Learning to accept diverse values and opinions while revisiting my own

Introducing “Working and Thinking Globally 01”
(University-wide open course)

Waseda Weekly, an online magazine for Waseda Students, has interviewed Yuki Ozaki from the Graduate School of Asia-Pacific Studies to share with us a popular and intriguing University-wide open course in Waseda taught by Professor Takako Takano she feels is worth taking.

Yuka Ozaki
Year two student from the Graduate School of Asia-Pacific Studies

There are three main characteristics of Professor Takako Takano’s (Faculty of Letters, Arts and Society) “Working and Thinking Globally 01” class. The first one is having guest speakers from outside Waseda University to give talks to students every week. These guest speakers come from diverse backgrounds and organizations. To name a few, we have had journalists and entrepreneurs, as well as guest speakers from non-profit organization, government and non-government organizations alike to give talks to students. We are not only expected to listen to the guests, but also to think hard and deep about the issue at hand. Students in general participate very actively in class and ask many critical and intriguing questions after the guest speakers deliver their presentations. In fact, there were many times we could not finish class on time because students had too many questions to ask.


Students learn to accept diverse views and opinions through group discussion

The second characteristic of Professor Takano’s class is its emphasis on discussion. In each class, we have to form groups of four and engage in group discussion on the questions raised by guests during their presentations. “How can individualism and collectivism coexist?” “What does it mean to work?” “What does it mean to be rich or wealthy and what should be treated most importantly in life?” etc., these are some of the open-ended questions that we often discuss in class.

The third characteristic lies in cultivating leadership among students. At the start of each semester, Professor Takano will ask for volunteers to form a student management team and lead three full classes in the semester. The team will conduct meeting after each class or during the remaining class time before class ends to think of and make a class plan that are going to be entirely led by them. In 2017 spring semester, 19 students volunteered to be part of this management team and led three different classes on self-understanding, tuning in to others and effective communication. These classes provide opportunities for students to revisit themselves and their values, as well as learn about the challenges faced when conflicting values arise. It is a great learning experience for all students in class as well as those who volunteered to be part of the management team.

Left photo: Professor Takano (in green T-shirt) and student management team members
Right photo: student management team leading the class

Professor Takano received the teaching award in 2016 for delivering “Working and Thinking Globally 01.” Her class is so popular that many are interested in retaking her class or be involved in it by joining the student management team. In fact, I myself have volunteered for three semesters. The class was initially scheduled for discontinuation in 2016 spring semester. However, due to the massive support from and popularity among students, Professor Takano started offering the class again in 2017. It is a class which you can meet people that come from different backgrounds and share different values, learn proactively, reflect upon yourself and change the way you think about life.

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