Ritsumeikan University’s groundbreaking new Global Liberal Arts (GLA) Dual Degree Program with The Australian National University (ANU) was launched in April this year. With the first cohort of students well settled into their studies, the first ever Global Liberal Arts Summer Camp to be held since the establishment of the program, took place in the second week of July (8 – 13) at Osaka Ibaraki Campus (OIC).

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), this year the camp took the form of a comprehensive six day residential.

Staying in on-campus accommodation, participants were provided with the opportunity to talk informally and frankly with current students, and introduced to many of the sights, sounds and tastes of Japan’s second largest city, Osaka.

The focus, however, was on introducing the academic content of the Dual Degree Program itself, with four undergraduate-level seminars ensuring a genuine, immersive academic experience:

Day 2 Introduction to Global Liberal Arts

Day two’s seminar saw Professor and Associate Dean of the College of Global Liberal Arts, Eugene Choi, introduce students to the reasoning behind the establishment of the dual degree program.

Professor Choi speaks in front of a large multi-touch interactive display

Focusing on the history and development of Liberal Arts as a subject, the professor addressed the need for the establishment of the program by explaining how the core of the program, in the form of the ‘Essential three Pillars’ of ‘Cosmopolitan Studies’, ‘Civilization Studies’ and ‘Innovation Studies’, complimented also by a ‘Japanese Studies Cluster’, provides students with the knowledge, skills, creativity and critical awareness required to become successful and adaptable members of society in the forthcoming age of 100 year lifespans.

A coursework example featuring a break down of the four year program - showing year one as essentials of global liberal arts before year two features the three pillars
A coursework example for students commencing the program in April

In this way the stage was set for the following days during which a seminar each day provided participants with examples of course content from each of the three pillars.

Day 3 Cosmopolitan Studies

Day three saw Associate Professor and Assistant Dean of the College of Global Liberal Arts, Christophe Thouny, give a cultural studies seminar from the Cosmopolitan Studies pillar. Entitled ‘The City in Maps: cartographic culture and urban life’, the seminar used participant’s own contributions, together with the concept of cartography, to introduce different ways of thinking about and methods of studying culture.

Interactive and challenging throughout, participants were asked to brainstorm in small groups around the concept of ‘culture’ and encouraged to engage with questions such as ‘What is Cultural Studies?’ and, in the context of a reworking of a Hokusai image using plastics salvaged from the world’s oceans, ‘Is this beautiful?’.

Day 4 Civilization Studies

Civilization Studies was introduced on day 3 in the form of an engaging challenge for participants to consider their own history education in the context of that of other participants. Associate Professor Hitomi Koyama, led a session wherein modern history and diversity of experience took center stage, leading to a lively concluding discussion amongst members on the question of collective identity and responsibility.

Day 5 Innovation Studies

The final seminar in the series, and the second given by Professor Choi, focused on Innovation Studies.

As might be expected, the session touched upon a broad range of topics from fractal organization in business management to theories of knowledge in philosophy and artificial intelligence. Three key questions: 1. Where does knowledge come from? 2. What kinds of knowledge are there? 3. How can new knowledge be created? addressed in more detail throughout the Innovation Studies pillar, were introduced, before the professor gave a brief introduction to his own related research activities.

Participant Monica Teramoto commented at the end of the final lecture:

I really enjoyed today’s seminar because it touched on parts of my current high school course - theories of knowledge, and psychology. It made me wonder more about those topics and made me feel excited to come to the College of Global Liberal Arts.

On the campus:

I found the campus to be very modern, new, and international - with students of lots of different nationalities. It was a really nice surprise. It made me feel excited, but very comfortable at the same time.

Find out more about the Global Liberal Arts (GLA) Dual Degree Program:


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