The Founding Spirit of Rikkyo University

When Bishop Channing Moore Williams, a missionary of the American Episcopal Church, first came to Japan in 1859, Christian missionary activities were still prohibited in this country. Pursuing his missionary duties with lofty aspiration and great devotion, Bishop Williams opened a private school to teach English and Bible studies in the foreign settlement in Tsukiji, Tokyo, in 1874. This small private school, which had enrolled only a handful of students when it first opened, was called Rikkyo School. Later changing its name to Rikkyo University (English name: St. Paul's College), the school conducted all of its classes using original texts in English. The lectures given by the missionaries were very popular and enrolment increased steadily.

When Rikkyo University was founded, Japan's primary goal was to catch up with the advanced Western nations and become materially affluent. Education was also influenced by this materialistic ideology. There was a strong trend towards providing a utilitarian education, using knowledge and technology as tools to gain material wealth and get ahead in the world. Rikkyo University was founded as a clear departure from this trend. The university was conceived not simply as a place for students to acquire knowledge, but rather as a place where they could seek the truth in order to step into an unknown world. The university formulated a policy of nurturing students who have the ability to not only unravel the unknown, but to seek out the meaning of the mysteries revealed and make use of the answers to benefit human society.

Bishop Williams is often associated with the phrase michi o tsutaete, onore o tsutaezu ("teach the way, not the self"). Williams disliked good deeds performed for the sake of appearance or to gain fame. Throughout his life, he remained devoted to his faith. From the founding of Rikkyo University to today, his beliefs have been handed down in the principles of education based on Christian values that form the founding spirit of Rikkyo University.

What is education based on Christian values? At Rikkyo, Christianity is not a straitjacket that restrains or limits the fundamental stance of the university, nor is it something that forces faith upon anyone. True Christianity liberates humans from all forms of bondage and guides them to a place where they can freely pursue the truth. What is needed above all is reverence for the truth and an attitude of humility in seeking the truth.

Bishop Reifsneider, who was Chancellor when the Rikkyo campus was moved to its present site in Ikebukuro, advocated a well-rounded education based on Christian belief, stating that "Rikkyo's philosophy of education is based on three pillars: physical education, intellectual education, and spiritual education... but the foremost of these is spiritual education." In saying this, Reifsneider warned against an overemphasis on intellectual education, promoting instead an education that provided a balance between intelligence, emotion, and the body, instilling in students the ability to love others and the sensitivity to sympathize with their suffering. Guided by educators such as Reifsneider, Rikkyo established a solid reputation as a liberal arts university where students can cultivate a broad perspective and outlook on the future, as well as comprehensive decision-making abilities.

Rikkyo University is also known as an "academy of freedom." Freedom is not, however, synonymous with chaos or arbitrariness. As a philosophy of education, freedom means giving students as much support as possible without trying to fit them into a certain mold, enabling them to develop their innate potential so it can blossom and flourish. Acquiring a higher level of learning is indispensable to the creation of something new because the knowledge we gain broadens our outlook and frees us from limitations. Rikkyo's spirit can be defined as this spirit of freedom that urges students to go beyond the superficial and strive to discover the essence of all things.

The ideology of the "academy of freedom" is apparent in every aspect of the activities at Rikkyo University. In order to address the distortions in the entrance examination system, accept students with a diverse range of backgrounds and personalities, and revitalize college education, Rikkyo University has pioneered such groundbreaking procedures as entrance to the university through recommendation, entrance examinations to the College of Law and Politics for working adults, essay-based entrance examinations that place importance on the applicant's individuality (Type B for the College of Arts), and the free selection system first introduced for entrance examinations in 1994. The unrestricted and diverse curriculum, consisting of few required courses and a large selection of electives, makes for a flexible system that allows crossover selection of courses from various faculties and departments. The General Curriculum, started in April 1997, was developed through the mutual collaboration of all the faculties to enhance the cultural level of all the students. By linking specialized educational programs with the General Curriculum, a system for nurturing students with a capacity for broad-minded thinking can be realized. As an "open" university, Rikkyo places a great deal of importance on international exchange, extension programs, and student-initiated extracurricular activities.

In order to improve the infrastructure for education and research for the 21st century, Rikkyo University has launched the Rikkyo University Comprehensive Development Plan. Development of the Niiza Campus and renovation of the Ikebukuro Campus will greatly enhance the university's facilities. In addition to these construction plans, the curriculum is currently undergoing reform and innovation. While maintaining the traditions of more than 130 years, Rikkyo University continues to advance steadily and dynamically into the future.

Philosophy

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