First ever Global Liberal Arts Summer Camp student conversation

In anticipation of Ritsumeikan University’s groundbreaking new Global Liberal Arts (GLA) Dual Degree Program with The Australian National University (ANU), set to begin in April 2019, July 18-21 saw the very first Global Liberal Arts Summer Camp take place at Osaka Ibaraki Campus.

Designed to provide high school students, from year ten upwards, with an insight into the English-based Dual Degree, as well as a genuine taste of what daily life is really like for students at Ritsumeikan University (RU), the four day residential camp offered potential students the opportunity to meet RU’s GLA faculty and students, and explore both the ‘three pillars of Global Liberal Arts’* and the complementary ‘Japanese Studies Cluster’**, through two special lectures.

Professor Yamashita discussing with students in an interactive lecture
Professor Yamashita discussed Max Weber’s ‘Six Principles of Bureaucracy’ with students in an interactive lecture

Appropriately for GLA, which is envisioned as a place where students from all over the world can come and study together in the world’s hotbed of globalization: Asia, the inaugural summer camp participants brought with them a broad spectrum of substantial international and domestic experience - stretching internationally from The U.S., Taiwan and New Zealand, and domestically from Nagano to Tokyo.

During the meeting with current students, speaking informally in small groups, topics ranged from how to manage daily chores to academic expectations, and participants took full advantage of the opportunity to ask more probing questions about the practical details of getting set up in the local area after arrival.

Relations had in fact been established the previous day as participants and students enjoyed an evening meal together; yet conversations continued well into lunch, with any lingering questions answered over a final shared dinner at the end of day three.

The lectures meanwhile knitted historical analysis, social theory, and the influence of technology - relating all three in turn to contemporary society and everyday life relevant to participants. Day two’s lecture successfully introduced and integrated the classical sociologist Max Weber’s ‘Six Principles of Bureaucracy’ with an ordinary visit to a well-known fast food restaurant; whilst day three’s lecture focused on the conceptual and historical development of Japan’s world famous work ethic.

*The three pillars are: Cosmopolitan Studies, Civilization Studies, and Innovation Studies
**The ‘Japanese Studies Cluster’: Students will learn the unique features of Japanese history, society, and culture in the global context with the aim of deepening their knowledge acquired in the three pillars of studies, taking Japan in Asia and the World as a case study


What participants said:

Course participant Liona Sadler:


Course participant gives presentation

On the course:
I’m interested in liberal arts and so I think it’s quite interesting how this course is taking quite a new perspective on it. I think it is a program that will help students find job opportunities after graduation, by preparing students for the modern world.

This course is not just liberal arts, it has a more international approach and combines technology into the liberal arts field too. Especially now when I think our world is so fixed on technology, if you’re not into science and are more of an arts person this course still gives you a useful awareness of science and technology.

On day two’s lecture:
I thought it was really interesting. I didn’t realize how our world could be seen as organized in that way. It was also nice that we were split into groups to work with each other – there was a lot of team work and discussion, and it was more interactive, more student-based, which was really engaging. Usually lectures are just one person talking, just one person giving information to students. The fact that we got to voice our opinions made it seem more worthwhile and relevant to us.

On Ritsumeikan University:
I like it. It’s very open and people seem very friendly. When we spoke to the students, I could tell they really like it here. The professor also seemed really genuine and gave the impression that if we had questions we could easily go to him for help. I get the impression that you can access and talk to people easily. The facilities are also easy to maneuver around and I feel like it is an easy place to adapt to.

Would you recommend the summer camp to a friend and, if so, why?
Yes! I would recommend it. It’s out of Tokyo and so offers a new experience of Japan. Also people are really genuine and really care about you opinions and so it’s a good place to start. The university is also nice, the people are nice, the facilities are nice…It’s also good to see such a new program trying to accomplish something new.

Course participant Jun Ikeda:

Course participant enjoys interaction with other students

On the course:
I think a good part of the GLA program is that if you’re not sure what you want to focus on as a specialism, you can (keep your options open and) look into a wide variety of subjects.

I like also that it tries to take a global view from many different perspectives, which I think is very important. Life is not always black and white, sometimes there are grey areas, and the course, I feel, will help you to navigate through those grey areas.

On day two and three's lectures:
I found the lectures to be good for me because, compared to high school classes, they were more free and independent, asked open questions, and allowed us to discuss the topics. The lecturers are happy to express their opinions too and I found listening to what they have to say very interesting.

On Ritsumeikan University:
I live in Tokyo, but there’s a different vibe in this part of Japan. The Osaka, Kyoto, Shiga area is a beautiful place – I love it! It’s a really clean campus. It’s also very international, I feel, after speaking to a lot of the students.

Would you recommend the summer camp to a friend and, if so, why?
I would definitely recommend it – especially if you have an interest in studying in Japan. It is fun and it gives a good insight into what it would be like to study GLA here. You get to experience the dorms, campus and community, which are all really nice. And you also get to interact with students, which is very important because they are on the front line here and have real experiences to share.


Find out more about the Global Liberal Arts (GLA) Dual Degree Program:
http://en.ritsumei.ac.jp/gla/

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