Toyo Eiwa University's Graduate School of International Cooperation Studies provides specialized education by fundamentally understanding the nature of international cooperation and global issues. The school has an easy-to-attend environment for working adults, and students engage in multifaceted discussions regardless of age, gender, or place of residence.
We spoke with Professor Tsuyoshi Kono, Dean of the Graduate School of International Cooperation Studies, about the characteristics of the education and the learning experiences of graduate students.

 

International cooperation is becoming increasingly important

 Toyo Eiwa University Graduate School is a coeducational graduate school for working adults. It has two graduate schools, one of which is the Graduate School of International Cooperation Studies. Now that it has been about 2 years since it was established, Professor Kono feels even more strongly about the importance of the graduate school.

"In the 1990s, when Japan's international standing was rising, our department adopted 'international cooperation' as a keyword for contributing to the world. Now, 30 years later, we are seeing an increasing number of issues that cannot be solved without global cooperation, such as global warming, poverty, and war. In fact, these problems may be occurring because the world is not cooperating."

 To deepen their understanding of international cooperation, the department has established the "Sustainable International Cooperation Course" and the "International Politics, Economics, and Area Studies Course." The Sustainable International Cooperation Course covers a wide range of topics, including the global environment, public health, and ODA. The International Politics, Economics, and Area Studies Course not only studies local conditions around the world, but also focuses on the role of companies. It considers how companies, which are deeply connected to politics and economics, should be in the international community.

 In addition, there are common basic subjects that are packed with content that forms the foundation of both courses, such as the basics of international law and the role of international organizations. Among these, the "International Society Workshop" taught by Professor Kono is a distinctive class at the graduate school.

"We thoroughly read the original text of the 30-odd pages adopted by the United Nations General Assembly regarding the SDGs. The aim is for students to gain a thorough understanding of a wide range of fields and to comprehensively consider the connections between each goal. We also encourage students to understand issues around the world and the direction of how to address them.
The SDGs were created as 17 goals, a result of debates between countries based on their national interests. This is a good example of how countries cooperated and did not cooperate. In addition, because I worked for the United Nations from 2011 until the SDGs were adopted in 2015, I also convey some parts of the discussion process that are not included in the original text.

An environment that makes it easy to balance work and study

 As a graduate school for working adults, there are many ways to help students balance work and study. One is the class hours. Classes are generally held after 18:30 p.m. on Mondays and Fridays, and from 9 a.m. on Saturdays. The campus is located in Roppongi, which is easily accessible, so it is easy for working adults who work in Tokyo to visit after work.

 In addition, all lectures are conducted in a hybrid format, combining face-to-face and online classes. Some students are attending classes not only from outside Tokyo, but also from overseas. Even graduate students who usually take classes face-to-face can participate online during busy periods at work.

"The students come from all over the world and have a wide range of backgrounds, so the classes are stimulating for the teachers as well. Opinions are expressed from a wide range of perspectives, including cases in the area where the students are staying and stories of their experiences abroad, which helps to stimulate discussion."

 There is also a credit transfer system with the Waseda University Graduate School of Social Sciences Master's Program. Classes taken at Waseda University Graduate School can be recognized up to 10 credits, making it easy to deepen your learning according to your interests.

 Furthermore, the financial burden has been reduced. The department has been certified as a "specialized practical education and training course" by the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, and approximately 70% of the entrance fees and tuition fees are paid by employment insurance up until the time of graduation.

 And the biggest feature of the program is that students can earn a master's degree not only by submitting a master's thesis, but also by submitting research results. Graduate students who wish to submit research results are required to fill out a "reading list" of books selected by faculty members each semester. Graduate students read the books on the list and submit a report critically analyzing their contents. They do this four times in total, in the first and second semesters of their first year and the first and second semesters of their second year, and finally take an oral exam based on the contents of the books.

"To write a report, students need to combine what they learned in each class. For example, if they are interested in responding to infectious diseases, they need to think about a variety of intricately intertwined issues, such as who is responding to infectious diseases and the role of hospitals in the community. This will help students realize that there are many other fields to consider in a multifaceted way, in addition to infectious diseases. In this way, students can deepen their thinking by combining a wide range of fields based on their interests."

 There are many other efforts to open up the door, such as a system that allows junior college graduates to take the entrance exam if they pass a qualification screening, and a course-taking system that allows students to take lectures before enrolling. In fact, there are students who use the course-taking system to take classes while abroad, aiming to enroll in the university after returning home. If they achieve excellent grades in the classes they are attending, the entrance exam will only require an interview. Therefore, this system can be said to function as a runway to regular enrollment.

Acquire the ability to continue learning for a lifetime

 Students who complete the graduate school expand their horizons by transferring to the international relations department of their companies or working for international organizations. Professor Kono is confident that the skills they have acquired at the Graduate School of International Cooperation Studies will serve them well anywhere, both at home and abroad.

"I believe that the ability to select sources of information, skillfully construct opinions, and advance a discussion are skills that are necessary wherever you go. Furthermore, the more you learn, the more you will realize you don't know, and your interest in society will grow. Graduate school allows you to acquire the critical thinking skills and interests that will serve as the foundation for lifelong learning.
Furthermore, the most important thing for students at our graduate school is intellectual curiosity. We welcome anyone who wants to learn, improve themselves, and compare things on a global scale."
 
 Finally, Professor Kono stated the importance of international cooperation, saying, "The world will not move in a positive direction if people do not cooperate. Cooperation may seem easy, but it is actually difficult. I hope that readers will take this article as an opportunity to think about what international cooperation is."

 Toyo Eiwa University Graduate School of International Cooperation Studies focuses on global issues with a focus on international cooperation. It offers an environment that makes it easy to balance work and studies, financial support, and a system that allows even junior college graduates to apply for admission. After graduation, you will surely acquire thinking skills and diverse perspectives that will be useful for the rest of your life.

Professor, School of International Studies and Dean, Graduate School of International Cooperation Studies, Toyo Eiwa University

Takeshi Kono

After graduating from the Faculty of Law at Doshisha University, he completed his doctoral studies at the Graduate School of Political Science at Ohio State University (obtained a PhD). After working for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the United Nations, he became a professor in the School of International Area Studies in 2016.
Areas of expertise: Comparative politics, the role of the United Nations, global and transnational issues, social movements

 

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