018, an international symposium entitled International identities, plurilingualism and comparatism in higher education: an interdisciplinary perspective was hosted by the School of International Liberal Studies (SILS) at Waseda University. This symposium was organized to mark the 1st anniversary of the five-year long Area Studies and Plurilingual-Multicultural Education Programme (APM), launched in September 2017 in SILS, to further the international component of its liberal arts curriculum by deepening the linguistic and cultural scope of the pluridisciplinary study plan its students can have access to.
With the financial support of the MEXT Super Global University funding programme, four recent PhD graduates and promising Assistant Professors were introduced by selected partners in France, Spain, China and Korea, to offer academic courses in their fields (respectively, French political science, Spanish political economy, Chinese political science and Korean comparative literature) not only in English (like all the other courses offered in SILS), but also in their mother tongues (French, Spanish, Chinese or Korean) for native-speakers and advanced non-native speakers studying in Waseda University, as well as English-based Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) courses for intermediate learners interested in studying abroad in their respective areas. This pilot undergraduate programme is unique in Japan, relying on the idea that modern citizens truly capable of bridging different societies (whether for commercial, political, artistic, scientific, educational or social purposes) should be able not only to use English as an essential lingua franca for global communication in varied contexts, but also possess the linguistic skills and sociocultural expertise in one particular area to fully understand the differences and similarities which can ease or hinder all forms of interaction between members of different communities, whatever field of specialty they pertain to.
1) Research presentations with guest speakers from France (Sciences Po Paris), Spain (Autonomous University of Madrid), China (Peking University) and South Korea (Seoul National University);
2) APM presentations from our APM teachers (French, Spanish, Chinese, Korean);
3) Student presentations with groups made up of Waseda regular and exchange students (French studies group, Spanish studies group, Chinese studies group, Korean studies group);
4) Institutional presentations with delegates from the French Embassy in Tokyo – Institut Français du Japon, the Instituto Cervantes, the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Japan and the Korea Foundation.
This structure aimed at reflecting the spirit of the programme designed to connect not only academic content and non-native languages, but also disciplines and generations.
The audience also had the chance to listen to a guest speech by the Managing Director of NHK World-Japan about the role of media in today’s multipolar world and NHK WORLD – JAPAN.
The quality of the presentations and the rich exchanges during the Q&A sessions gave the participants a sense of accomplishment and openness, as well as an impetus for further developments in the area of plurilingual education and CLIL training in higher education in Japan, as well as in France, Spain, China and Korea.