Meiji Gakuin University Vision for Internationalization

Vision for Internationalization 2021—
Rebuilding the foundation for internationalization: Aiming toward a multifaceted construction of international, domestic, and online internationalization

Meiji Gakuin University’s history began immediately after the opening of Japan at the end of the Tokugawa shogunate, when Dr. J.C. Hepburn, an American missionary and medical doctor, brought Western education and medical care to Japan. In particular, Dr. Hepburn’s compilation of a Japanese–English dictionary and translation of the Bible into Japanese created a foundation for Japanese people to understand other countries. He compiled Japan’s first full English–Japanese dictionary while learning Japanese through what he experienced in the course of his medical work. Meanwhile, he was involved in translating the Old and New Testament, which provided the Japanese contact with the spiritual world of Christianity through the Bible. So, since the birth of modern Japan in the early Meiji era, our University has made efforts toward international exchange, cross-cultural understanding, and language education.

In the context of this history, Meiji Gakuin University aims to develop human resources with high civic morals and knowledge from specialized and liberal arts education. In particular, we have established five educational goals under our Christianity-based educational philosophy for character building, “Do for Others”:

  1. To foster individuals who can understand and empathize with others
  2. To foster individuals endowed with analytical ability and imagination
  3. To foster individuals gifted in the art of communication
  4. To foster individuals who are able to design their own careers
  5. To foster individuals who will serve as leaders in a harmonious society

Our “Vision for Internationalization 2018” set the following numeric goals for 2025: partnership agreements with 83 schools, 800 students in study abroad programs awarding course credits, and 600 incoming international students. As of the 2019 school year, we had attained 80 partnership agreements, 514 study abroad students, and 354 incoming students. So as things stand, we have nearly met our goal for partnership agreements, but with the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic occurring from the end of the 2019 school year and into 2020, sending students abroad and accepting them from other countries has become extremely difficult and forcing us to reconsider a form of internationalization that relies on student mobility.

In a survey, students who participated in long-term study abroad during the 2019 school year highly evaluated their experience in terms of learning to communicate in a foreign language, to respect different opinions and values, to acquire knowledge and techniques for problem solving, and to strive toward achieving their goals. In other words, among the five above-mentioned educational goals, study abroad improves ability to understand others, communication skills, and playing a leading role in an inclusive society, so we can infer that the study abroad experience has an extremely high educational effect. There was also remarkable improvement regarding desire to act based on our “Do for Others” ideal.However, with regard to analytical and conceptual skills rooted in specialized and liberal arts education, and the ability to connect those skills with careers, we consider there to still be room for improvement in linking the study abroad experience to learning at Meiji Gakuin University.

Regarding future directions for internationalization, therefore, we wish to establish systems that more effectively realize the educational goals of our University, regardless of whether students plan to remain in Japan or study abroad. For students desiring to study abroad, we will develop and provide programs that minimize time and financial burdens while maximizing the effects of study abroad. For students who do not wish to study abroad, we aim to cultivate international perspectives through international collaborative courses held on University campuses and online. Achieving that will require a qualitative change in our initiatives for promoting internationalization. Considering the above-described positive evaluations regarding the educational effects of study abroad, it is of course necessary to consider expanding the scale of those programs in the long term, but we will also strive to lay a foundation for internationalization from the perspectives of various learners, including methods other than study abroad.

For several years now, we have been making efforts toward internationalization such as the following:

  1. Development of original programs with partner schools: We have developed various school-wide study abroad programs, including our University of California study abroad program, a certificate program with the University of Hawaii, double-degree program, and Global Leader Internship.
  2. Development of online teaching materials: As president’s projects, we have implemented online educational techniques such as collaborative online international learning (COIL) and massive open online courses (MOOCs).
  3. Full participation for curriculum-based study abroad programs: We have developed study abroad programs following curricula for specialized education in departments such as the Department of International Business and the Department of Global Legal Studies. Of the 514 students University-wide who participated in study abroad programs, 186 went overseas for curriculum study abroad. For language learning and specialized education, department-specific careful guidance and study abroad experiences lasting about half a year have resulted in high learning effects.
  4. “Inner Internationalization” project: This project has been developed mainly by the Faculty of Sociology and Social Work and the Center for Liberal Arts. By helping foreigners residing in Japan adapt to Japanese life and education, we are fostering perspectives of multicultural coexistence.

Based on these achievements, we pose “Rebuilding the foundation for internationalization: Aiming toward a multifaceted construction of international, domestic, and online internationalization” as our Vision for Internationalization 2021. Our goal is to create a university environment that realizes not only a single-track expansion of mobility by sending students overseas, but also an in-place internationalization that has diversified connections with learning at Meiji Gakuin University based on liberal arts and specialized education. Rather than extending or expanding conventional globalism, we hope to promote internationalization for the development of human resources having the consciousness, values, knowledge, and skills newly required in a diverse, inclusive society. In particular, we plan to create an environment in which we can cultivate international perspectives on the campuses of Meiji Gakuin University while students remain in Japan, for example by promoting joint development of online learning based on strengthening relationships with partner universities.

Four pillars for internationalization

  1. Nurture Global Citizenship: Development of University infrastructure
  2. Build Worldwide Partnerships: Strengthening relationships
  3. Offer Borderless Learning: Utilization of information and communications technologies
  4. Embrace a Diverse Community: Domestic internationalization

1. Nurture Global Citizenship: Development of University infrastructure

Alongside advancing globalization, advancements in information technology are making connections within international networks increasingly complex. As an institution for research and education, we will develop infrastructure capable of responding to future internationalization.

  • Enhanced language education
    We will measure the results of English and other foreign language education, visualize students’ achievement goals, and establish systems that support improvement over time. We will periodically introduce English proficiency tests such as TOEFL and IELTS to allow objective evaluations of foreign language proficiency according to CEFR and other international standards. We will allow students to be educated across borders and languages and to objectively recognize issues related to exploring global careers. At the same time, we will aim to enhance University-wide language education by providing incentives and support needed to raise students’ level of effort.
  • Immersion learning for English and other foreign language education
    We will provide on-campus support and rules that facilitate offering classes in foreign languages, and create systems meeting the needs of language, liberal arts, and specialized education.
  • Faculty training
    We will expand faculty training systems to realize University management from international perspectives. A little under 20% of our faculty members have obtained doctoral degrees from overseas universities, and nearly half have experience in overseas research, but internationalization of our faculty has not yet progressed from the perspective of university management. We will promote training, personnel exchanges, and information gathering in which faculty cooperate to advance internationalization.
  • Measuring the effectiveness of study abroad and international education
    We will objectively measure the extent of effects of study abroad and international education with respect to the educational goals of Meiji Gakuin University, and review infrastructure maintenance at the University while observing those effects.
  • Support for international research
    We will promote the international development, dissemination, and exchange of faculty research activities. Research that meets international standards is prerequisite to increasing the international presence of Meiji Gakuin University, so we will promote and support international joint research and symposiums.

2. Build Worldwide Partnerships: Strengthening relationships

We aim to further strengthen our cooperative partnerships and improve their quality to achieve our educational goals.

  • •We will strengthen cooperation with partner universities, create unique programs that contribute to University education, and explore individual possibilities for collaboration.
  • We will strengthen cooperation with international organizations such as the International Red Cross and the UNHCR. To allow students to play active roles in the international community and demonstrate leadership after graduation, we will develop internship programs and projects at institutions that contribute to international society. We will also explore possibilities for coordination and collaboration with private companies and NGOs.
  • We will develop programs such as field studies and volunteer training in regions around the world to provide opportunities for social contribution and global education.
  • We will look to expand collaborations to world regions that we have not previously had many partnerships with.
  • We will strengthen relations with Minato Ward (Tokyo) and Totsuka Ward (Yokohama), where our campuses are located, and with Komoro (Nagano Prefecture) and Otsuchi (Iwate Prefecture), where we have partnership agreements. We will advance internationalization, including regional collaborations, by connecting networks of current students, international students, and partner universities.

3. Offer Borderless Learning: Utilization of information and communications technologies

We will implement educational techniques using information and communications technologies (ICT) to provide students with more cross-border educational opportunities.

  • In combination with online education, we will collaborate with international organizations to enhance field studies and internships that bring students into contact with the real world, and we will create platforms for globally sharing what students learn.
  • We will improve cooperation with partner schools and other institutions in Japan and overseas, and we will create opportunities for cross-border learning and cross-cultural communication by implementing COIL.
  • We will improve the quality of international education by developing classes that incorporate online teaching materials such as MOOCs throughout the university and by analyzing learning outcomes.

4. Embrace a Diverse Community: Domestic internationalization

We will enhance curricula that promote multicultural understanding, not limited to language education such as Japanese for foreign students and English and other foreign languages for Japanese students, thus promoting international education on campus in multilingual and multicultural environments.

  • We will promote exchanges with international students and researchers with the aim of establishing a “gateway campus” that will be the starting point for a multicultural inclusive community.
  • We will promote domestic internationalization by building cooperative relationships with our “Inner Internationalization” project, International Peace Research Institute, and Institute for Christian Studies.