Message from the President

Speech by Tomoya Yoshioka at his Inauguration as President of Rikkyo University

President Tomoya Yoshioka
President Tomoya Yoshioka

The twenty-first century has thus far been the scene of immense change, which has often run counter to predictions made during the twentieth century. We are now approaching the end of the first ten years.

The very conditions for human existence have been significantly altered by recent technological developments and the rapid advancement of globalization. The growth of the Internet has created means of communication that were once inconceivable, creating a new level of information issues. Now, intellectual capacity is starting to be viewed as a faculty that should be judged by how fast and how much information can be processed.

Recalling the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center in 2001 reminds us of just how turbulent these years have been politically as well. Today we face a list of problems that remain unresolved, including wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, regional conflict in the Middle East and Africa, global environmental problems, and an ongoing worldwide financial crisis.

How are we to discover possibilities amidst these complexly entangled circumstances to shape a promising future for people and all of human society? Our intellect is once again being called into question.

Questions regarding intellect are directly related to those concerning the ideal role of our universities as educational and research facilities. We must be aware that the existential significance of universities is currently being challenged from the very foundation.

Each and every problem that we face today requires that we reorganize existing intellectual frameworks from the ground up. Environmental problems, for instance, must be dealt with by drawing on a comprehensive range of knowledge, on fields such as biology, chemistry, oceanography, and other physical sciences, as well as social sciences, legal studies, history, and economics. In 2003, a new debate on the meaning of life began after it was announced that the human genome had been successfully decoded. The tremendous impact of this advance went beyond biology, genetic engineering, and medicine to influence such fields as philosophy, ethics, and even politics.

In order to address the various problems of our modern age, we will have to form partnerships, and reorganize in a wide range of sectors while also developing new areas of research that cannot be covered by conventional fields of academic study. The most significant characteristic of these problems is the deep and direct relation they have to the foundation of all of human society. So these problems are very closely linked to the everyday lives of citizens as well.

Universities are education and research institutions responsible for continuously carrying out research in order to produce a better direction for human society. At the same time, as higher education institutions, universities must educate citizens that possess the intellect to respond to today’s problems.

However, while the problems of our modern day require a high degree of specialized research, they also necessitate the involvement of each and every citizen. The power with potential to properly handle these types of problems is the power of education—and that is what the times require. In that sense, education is needed for both the teacher and student. Education must go beyond the simple transfer of knowledge. It must be present as a common approach at the base of relationships between teacher and student as they learn and think about problems together.

Debate regarding education-related problems has taken place in various forms in recent years. Rikkyo University has remained aware of the importance of such debate since the university’s foundation, consistently placing liberal arts education at the core of its educational philosophy. Furthermore, our school’s entire core curriculum has been constructed on the basis of the philosophy embodied in such education.

However, in modern day undergraduate education, I believe that specialized education should be treated as a part of the liberal arts. Cultivating in people the ability to be receptive to the ideas of others, to think deeply about things, and to speak logically using their own words—these are skills that must be developed throughout undergraduate education.

Rikkyo University has achieved great change in the little over ten years since the end of the twentieth century until the present. It goes without saying that our future challenge lies in transforming all education and research at Rikkyo University into something of higher quality based on this change.

As mentioned before, education goes beyond the simple transmission of information. Education is a human agency that promotes growth via people tapping into each other’s various potentials. Rikkyo University was constructed with a philosophy of education based on Christianity, and the university thus treats with respect the values and beliefs of all people. This positive attitude tends to be transmitted to Rikkyo students, reflecting in their interaction with others. We must be careful that this basic mind-set is not lost as we grow in size.

One more trait cultivated by the Rikkyo University tradition is attentiveness to not becoming isolated, but always maintaining an open posture, while also emphasizing the “Rikkyo spirit.” I believe that we can further expand the potential of our university by utilizing this trait to the fullest while also extending and enriching our network of partnerships.

We have an educational connection that ties together Rikkyo Gakuin’s primary schools, junior high schools, high schools, and universities, as well as community and social partnerships that utilize education and research facilities in Niiza and Ikebukuro, together with various levels of international partnerships. I am sure that working to improve the quality of education and research through institutionalizing these partnerships in a multi-layered fashion is the key to fueling Rikkyo University’s next leap forward.

We will continue our work to bring forth our university’s many strengths and to make the concept of “freedom in education” even brighter in the new millennium.

(Presidential Inauguration. 1 April 2010)

Philosophy

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