Next spring, Ritsumeikan University (RU) will open its 16th undergraduate college, the College of Global Liberal Arts (GLA). The GLA curriculum, which will provide global-standard education, features a dual-degree program with The Australian National University (ANU).
What kind of college will GLA be and what can students expect to learn at RU and The ANU? We asked RU Professor Kanayama and ANU Associate Professor Youde, both of whom have been heavily involved in the planning of GLA, to look back on the process until now and discuss their expectations for the new college.
It’s official! The College of Global Liberal Arts (GLA) will open in April 2019.
Prof. Kanayama: It’s a great honor for Ritsumeikan University to work with The Australian National University (ANU) to build a bridge between Australia and Japan and establish a global standard of quality education. Higher education is tremendously significant in today’s globalized world, and we strive to provide the highest quality of education.
The partnership with ANU is not just a dual-university program. Each of the two universities represents their country, and everyone who is involved in higher education is looking at this project. Our duties and responsibilities are sky-high, so I'm a bit overwhelmed but highly motivated.
Dr. Youde: This is the first dual degree program between an Australian and Japanese institution at the undergraduate level. We’re not trying to homogenize two systems into one. Students will get a chance to study at both the Australian and the Japanese universities, and will benefit from these two countries’ higher education systems.
In 2014, ANU and Ritsumeikan University signed a Memorandum of Understanding, pledging to work together to create a dual-degree program. Over the next four years, we met repeatedly to design a program and negotiate a whole host of details, like how to ensure that credits could transfer back and forth between the institutions. These are tricky issues, but it’s a testament to our collective commitment to collaboration that we were able to sort out these issues and create this exciting program.
Prof. Kanayama: This is a fruitful result based on our very intensive but productive cooperative work. It could be called a real globalized collaboration in higher learning. We were delighted when ANU said they wanted to send their students to Japan. Ten ANU students are going to study at Ritsumeikan University for two years and will go back to Australia for their fourth year.
From GLA, some 90 students will study at the ANU campus in Canberra for their second or third year and come back to Japan for their third or fourth year. Graduates will obtain two degrees from the two universities. We call it a dual-degree program.
This dual-degree program enables students to obtain two degrees in four years. What would be the benefit of majoring in two fields: Global Liberal Arts and Asia & Pacific Affairs?
Prof. Kanayama: With this program, you can also specialize in—Asia & Pacific Affairs—which is a great combination with Global Liberal Arts. Graduates with a thorough knowledge of the Asia-Pacific region and with transferable skills will be highly sought after by international companies, profit and non-profit organizations, and society.
Dr. Youde: We need to have graduates who are culturally engaged and have acquired intercultural competence and critical thinking skills. We’re really engaging with the region as a whole. This partnership enables students to immerse themselves in a very experiential educational opportunity. It’s more than just studying—it’s living this experience.
We’re not training students for a specific career. We’re providing them with a lot of different opportunities while thinking about all sorts of careers they might embark on after they graduate from this dual-degree program—government work, private business, non-governmental organizations, and international organizations.
There are so many different areas where students can use the skills they develop by studying in two different countries and at two different universities. It will help set them apart from students who have graduated from only a single degree program or only studied at one institution.
Prof. Kanayama: Liberal arts studies give students flexibility in pursuing their future career. Dr. Youde, you’ve had your undergraduate education at a liberal arts college. How was focusing on liberal arts meaningful to you?
Dr. Youde: The liberal arts are valuable because of their emphasis on critical thinking, engagement with others, a sense of responsibility to a community, a sense of being part of a community, and a sense of giving back to the community to make the world a better place. That was really attractive to me and helped to shape my career. In a region as diverse as Asia-Pacific, these skills are vital for building and maintaining cross-cultural relationships.
GLA students will get full support from expert advisors who are always ready to help them.
Prof. Kanayama: Definitely. We really care about our students. In addition to the existing student support system of Ritsumeikan University as a whole, GLA is going to establish an extra support system for its students. We will provide them with very flexible guidance through close cooperation with ANU. The two universities have excellent professors, faculties, and staff who help all the students.
GLA students will choose from a wide variety of courses and classes, with strong support from the staff.
Prof. Kanayama: We highly respect students’ independence and choices in selecting classes and even pursuing their future careers. For that purpose, we are going to establish a student portfolio system, which enables our students to create their own tailor-made academic plans while contemplating a bright and promising future.
Dr. Youde: When GLA students study at the ANU campus, they can take a wide variety of courses offered by the ANU Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs. We will help these students find the right courses that are suitable for their interests. Ritsumeikan University and ANU can combine their courses to help the students create an experience tailored to their interests. We also provide a lot of opportunities for specialization so that students can figure out what their niche is and what they want to focus on.
Its unique curriculum is another striking feature of GLA.
Prof. Kanayama: Our curriculum has three main pillars, or three unique focal fields: Cosmopolitan Studies focuses on cultural studies and area studies to see the world more broadly; Civilization Studies looks at the world in-depth from a historical viewpoint; and Innovation Studies focuses on the current society, covering management, human intelligence and artificial intelligence, and innovation.
At GLA, Japanese students will learn about Japan in English.
Prof. Kanayama: Studying Japan is another unique element of the GLA curriculum. We are based in Osaka, Japan. When you go overseas, you should be able to talk about your country in English. In this sense, in addition to GLA’s three pillars, the Japanese studies cluster, related to what I mentioned, will contribute to stimulating students’ interest. On the other hand, when the students go to Australia to study at ANU, they should also learn about Australia and the Asia-Pacific region.
Don't forget to read Part 2, in which, Dr. Youde discuss the ANU and the Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs in more detail…
Director, Development Committee of College of Global Liberal Arts, Ritsumeikan University
(Dean-elect, College of Global Liberal Arts)
Professor, College of Social Science
Research Profile: http://research-db.ritsumei.ac.jp/Profiles/60/0005921/prof_e.html
Associate Professor, Deputy Director (Education), Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs, The Australian National University
Research Profile: https://researchers.anu.edu.au/researchers/youde-j