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Activity Group3

Critical Multiculturalism

Activity Group3
2012/03/05

“Critical Multiculturalism”

Date: January 23, 2012

Venue: Chikokan Room B103, Seta Campus, Ryukoku University

 

Group 3 has held six research meetings this year. Presented here is the third research meeting, entitled “Multiculturalism and Higher Education.” Prof. Jerry Eades of Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University (APU) gave a review and possibility of multiculturalism and academic administration, using APU as the basis. APU was founded in 2000 by the Ritsumeikan Trust, in collaboration with Oita Prefecture and Beppu City. The original concept was to create an international university unique in Japan, with half the staff and students drawn from other countries. The purpose was to develop study of the Asia Pacific region in the 21st century, in view of its economic rise, and to train future leaders of the region. The University was to be bilingual, with Japanese students studying English, and international students studying Japanese. Students would also be able to study other regional languages, including Chinese, Korean, Malay, Thai, Vietnamese and Spanish.To a large extent, the original concept was in fact realized: the proportion of international staff and students, presently drawn from nearly 100 countries, has fluctuated between 40 and 50 percent.

 

It has proved something of a model for other universities in Japan, in terms of internationalization: the government appears to have formulated its “Global 30” program with institutions like APU in mind.

 

Prof. Eades talked about the multicultural curriculum focused on ICT, Language, International Strategy, Environment and Health, and Tourism. Ultimately, he showed that students can socialize freely in APU, using a wide variety of languages, on the basis of multiculturalism and education. Toprovide a forum for these practices, the university will run courses for diversification and internationalization.

 

Prof. Robert Aspinall of Shiga University gave a presentation titled: “The Risky Business of ‘Study Abroad’: Individualization, Globalization and Crossing the Japanese Border in Both Directions.”This discussionplacedJapanese national and institutional policy regarding‘Study Abroad’ in the context of global changes and trends. Although the global trend is toward an increase in students studying abroad, the numbers of Japanese students choosing this option is stagnating. As for the number of foreign students coming into Japan, a1980splan to increase the numbers was broadly successful,but current plans for a future large increase appear to involve many problems.

 

Although government statements extol the virtues of increasing the inward and outward flow of students, official plans are often undermined by two types of obstacles. Firstly, at the institutional level, in most cases there is a great deal of reluctance on the part of academic and administrative staff to support sending students abroad or receiving students from overseas in large numbers. There are also few strong incentives to helpstaffovercome this reluctance. Secondly, individual Japanese students and their families are often risk-averse in their attitude towardoverseas study. In this area also,there aretoo fewincentives to help overcome this initialreluctance. The result is that Japan may become a “late-internationalizer” compared to countries at a similar stage of economic development.

 

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(From left) Dr. Robert Aspinall, Dr. Jerry Eades, and Dr. Greg Poole

 

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Dr. William Bradley