Creating citizens of the world: Our undergraduate degree in International Social Sciences equips students with the skills to understand and interpret a changing world
Twenty-first century social, political and economic landscapes evolve at rapid rates. It’s a complex task to stay abreast of phenomena such as the collapse of the socialist regimes in Eastern Europe, the ongoing fallout from the Global Financial Crisis, and the widespread social impacts of the Fukushima disaster. The University of Tsukuba’s undergraduate program of International Social Studies provides students with rich opportunities to learn about and understand the implications of such events.
The program allows students to earn a Bachelor of Arts (International Social Sciences) through classes taught in English. It focuses on a comprehensive and multidisciplinary study of international affairs, including the study of languages other than English, and analytical methods drawn from social sciences and related fields. It gives insights into key topics in both Japanese and international social studies using a multidisciplinary approach, explains Professor Edson Urano, of the School of Social and International Studies. “The program combines contents of two Colleges that are under the umbrella of the School of Social and International Studies — the College of Social Science and the College of International Studies,” he explains. “This means students can ‘navigate’ through various interesting fields such as international relations, political science, economics, sociology and management, and specialize in a specific field in their third and fourth years of study.”
A distinctive feature of the course is that classes are small, with fewer than 20 to 50 students in each, permitting the development of in-depth discussions on a variety of key issues of the contemporary world, such as international migration, economic development, environmental issues and information society. “We make use of discussions and presentations in small groups to keep the educational process dynamic, dialectic and interesting,” Edson says.
While all classes are taught in English, students also have the opportunity to learn Japanese as a foreign language. Depending on their language proficiency, they also can take regular classes taught in Japanese.
Diversity of the course contents is matched by the backgrounds of the students taking them. “You could say we have a UN-like environment in our classes, through which we develop discussions from a multisided, multicultural and global perspective,” says Urano. “Students from all over the world have been challenging together in this endeavor, contributing for the enrichment of our course.”
“Coming to the University of Tsukuba is one of the best decisions I have taken in my entire life,” says Eric Adjepong Kwarteng, from Ghana, who has relished the opportunity to interact, learn and communicate with people from more than thirty countries and cultures. The University of Tsukuba has one of the best social and international studies programs in the country, with a large population of foreign students compared to other universities, adds Vietnamese student Huyen Thi Thanh Nguyen.
From next year, 20 students are expected to be graduating from the course each year. Most graduates so far have gone onto postgraduate study. “In the future,” Urano says, “we would expect our students to join multinational companies, top-ranked Japanese companies and international organizations.”