For six days, from Monday, 23 August to Monday, 30 August 2021, the OIC Office of International Affairs hosted OPRO (Online Program in Ritsumeikan OIC). University students from overseas gathered together via ZOOM to learn about the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) in this online program welcoming short-term international students.
In the Times Higher Education (THE) Impact Rankings 2021, which were released by the British higher education journal Times Higher Education (THE), Ritsumeikan University, earning the highest rating among private Japanese universities for the second year in a row, placed 201-300 overall within their rankings. The THE Impact Rankings assess universities in terms of how their research and social outreach activities contribute to the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set by the United Nations, and universities can apply for the goals that match their respective strengths. This was the third year that THE published its Impact Rankings, and a record high 1,240 institutions from around the world were assessed.
This was the first time that OIC held such an online program welcoming international students, and it was planned with a main theme of the SDGs, which have been drawing a great amount of attention within Asia.
Field Tours with Guest Speakers
The first day of class, led by Associate Professor in Policy Science and Director of the OIC International Center, Yusuke Toyoda, allowed participants to cultivate a better overall understanding of the goals with a lecture called “Introduction to SDGs”.
On the second day, Fitrio Ashardiono, Assistant Professor in the College of Policy Science, taught “Towards Sustainable Urban Societies: Exploring the Potentials of Urban Agriculture” in cooperation with a local farmer, Mr. Nishimura, whose plots are a short distance from the Ritsumeikan University OIC Campus. The course included an online tour of Mr. Nishimura’s farming grounds, a discussion of the advantages and disadvantages of urban agriculture, and a Q&A session.
On the third day, Associate Professor in Policy Science, Francis Xavier Otieno led “Scenario Planning for Global Expansion: The Case of Machi Koba (Micro-enterprise)”in cooperation with Mr. Takamitsu, CEO of Seiko Seimitsu Co., Ltd. Participants received a live tour of the factory, and were able to learn about the current situation of machi koba and their various contributions to the SDGs by making use of the technology at which they excel. Participants also heard about how they are currently working on an automatic rearing system for edible crickets in collaboration with the company, BugMo Co., Ltd.
Participants from around Asia
This online program welcomed a total of 14 participants from China’s Jilin University, Shandong University, Qingdao University of Technology, and Donghua University and three participants from Indonesia’s Bandung Institute of Technology and Gadjah Mada University. Five students from Ritsumeikan University from India, Vietnam, Indonesia, China, and Japan also took part as education supporters – one in each of five groups – and actively enriched the classes.
The final day consisted of group presentations in which participants presented on their designated topic, talking about how to promote the SDGs in their home countries, what hindrances there might be there and how to eliminate them. Each group was able to complete a suitable presentation in just a short amount of time. As such each participant received a certificate of completion for their efforts over the course of the six days.
LIVE International Exchange with local students via ZOOM
As part of the extracurricular part of the program, participants enjoyed an international exchange with local students from Ritsumeikan University. Seven members of the SBJP Buddies (Business Management & GLA) worked to put together a plan for an online exchange, and with multiple meetings and some creativity, they were able to plan an interactive exchange. Buddies answered questions from participants while conveying the atmosphere of the area with games, self-introductions in breakout rooms, streaming a pre-filmed tour of Osaka’s Dotonbori area, and a live stream direct from the Higashiyama Area of Kyoto including a visit to Kiyomizu Temple, a food tour and introductions of souvenirs in the Ninenzaka and Sannenzaka areas.
Graduate School Information Session
Because all three faculty members leading courses in OPRO belonged to the College of Policy Science, an information session on entering the Graduate School of Policy Science was held. A first year graduate student from China, Jiarong HU, explained about her life in Japan as well as her research.
The Final Questionnaire
In the questionnaire on the final day, the participants gave a 97% satisfaction rating, 90% stated that they would like to participate in the program again, and 90% answered that they would like to go on to Ritsumeikan Graduate School.
In addition, we received many impressions from students.
- I would like you to extend the program period so that participants can think more deeply about the theme.
- It seems that I can utilize my knowledge of urban agriculture and its issues in my graduation thesis.
- Through the program, I gained particular knowledge about urban agriculture and the SDGs. It will definitely be a great help to my future.
- I have made many friends, and everyone is kind and enthusiastic. I'm glad I was able to spend time together.
- I will never forget this experience. Next time I really want to go to Japan.