Why was ICU established?
From the early years of the twentieth century, Christians in both Japan and North America prayed for the establishment of a Christian university in Japan. Their long-cherished dream finally came to fruition after the end of World War II. Reflecting on the catastrophe of war, and with strong feelings of responsibility to future generations, seeking to fulfill a committee charged with the mission to establish ICU was founded.
The official decision to establish the International Christian University was taken by the University Organization Council. These leaders of the Christian church in Japan and North America held a meeting at the YMCA Tozanso in Gotemba, Shizuoka Prefecture on June 15, 1949. The first page was thus written in the history of ICU, nourished by the wishes and prayers of those seeking to transform Japan into a country open to the world seeking to nurture individuals who can contribute actively to a peaceful future for humankind.
A spacious campus in the Musashino district of suburban Tokyo was purchased with donations from numerous companies, associations, and individuals, both Christians and non-Christian alike, living in Japan and overseas. The total value of these donations amounted to 160 million yen.
The fact that ICU could attract such generosity at a time when Japan was just beginning to recover from the war is testament to the value that Japanese people at the time placed on liberty and human rights, and their passion to cultivate individuals to serve for the peaceful development of human society. That same passion is alive and well in ICU today.
Why does ICU have the word "Christian" in its name?
ICU holds as its mission the education, based on Christian ideals, of individuals of conscience, internationally cultured and with a strong sense of citizenship in a democratic society, who will serve God and people and contribute to the establishment of lasting peace. This mission is embodied in three commitments, namely its international, Christian, and academic commitments, as clearly expressed in the name of the institution, International Christian University.
We believe a Christian institution of higher learning has a distinct contribution to make to the world. Although differences may arise in explanation, interpretation, or proposed solutions to certain human conditions, our scientific and descriptive tools are the same as those used by scholars at other institutions. We believe in responsible scholarship.
Winning adherents to the Christian faith is not ICU's goal. But we encourage our students to open their eyes to the presence and power of God in their lives and in society. Through this environment, students learn that acquiring knowledge is not an end in itself: we believe in the essential unity of knowledge, faith and action.
Why does the university's name include the word "international"?
ICU aims to cultivate capable individuals, educated as internationally minded citizens, who will serve both God and people and who will contribute to lasting peace. The "international" remains a crucial part of ICU's identity as it strives to discharge this mission, one that has remained since the university's founding.
With a view to educating internationally minded citizens, ICU proclaimed its commitment to internationalism when it was first dedicated.
"On our campus in Mitaka we will build a community that appreciates the value of different nationalities, races, and cultures. We will welcome faculty members from across the world, use both Japanese and English as the official campus languages, and open
our doors to the whole world, without regard for race, nationality, religion, or gender."
This founding principle is upheld to the present day and reflected in ICU's education, faculty profile, and campus environment.
Why such a strong focus on liberal arts?
A liberal arts education seeks to nurture students with character and a deep understanding of humanity. ICU is a pioneer of liberal arts in Japan. Liberal arts allows students to gain a broad background in both the humanities and the sciences, but at the same time encourage them to delve deeper into specialized fields, training students to think creatively and critically with a solid grounding in the real world.
In liberal arts, students are trained to make connections between and integrate seemingly unrelated fragments of knowledge. As inquisitive and active learners, they seek out knowledge beyond their own field of specialization. To this end, ICU is committed to a liberal arts education and has designed its undergraduate curriculum accordingly. ICU students develop a capacity for free and independent investigation and critical thinking, and learn to resist irrational coercion, to make rational judgments based on truth and liberty, and to take responsibility for their thought and deeds.. ICU is committed to providing the world with individuals equipped with such a sense of responsibility and the capacity to continue learning throughout life, sustained by the spirit of academic inquiry. "Expanding Potential" is the term used at ICU to express the personal growth and advancement achieved through a liberal arts education.
Why is ICU committed to the cultivation of internationally minded citizens?
The "internationally minded citizens" that ICU aims to cultivate are individuals with an open understanding of values and the initiative to continue learning throughout life. They are able to cooperate with others and contribute to peace and coexistence among humans as responsible global citizens in international and local settings, in Japan and across the world, in a variety of vocations and spheres of work, and in their personal lives.
ICU's commitment to educating internationally minded citizens is inevitable, given that the university was founded in response to wishes and prayers for the transformation of Japan into a country open to the world and for the cultivation of individuals who will contribute to peace for all humanity, based on a deep remorse for the events of World War II .
Why do all matriculating students pledge to uphold the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights?
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted at the third United Nations General Assembly on December 10, 1948. This was four and half years before ICU was dedicated.
ICU's first president Hachiro Yuasa and other founders of ICU were deeply moved by the Declaration, and they committed ICU to the cultivation of internationally minded citizens capable of transforming Japan into a country open to the world and contributing to peace for all humanity.
In order to share this commitment across the entire ICU student body, ever since the inaugural 1953 matriculation ceremony in 1953 all new students have added their signature to a pledge stating that they will uphold the principles of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights.
More than 60 years after the university's founding, this tradition remains a vibrant and fundamental part of the university and its student body.
Why does ICU practice Japanese-English bilingual education?
ICU's aim is not simply to produce fluent speakers of Japanese and English. The university seeks to cultivate individuals with an open sense of values and the initiative to continue their learning throughout life; individuals who, as responsible global citizens, can cooperate with others to contribute to peace and coexistence among all peoples in international and local settings, in Japan and across the world, in a variety of vocations and spheres of work, and in their personal lives.
The ability to communicate with people from around the world in both Japanese and English is a minimum requirement for such individuals. They must also, however, be able to identify and resolve problems, bringing together diverse knowledge from across the arts and sciences, and putting such knowledge to use in real-world situations. They must also have the ability to effectively express ideas in both oral and written communications.
For this purpose, all ICU students - regardless of whether they are majoring in the humanities, social sciences or natural sciences - are expected to engage in group work, discussion, and presentation activities in class, honing their ability to read and write logically in both Japanese and English. They constantly seek to cultivate the ability to make themselves understood by peoples around the world, integrate diverse information, and develop solutions to problems.
In today's global society, it is essential to acquire another language in addition to Japanese and English. By studying another language, students gain knowledge of unfamiliar cultures and ways of thinking, enhance their own critical thinking skills, and gain the ability to view things in a broad perspective. ICU seeks to equip students with "Japanese and English Plus One" language proficiency, by offering classes in nine other languages: German, French, Russian, Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Arabian, Italian, and Indonesian.
How do ICU students acquire world-class English proficiency at ICU?
ICU aims to cultivate individuals who can contribute to peace in international society. Therefore, students need to be able to engage with unfamiliar values and ideas unfettered by the beliefs that govern the society in which they were raised. They need to be able to search for a common language, deepen mutual understanding, and build relationships of trust. This kind of intercultural communication competence requires proficiency in both Japanese and English. Thus ICU has been fully committed to bilingual education in Japanese and English since it was founded.
One indispensable component of this bilingual education at ICU is the English for Liberal Arts Program (ELA). In addition to increasing students' facility with English, this program enhances their capacity for critical thinking and cultivates the skills necessary to study effectively at ICU. Consequently, this is an important introduction to ICU's liberal arts education.
ELA courses are conducted in small-size classes of approximately 20 students, and instructors provide thorough and attentive guidance tailored to the English proficiency and needs of each student. Students read college-level articles on topics such as intercultural communication and bioethics, discuss and present ideas and opinions, and write papers on each topic. Through such academic activities, students learn to be critical, creative, and independent thinkers. This intensive English learning environment prepares students to take liberal arts courses in English after they finish the ELA.
Why do the Japanese skills of international students and students who have diverse language backgrounds at ICU improve so dramatically?
To learn and conduct research in ICU's bilingual environment is the challenge given to all of ICU students of diverse backgrounds, from degree-seeking regular 4-year students to international exchange students and graduate students, who have gathered from some 50 countries and regions around the world.
One thing that helps them to achieve this is our Japanese Language Programs (JLP).
Based on the results of a placement test, students are placed into one of two tracks: Japanese as a Foreign Language or Japanese as a First/Heritage Language. They are then divided into classes within those tracks depending on their level of Japanese proficiency.
Classes are small, with no more than 20 students, and students also have one-to-one tutorial sessions with JLP teaching staff. These tutorials give students opportunities to gain feedback on assignments/tests and students can ask questions about what they did not understand in class. Through this individualized education, we aim to nurture in our students the Japanese language ability needed both on and off-campus by the time they complete the program.
Why does ICU have student exchange agreements with 72 universities in 23 countries?
ICU's founding philosophy embraces a supra-national perspective. The university has a long history of international student exchange, including an exchange program with the University of California that has been operating for fifty years. With the aim of providing its students with opportunities to study in institutions of higher education across the world, ICU has entered into partnership agreements with a total of 72 universities in 23 different countries and regions (as of January, 2018) and developed its own distinctive study abroad programs. Students have a wealth of opportunities to study outside Japan, with student exchange programs catering for around one quarter of the total student enrollment of 620 at each year level.
Thanks to their experience in classes, dormitory life, and dialogue with faculty and students from around the world at ICU, students achieve a rapid and trouble-free adjustment to their student life abroad.
By taking the same classes as local students in the host institution, ICU students can have the credits they earn on exchange transferred back to ICU to enable graduation within the standard four-year period.* The whole undergraduate curriculum at ICU is designed to enable students to pursue learning opportunities abroad.
Aside from student exchange, there are many study abroad programs running over the summer break. These include the Study English Abroad Program involving intensive study of the English language, the Summer Study Abroad Programs allowing students to indulge their academic interests, and International Service-Learning involving a combination of academic studies and volunteer/service activities at non-government organizations and public authorities outside Japan. More than 60 percent of ICU students have experienced at least one of these diverse study abroad programs by the time they graduate.
*Subject to a screening process after returning to ICU.
Why has ICU produced so many international public servants?
In the more than 60 years since its foundation, approximately 28,000 graduates have passed through ICU's gates. Due to our commitment to small-group education, this is certainly not a large number, but people often say that, no matter where they go in the world, they encounter ICU alumni. In particular, many ICU alumni are working at the United Nations and at international NGOs.
One reason for this may be that ICU's mission, the establishment of an academic tradition of freedom and reverence based on Christian ideals, and the education of individuals of conscience, internationally cultured and with a strong sense of citizenship in a democratic society, has much in common with the mission of the United Nations described in the UN Charter.
Why does ICU hold matriculation ceremonies in April and September and commencement ceremonies in March and June?
ICU is a university that has opened its doors to the world. It accepts all students equally and without distinction, including domestic Japanese students, international students, and returnee students, regardless of ethnicity, religion, or nationality. To achieve this, since 1955, ICU has always welcomed students who studied in the Japanese education system in April and those who studied abroad in September, and held commencement ceremonies for these respective cohorts in March and June.
However, as diversity has increased, more students entering in April require Japanese language study, and a growing number of September enrollees need to improve their English language skills. Therefore, ICU has introduced admission systems that will allow students to choose to enter in either April or September, depending on their linguistic and educational background.
To ensure that students are able to take the same classes no matter when they enroll, ICU's academic year is divided into three terms―April-August, September-November, and December-March. Each of these terms is independent of the others and courses are completed in a single term.
Why is ICU internationally recognized as a liberal arts university?
There are a number of universities in Japan pursuing liberal arts education, each employing its own approach to teaching and learning.
ICU, however, is the only Japanese member of the Global Liberal Arts Alliance, a group of 29 liberal arts colleges in 15 countries worldwide. ICU has gained membership of the Global Liberal Arts Alliance because its programs span the humanities, social sciences and natural sciences, and because it offers the kind of environment that is essential for genuine liberal arts education, with features such as dialogue-oriented classes, courses taught in English, and a high proportion of foreign faculty members.
ICU will use this alliance and other means to strengthen its partnerships with universities across the world and achieve further advancements in global liberal arts.
Why has ICU maintained dialogue-oriented classes ever since it opened?
The university has maintained a commitment to dialogue-oriented classes ever since its founding, in the belief that learning in small groups is an essential part of a good liberal arts education. "Dialogue" is the heart of learning at ICU. Sustaining constant dialogue among students and between students and faculty members helps make academic topics more concrete and allows students to learn at a deeper, more specialized level.
The "dialogue" extends well beyond the classroom itself. ICU employs systems such as "comment sheets" in which students reflect upon the day's class and write out any questions they could not ask in class. Faculty "office hours" are set in which students can visit their faculty and ask questions outside normal class hours. These diverse forms of "dialogue" yield positive learning outcomes, and in the natural course of their learning students acquire the kind of presentation skills that are essential to succeed in the world of work.
Why don't students decide on their majors until the end of second year?
ICU uses the major system to enable students to identify and pursue their genuine academic interests. Students develop their basic academic abilities through a wide range of courses during their first and second years, gradually narrow their fields of interest, then choose their majors before starting their third year of studies. A trimester system involving six rounds of course selection in the first two years provides students with ample opportunity to identify potential fields of interest.
Based on the idea of allowing students time to learn broadly and explore different possibilities for specialization, this kind of educational system is far from rare outside Japan. It is also during this period of exploring that students build their intellectual foundations in terms of reasoning and approaches to knowledge. These are universal abilities applicable throughout life, and can be used to extend into other topics of learning in changing times.
Students who enter ICU unsure as to what major to pursue can uncover their true passions as they pursue actual studies in line with their interests. Such studies can also yield encounters with new fields of interest. Advancing your studies while weighing up your own interests and aptitudes at university: this is what the major system at ICU is all about.
Why does ICU offer as many as 31 majors?
As instilled in these words, ICU offers a diverse range of academic fields to enable students to discover what they truly want to study.
In addition to traditional academic areas such as literature, physics, and psychology, ICU's 31 majors also include areas with a problem-solving focus or regional-research focus, such as "Peace Studies" and "American Studies." Each field comprises a group of courses, equivalent to a faculty in other universities, arranged to enable students to systematically study one's area of specialization.
Art and Cultural Heritage, Music, Literature, Philosophy and Religion, Economics, Business, History, Law, Public Policy, Politics, International Relations, Sociology, Anthropology, Media, Communication and Culture, Biology, Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics, Information Science, Language Education, Education, Linguistics, Psychology, American Studies, Asian Studies, Development Studies, Environmental Studies, Gender and Sexuality Studies, Global Studies, Japan Studies, Peace Studies
It is very common among ICU students for the area they intend to study before they enroll and the area they ultimately end up studying to be different. Students who, until high school, thought they were suited to the humanities often develop an interest in a science major and move on to conduct research in that major.
When deciding on a major, students are encouraged to expand their potential in a proactive way, seeking advice from faculty advisors, the Academic Planning Center, and other avenues of assistance along the way.
Why do around 900 students - 30 percent of the total student population - live on campus?
The combined capacity of all ICU's dormitories is around 900, or 30 percent of the total student population. This is evidence of the university's desire to give as many students as possible an experience of dormitory life.
At ICU, student dormitories are "a place where students study and practice liberal arts." Through dialogue as they live together in a community, students gain a respect for human rights and diversity, and learn about the sharing and assigning of responsibilities. Japanese and non-Japanese students live together, engaging in discussion, gaining an appreciation for one another's differences, and exploring solutions cooperatively. These experiences contribute greatly to their growth as individuals and as international citizens. The encounters with other dormitory residents from Japan and overseas, and the four years spent living communally with them, provide students with lifelong friendships and greatly expands their potential after graduating from ICU.
Why is it necessary to have such a large campus?
The size of the campus is also closely related to ICU's tradition of liberal arts education. Aliberal arts education seeks to nurture students with character and a deep understanding of humanity The environment in which students spend their four years of undergraduate education is thus of crucial significance.
In addition to classroom buildings, ICU's campus facilities include a library, physical education center, dining hall, auditorium, museum, and chapels. All student dormitories are located on campus, as are many faculty residences. This relaxed and spacious campus encourages free discussion and dialogue beyond differences in nationality and status, enables encounters and stimulating exchanges with colleagues holding a diverse range of values, and allows students and faculty members to pursue their studies together sharing a common living environment. It is in this environment that students grow into mature individuals and learn the value of maintaining sincere human relationships based on mutual trust. A spacious campus rich in natural beauty is essential to this learning process.
Why does ICU place such value on diversity?
The type of internationally minded citizen that ICU aims to cultivate is one who, with an open sense of values, will work together with people from countries around the world and Japan and contribute to the peace and co-existence of the human race. Achieving this aim requires a campus in which students can recognize each other's differences in nationality, race, culture, and other values, collaborate from universal, humanistic standpoints, and put conciliation into practice.
ICU has adopted a variety of programs for the selection of students, through which it accepts students from all over the world. We also recruit faculty from various countries around the world by advertising internationally. We ask our students to lead lives that adhere to the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and, through the establishment of Basic Policies for the Prevention of Human Rights Violations, we strive to ensure a campus in which everyone can feel reassured. All of these endeavors, and others, are designed to cultivate internationally minded citizens, which is why we place such value on diversity.
Why are there chapels on the ICU campus?
The ICU Church was established in 1954 as an ecumenical, community church that also welcomes people from outside the university, and is seen as the heart of ICU. There are two chapels on campus―the University Chapel and Seabury Memorial Chapel. The latter was named in honor of the American youth educator and missionary, Ruth Seabury.
ICU believes that human growth is essential to cultivating truly internationally minded citizens, a mission we have held since the university's founding. We also believe that faith has a major role to play in that growth. The chapels at ICU are a manifestation of our mission that is academic pursuits supported by a Christian view of humankind. They stand for prayer to God that always lies at the heart of ICU, including its ceremonies of matriculation, commencement, and other ceremonies.
Why do all ICU students take an "Introduction to Christianity" course?
The General Education Course, Introduction to Christianity, is ICU's only college-wide mandatory course. Because all students take the course, it is offered in both Japanese and English. ICU's Introduction to Christianity aims to have students understand the basics of Christianity, consider its ideological significance and issues, and perceive Christianity in relation to other religions and cultures. This course could be described as the embodiment of ICU's founding ideals.
These are learning goals of the course as described in one syllabus.
What is Christianity for me? This course expects students to express their understanding in convincing words, whether it be affirmative or doubtful. This also means to ask how we can respond to the ideological challenges that Christianity poses in the modern world. In this course, students will be evaluated not on their faith or on how much knowledge of Christianity they gained, but on their ability to think critically and to apply their knowledge to solving problems.
Why does ICU offer such an extensive range of scholarships?
ICU was founded at a time when Japan's post-War reconstruction had only just begun, by donations made by benefactors with a strong wish to cultivate people who would respect freedom and human rights and serve the peaceful development of human society.
That wish continues to be passed down today, with some scholarship programs maintained by the donations of alumni who also want to give more people the opportunity to experience learning at ICU. ICU offers a variety of other scholarships and financial aid programs in order to actively support talented students with a drive to learn, and to ensure that students' education is not impeded by financial hardship.
The Japan ICU Foundation (JICUF), a public charity based in New York, is dedicated to supporting activities to advance the university's international commitments and nurture Christian spirit, in order to realize a true liberal arts education at ICU. JICUF is also playing a role in improving our scholarship system by offering its own scholarships and other programs for our students.
Why does ICU have Basic Policies for the Prevention of Human Rights Violations?
As a university that values the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, ICU takes as its responsibility the securing of a safe campus for its community members to live and work, by providing an educational, research and working environment free from human rights violations. For this reason, discrimination on the basis of such things as gender, race, nationality, origin, religion, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression or disability, and any harassment that takes advantage of one's position or standing, regardless of the form it takes, is unacceptable.
For this reason, in 1998, ICU established its Basic Policies for the Prevention of Human Rights Violations. Under these policies, a Human Rights Committee and Human Rights Counselor Program have been established, and human rights awareness activities and consultation programs are conducted. All members of the campus community are expected to fully understand the internationality and the Christian spirit that ICU stands for and work together to create a pleasant campus.
Why does ICU have an Environment Mission Statement?
Care and consideration for all life is the foundation of the Christian spirit. To fulfill our responsibilities as a Christian liberal arts institution that aims to cultivate trustworthy global citizens, ICU established the ICU Environment Mission Statement in 2006.
We engage in thorough management of the campus environment according to the basic policies established under the Mission Statement. These include paying respect and consideration to the campus environment in all our activities and making efforts to maintain campus ecosystems. Further, all members of the campus community are expected to have a deep awareness that their actions affect the local and global environment in which we live and to be responsible for the protection of that environment. We strive to ensure that the extraordinary natural beauty and precious cultural heritage of our environment are passed on to future generations as assets that have been bestowed on us from above.
Why does ICU have a Basic Policy for Students with Special Needs?
One feature of the Christian liberal arts institution of ICU is that, standing by the principles of the United Nation's Universal Declaration of Human Rights, we strive to maintain an environment in which all students can learn on the basis of equal opportunity, without any discrimination and with dignity. To further advance this initiative and to realize the university's ideals in contemporary society, we established the ICU Basic Policy for Students with Special Needs in 2007.
ICU is pursuing the establishment of a campus environment that will secure opportunities for those with disabilities to participate in learning, teaching, research, and other related activities equally alongside those without disabilities. Specifically, an Office of Special Needs Supports Services (SNSS) has been established under the supervision of the Associate Director of the Center for Teaching and Learning. The SNSS acts as an intermediary between students and faculty to provide a variety of support services, including coordinating requests for necessary accommodations, requests for translation of textbooks and other materials into Braille, and note-taking support in class.
By completing the necessary procedures, interested students can receive a wide variety of learning support from SNSS office staff members and, as necessary, class instructors, Student Supporters, and other ICU departments.
Why are so many ICU classes not lectures but discussion and dialogue-oriented?
The majority of classes at ICU embrace interactive discussion and dialogue, rather than one-way lectures. This is because an education that requires students to be constantly thinking leads to deeper learning and more effective study.
In these discussions, students develop the ability to interpret and understand the task at hand objectively and accurately, without subjectivity, and to constantly analyze critically the logic of arguments and the appropriateness of information. As well as analyzing their own arguments critically, learning together and exchanging views with others, while respecting the views of other students of diverse backgrounds, should nurture in students an open sense of values and develop the ability to engage in lifelong learning as an intentional learner.
Why are ICU's matriculation and commencement ceremonies held in the University Chapel?
ICU holds its matriculation and commencement ceremonies in the University Chapel. This is because acknowledgement of the self-transcending God serves as the bedrock for both the matriculation ceremony, where true learning starts with the students' pledge, and the commencement ceremony, a point of departure for graduates who take what they have gained to contribute to the future of the world.
At the matriculation ceremony, students sign a pledge to spend their years at ICU based on the principles of the United Nation's Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and at the commencement ceremony, each graduate is presented with their degree and exchanges a firm handshake with the President of the university. These ceremonies beginning and end of student's life at ICU, cradled in prayer, that all endeavors of the university might continue to be truly humane.
Why is Chapel Hour attendance not mandatory at ICU?
At ICU, a weekly service known as Chapel Hour takes place every Wednesday at lunchtime during the term. As a general policy, no classes, lectures, or any other events are held by the university at this time. Attendance is optional. This policy is a manifestation of the university's values which upholds freedom in all service attendance ever since its founding.
Inviting students to encounter the Christian spirit at ICU means inviting them to face and be in dialogue with questions that Christianity has raised throughout history, for these questions continue to challenge humanity at its deepest roots even today. This is possible only through freedom of conscience and responsibility of each individual.
We hope that our students will make active use of the freedom they have been given and explore their life's dream of "serving God and humanity."
Why does ICU actively hold organ concerts at the University Chapel?
ICU's main Rieger organ was installed in the University chapel in 1970, and has been used for regular concerts ever since. By the end of 2017, it had been used in a total of 314 public concerts, making ICU one of Japan's leading university organ concert venues. These concerts are organized by the Sacred Music Center, and students are also able to take private lessons on ICU's three pipe organs. Our concerts feature leading organists from Japan and abroad, and many young performers featured at ICU concerts have gone on to illustrious careers around the world.
The Sacred Music Center also organizes a range of concerts, events and public lectures, most of which are open to the public.
Why does the ICU Church hold weddings for non-Christian alumni?
Many of our alumni have held their weddings at the ICU chapel over the years. The ICU Church holds these wedding ceremonies as important milestones in their lives, praying for God's blessing and hoping to share in the process of learning and witnessing the solemn vows.
It would be our greatest joy if these wedding ceremonies will also offer ICU alumni another opportunity after graduation to encounter and further their understanding of the spirit of Christianity.
Why are one-third of faculty members non-Japanese?
Fostering internationally minded citizens requires an environment in which people of diverse nationalities and cultural backgrounds can interact and learn together with a view to cultivating flexible value outlooks. Moreover, world-class education can only be achieved where faculty members are gathered from all over the world.
It is for this reason that ICU seeks to have a diverse cross-section of nationalities and cultures in its faculty body. A global open application process has been used to recruit full-time faculty members ever since the university was founded, and today one-third of the university's full-time faculty members have nationalities other than Japanese. This proportion of foreign faculty members is high even by international standards.
Moreover, as many as 90 percent of ICU's Japanese faculty members have education and research experience outside Japan. Around 60 percent of the faculty earned their doctoral degrees at foreign universities.
This diversity generates many crossovers between individual and scholarly "nationalities," such as a Bulgarian faculty working on the Tale of Genji, a Hungarian faculty teaching Japanese history, and a Japanese faculty teaching American literature in English. Such an environment promises many encounters with new and unfamiliar ideas and values.
Why are ICU students encouraged to write their senior thesis in English?
All ICU students are required to write a senior thesis. As well as being the culmination of their four years of study, this thesis also puts the final finishing touches to their bilingual education in Japanese and English. It represents a chance for our students to put the knowledge and cognitive thinking abilities they have nurtured to the test.
Writing their senior thesis in English will not only test the knowledge and cognitive thinking abilities they have acquired. It will also confirm that they have acquired the ability to speak and write logically in both Japanese and English, a skill that is needed for talented individuals with the power to communicate in international society.
35.1% of the class of AY2016 wrote their senior theses in English. We will raise that percentage to 45% by the 2023 academic year. We are pursuing a number of initiatives to achieve this target, such as the establishment of a new natural sciences academic writing course in the English for Liberal Arts Program, enhancement of courses delivered in English, and the commencement of proofreading support for senior theses written in English.
Why does ICU not have an English-only path to graduation?
Just as Japanese students experience a world different from their own through study abroad, the ICU campus serves as a place for students who have come from overseas to experience "Japan" and question their own beliefs and values. This is why ICU offers no "English-only" programs that allow students to graduate without taking classes in Japanese. Students are provided a thoroughly bilingual education in both Japanese and English.
Why do more than 60% of ICU students study abroad?
ICU is a university that aims to cultivate truly internationally minded citizens. In the belief that giving students the opportunity to study at higher education institutions in other countries is essential to achieving that aim, ICU has encouraged its students to participate in study abroad programs since the early days of its foundation.
Today, ICU offers a range of study abroad programs for students to choose from according to their desired duration and objective. These include programs that are held over the summer break, such as the Study English Abroad (SEA) and the Summer Study Abroad programs, one-year Exchange Programs at overseas universities, and International Service-Learning, which allows students to make use of their learning overseas.
Every year, more than 450 students, approximately 15% of the student body, use these programs to study overseas and to earn credit. This means that more than 60% of our students will have experienced study abroad by the time they graduate.
Why are ICU students still able to graduate in four years even if they study abroad on the exchange program?
The aim of ICU's exchange programs is not to study a language but to deepen one's learning in the liberal arts by taking classes together with local students.
For this reason, with approval, students may credits obtained at their host university be approved for a maximum of 40 credits transferred as credits to be put toward their degree, allowing them to graduate in four years.
ICU currently has partnership agreements with 72 top-level universities in 23 countries and regions (as of January 2018). The highlight of our exchange programs is that, as well as taking courses in the same area as their own major to deepen their specialized learning, students are able to take classes that are not offered at ICU. With exchange program places available for about one-quarter of the 620 students in each year level, many of our students head off to study abroad every year.
Why is liberal arts such a hot topic right now?
In recent years, more and more leading figures in society have advocated the value of a liberal arts education. There are several reasons for this trend. One is that global-scale problems such as environmental degradation and race relations are becoming more and more acute, and their resolution requires flexible, free-thinking approaches that go beyond narrow specialization. Another is that to build a sustainable society we need responsible global citizens capable of transcending differences in race, nationality, ideology and culture. Yet another reason is that advances in cutting-edge fields such as genetic engineering have ushered in a new era in which even living organisms can be designed. In this era we need to explore new disciplinary approaches spanning the arts and sciences. A further reason is that today, it is not only people and goods that move around the world: knowledge and information are circulated globally and instantaneously. This calls for a radical re-consideration of university education and research, and the formulation of new curricular programs aligned with the changes underway.
Liberal arts addresses both traditional and contemporary academic disciplines and seeks to integrate general and specialist education. Liberal arts encourages students to acquire broad insights into the question of how to live one's life and build a solid outlook on the world and human existence. The time has come to think seriously about what makes liberal arts so important.
Why do ICU students love to learn?
That is because learning at ICU is fun. Through learning, they learn how to think well to live well, to practice what they learn in the community, and new worlds that they have never experienced are opened up to them.
Our students borrow an average of 50.6 books from the ICU library every year, which is six times the national average. This figure is testament to the fact that ICU students love learning to a degree completely beyond the common wisdom of other Japanese universities.
At other universities, courses run for a full year or a semester and classes are held once a week for 90 minutes. ICU, however, operates on a trimester system and most courses have three 70-minute classes a week. This enables students to study a subject intensively each trimester. In the classroom, students discuss topics across the humanities and the sciences with students from diverse year levels and specializations. This creates encounters with unexpected beliefs and values, which can shake up their own beliefs.
As a result, when students come to decide on their major at the end of their second year, many of them want to know more about many things. Their curiosity overflows and they come to love their studies even more.
Why do ICU students love to debate?
"Critical" does not mean to criticize others' opinions but to re-examine with a critical mind the foundations and common wisdoms of one's own opinions. That is why it is important that students have classmates and teachers who have been raised in different environments and who have different values from their own.
Debate is not about vanquishing the other person; It is a means of scrutinizing one's own beliefs and developing them into something with which they can obtain the empathy of the other person. Often, in class, the teacher's questions prompt the students to start debating with each other, and their eyes are opened to new commonalities that nobody had noticed before. Both parties are able to deepen their thinking, which is something they enjoy. That is why ICU students keep debating even after class is over --on the lawn, in the dining hall, even in the bus on the way home.
Why are there so few large classrooms on ICU's campus?
ICU has always practiced liberal arts education with the objective of cultivating truly internationally minded people, and small-group education is essential to delivering a high-quality education. This is why, compared with other universities, ICU has only a limited number of large classrooms that will hold large numbers of students.
Why do ICU faculty all have "office hours?"
ICU pays respect to each and every one of its students as unique individuals. We believe that communication requires thinking and that it will lead to deeper learning and highly effective study.
Faculty office hours are one policy that we have put into practice based on these beliefs.
In principle, each member of the faculty has at least two set hours a week during which students can visit them in their lab outside of class time to ask questions freely. Students can consult with faculty and ask questions about anything, such as topics that were raised in class, study plans, and their own career. Some students use office hours to find out whether they will be able to learn what they want to learn in a certain course before deciding whether or not to take that course.
This is a unique feature of ICU's small-group education policy, which has a student-to-teacher ratio of just 18 to 1.
Why does ICU place importance on general education courses, as well as specialized courses?
It is common at many universities to have courses, called foundation courses or liberal arts courses, in which students study a wide range of topics before they start studying the specialization they chose before enrolling, without being bound by that specialization, to nurture the academic foundations they will require to study in their specialized curriculum.
ICU has a similar group of courses, which we call general education courses, consisting of humanities, social sciences, and natural science courses. At ICU, however, students do not decide on a major until the end of their second year, so the significance of these courses differs greatly from that of other universities. The purpose of our general education courses is not to study the academic foundations premised on a specialization; instead, we see them as an important opportunity for students to encounter the essence of a variety of academic domains, discover for themselves which area they truly want to study, and acquire the tools necessary to approach their chosen field from various perspectives.
Avoiding an over-emphasis on knowledge acquisition, ICU's general education courses allow students to continue learning throughout their lives on campus so they can grow as a person, and to give fresh thought to the society we live in today from the perspectives of the respective domains of humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences.
Hachiro Yuasa, the founding president of ICU, had this to say in a paper called "ICU and General Education."
'ICU's emphasis on general education is based on reflection and criticism of the state of universities in the pre-War period and of society's expectations of universities. Universities are, in essence, educational institutions, and places for character building. One of the great post-War discoveries is the view of universities that they have a mission to cultivate capable, moral citizens who have the ability to take responsibility.' President Yuasa went on to describe the ideal image of a university graduate. 'A university graduate should not only have acquired specialized knowledge and skills, but should also be a person of character and an individual human being of common sense and good conscience.' How to think and how to live. Our general education courses give our students the opportunity to think about these two questions.
Why is it possible to select courses across both the arts and sciences?
Liberal arts education involves learning across different academic disciplines and transcending the boundaries between the arts and the sciences.
ICU uses a unique system to enable students to explore different academic areas and find the ones that they want to pursue at deeper levels. Under this system, students are able to cultivate their basic academic abilities through a wide range of courses during their first and second years, gradually narrow their fields of interest, and then choose their majors before starting their third year.
Pursuing a specialization after acquiring broad-ranging knowledge across the arts and sciences enables creative thinking with a solid, extensive grounding in real expertise. It also fosters a capacity to integrate the diverse knowledge and information essential to achieve solutions to the various problems arising in our complex, globalized society.
The capacity for students to study both the arts and the sciences is a crucial foundation for ICU's success in cultivating internationally minded citizens ever since its foundation.
Why do ICU students need to design their own study plans?
At ICU, each and every student is respected as a unique individual. The greatest feature of liberal arts at ICU is an academic freedom that transcends the existing boundaries between the sciences and the humanities. It is our hope that this academic freedom will give students the opportunity to encounter the academic field that they truly want to study and become "intentional learners" who are personally invested in making the most of their learning opportunities.
For this reason, it is left to the students' free will to design their own study plan leading to graduation, such as what kind of courses to take, which majors to choose, and whether to undertake service learning or to apply for an international exchange.
Naturally, we have various support systems in place to guide students along as they take advantage of the academic freedom that ICU offers. These include the Faculty Advisor system, in which every student is assigned a full-time faculty member to serve as the student's advisor, and the Academic Planning Support, where students can receive advice from advising staff and student advisors about choosing courses and majors and other academic issues. Through these kinds of support for academic freedom from enrollment to graduation, we hope that students will spread their wings and explore their own hidden potential.
Why has ICU adopted a trimester system?
The academic year at ICU is divided into three trimesters, with each course lasting one trimester term. At universities that separate the academic year into two semesters, students only have eight opportunities to select courses over their four-year academic careers. Thanks to the trimester system, however, ICU students have 12 chances to choose courses. This allows for a dynamic learning experience, where students can design their own curricula as their interests change and develop. The majority of courses have multiple classes per week, which means that students can learn more intensively than classes at other universities that meet only once a week.
Having a term that starts in September also gives students who have been educated in an overseas school system a smoother entry into university.
Why is each class at ICU only 70 minutes long?
Classes at ICU are only 70 minutes long, but what sets ICU apart from most other universities is that each course has multiple classes per week. In most courses, students study in class three times a week, that is, for 210 minutes. Some courses may meet on three separate days, such as Monday, Wednesday and Friday, while other courses that involve practical exercises, experiments and the like may hold three classes consecutively on the same day.
The more concentrated learning that this system provides entrenches what students learn more quickly and deepens their learning.
Moreover, classes do not start with a review of what was covered in the previous class. Between classes, students are expected to complete a variety of tasks, such as reading the literature, writing essays, and discussing the topics with their friends and in groups. This makes their learning a continuous process and allows it to become even deeper.
Why are ICU students able to choose multiple fields, such as double majors or a major-minor?
One feature of ICU is that every student is respected as a unique individual. This does not change when it comes to choosing a major. We have a range of ways of choosing that will enable students to use their own free will to decide how they will study their majors and what combinations of the 31 majors they will study.
Students can choose to concentrate on a single major, complete two different majors simultaneously as a double major, or study two areas with different weightings in a major-minor configuration. Depending on what kind of major students choose, the breakdown of credits they will need to obtain by graduation will differ.
Students are able to design their own learning by themselves. This free, expansive learning at ICU will show students the enjoyment of learning and turn them into people who will continue to learn and grow for the rest of their lives.
Why do all ICU students write a senior thesis?
At ICU, students in their final year take a year to conduct their graduation research on a topic of their own choosing and compile it into a thesis as the culmination of their learning. Some universities have recently made the senior thesis optional, but in the belief that it is an extremely important way of testing the knowledge that students have acquired and the thinking abilities that they have cultivated over their four years at university, ICU expects all of its students to complete a senior thesis.
This policy, which has continued since the university was first founded, will not change into the future.
We have recently launched a program in which students can receive guidance for their senior thesis at the University of Tsukuba or the College of Wooster, an American liberal arts college, providing an environment for students to engage in research in more diverse fields.
Why can ICU students take certain courses at other institutions like the University of Tsukuba and Tokyo University of Foreign Studies?
ICU works cooperatively with other universities in Japan with the aim of further promoting education and research.
The partnership with the University of Tsukuba allows ICU students to undertake senior thesis in such fields as medicine and health care, sports science, and the fine arts. Meanwhile, the partnership with Tokyo University of Foreign Studies (TUFS) encompasses a credit transfer system allowing ICU students to take designated courses for credit, as well as a mutual library use agreement.
ICU will continue to expand its partnerships with other universities into new fields of learning and research.
Why do faculty members live on campus?
Just as the student dormitories are the places where students can study and practice liberal arts, the entire ICU campus is considered as an educational space. The large number of faculty members living on campus promises numerous opportunities for dialogue between students and faculty, promotes interpersonal exchange beyond the academic dimension, and creates a more cosmopolitan campus environment for the ICU community.
Faculty residences have spacious living areas, making it easy to invite students to visit. With events such as open house, reading circles, and barbecue parties, faculty and students live in close proximity even beyond the classroom environment.
Why do ICU students use bicycles to get around campus?
ICU's campus is about 30 minutes by train and bus from Shinjuku Station. Once you alight from the bus, you are immediately surrounded by such lush greenery you will not believe you are still in metropolitan Tokyo. Our campus is located amid the natural surroundings of Musashino, where the beauty of all four seasons can be enjoyed. With an area of about 620,000 square meters, it is equivalent to 13 Tokyo Domes. It is even bigger than Tokyo Disneyland.
Student dormitories and faculty and staff residences are scattered around the University Hall and research facilities, which are surrounded by the rich natural beauty known as "the forest of Mitaka," and it can take some time to get from place to place on campus. For this reason, many students use bicycles to move between facilities.
Current students and alumni alike are united in their view that bicycles are the most convenient form of transport on campus.
Why is Taizansō, one of Japan's Registered Tangible Cultural Properties, located on the ICU campus?
Taizansō is the name of a group of buildings built here in Mitaka by Keisuke Yamada, former Chief Auditor of Nissan Zaibatsu, as a holiday villa where he could hold tea ceremonies away from the city with a view of Mt. Fuji. The buildings that make up the Taizansō complex, namely the Front Gate, main house, Shoin, Machiai, Kōfūkyo, Storehouse and Garage, were newly built or moved to their current location in around 1936. Records of the first tea ceremony at the complex, which took place at a time when war was casting a shadow over the nation, show that it was attended by some influential figures from the political and business communities, such as the diplomat, Yōsuke Matsuoka, and military commander, Count Hisaichi Terauchi. Soon after, however, Taizansō passed from the Yamada family into the hands of its next owners. In 1940, the Nakajima Aircraft Company purchased large tracts of land in the vicinity, and the company's founder, Chikuhei Nakajima, took Taizansō as his own residence. There, he spent his remaining years from the war years until his death not long after the war.
In 1950, ICU chose the Nakajima Aircraft Company premises as the site for the dedication of the university, and Taizansō, which had miraculously been spared from the destruction of the war, came into ICU's possession. Since the university's dedication and founding in 1953 to the present day, Taizansō has been maintained and managed as a facility of the university. Unfortunately, the main house was lost in a fire in 1966, but the six remaining buildings were designated Registered Cultural Properties in 1999 for their historical value.
Through a series of coincidences and good fortune throughout its history preceding ICU's founding, Taizansō has been preserved on campus in its original state.
Why is ICU's admission system open to people with various educational backgrounds around the world?
The first president of ICU, Hachiro Yuasa, was fond of saying that there were no foreigners at ICU. What this assertion of his represents is that students of any nationality are welcome and are treated equally at ICU. Regardless of their language and cultural background, students from different parts of the world study together and interact with each other in group discussions and course projects in classes, some of which are taught in English and others in Japanese.
Based on the educational philosophy of cultivating responsible global citizens, ICU seeks to admit students irrespective of nationality who are motivated to strive academically and personally at ICU. For this reason, ICU's admissions procedures are different from those of most other institutions in Japan. Since the university does not require applicants to be proficient in both Japanese and English, there are different application procedures for students educated within the Japanese-medium educational system and for students educated outside this system. For example, applicants for April/September Admissions by Documentary Screening are to undergo the process all in English, including the submission of the Educational Certification such as SAT, ACT, IB, GCE-A levels and other national examination certificates leading to university entrance. There are also other types of admission categories conducted in Japanese.
Why does ICU seek students from throughout the world who possess the following qualities?
- Intellectual curiosity and creativity that transcend disciplinary boundaries
- Sound judgment based on powers of logical, critical thinking
- Global communication skills necessary for dialogue with people from different cultural and linguistic backgrounds
- Self-motivated individuals who identify, solve, and engage real world problems
Founded on the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, ICU aims to cultivate "responsible global citizens" who will contribute to world peace and to help people from diverse backgrounds live together harmoniously. ICU has been a pioneer in liberal arts education in Japan since its founding in 1953, pursuing, as its name suggests, international, Christian, and academic missions. The university seeks students with above qualities in order to realize this vision and meet challenges in the rapidly changing global community. ICU offers a variety of admission and assessment procedures in order to enroll students who seek to change both themselves and the world.
Why are there so many "Japan firsts" at ICU?
Japan's first university to include the word "international" in its name, Japan's first liberal arts college, Japan's first free major selection system, Japan's first university to adopt an English listening test, Japan's first library to have open-stack system, and introduce automated archives, Japan's first journalist astronaut ... ICU has been the scene of many "Japan firsts."
Our uncompromising pursuit of the questions, what kind of learning is expected of liberal arts colleges to solve the world's social issues and what form that learning should take, may be what has resulted in these many "Japan firsts" at ICU.
Why do ICU's student dining halls have English menus?
With internationalism as one of the commitments declared by ICU, we expect all of our students to develop a sufficient proficiency of both Japanese and English. To achieve this, we have been consistent in our policy of bilingualism, maintaining both Japanese and English as official languages, since the university's founding. That principle has penetrated all areas of the campus, from the classrooms to the offices, and even into students' club activities. All notices posted around campus are, as a general rule, in both Japanese and English.
All departments of the university have staff with a sufficient proficiency of English or experience studying abroad. These staff are able to carry out their duties bilingually, providing support to foreign-national faculty and international students on campus.
Why is the "One-Mat Room," Matsuura Takeshirō's study, so carefully preserved at ICU?
Among the buildings in the Taizansō complex, the main house (now lost), Machiai and Kōfūkyo were old buildings from the Edo and Meiji periods that were moved to their current location from elsewhere. Kōfūkyo is particularly venerable, having been built in 1925 by the lord of the Kishū Tokugawa clan, Tokugawa Yorimichi. It is a building with a six-mat tearoom, mizuya and a study. The study deserves special recognition for being created by Matsuura Takeshirō.
Known as the man who gave Hokkaido its name, Matsuura Takeshirō traveled all over Japan from the end of the Bakumatsu and into the Meiji period. Approaching his seventieth birthday, he designed the One-Mat Room as a small study for him to spend his final years. After writing to friends and acquaintances he had met on his travels and spending several years collecting pieces of old wood from shrines and temples around the country, he built the One-Mat Room as an addition to his house in Kanda Gokenchō in 1886. As the name suggests, the space consists of a single tatami mat surrounded by wooden edging, with a tokonoma, kamidana, and bookshelves. It is built from some 90 pieces of wood with long histories stretching from the Hakuho era (645-710) to the Edo period (1603-1868).
After Takeshirō's death, the One-Mat Room passed into the hands of Tokugawa Yorimichi, lord of the Kishū Tokugawa clan, who relocated it first to his private library, Nanki Bunko, in Azabu, and again to Kōfūkyo in Yoyogi-Uehara. When Yorimichi died, the businessman, Keisuke Yamada, bought Kōfūkyo for his Taizansō villa and it was moved to its current location in Mitaka in around 1936. Later, ownership of the One-Mat Room passed to the Nakajima Aircraft Company and, after the war, to ICU, which still owns it today.
Throughout its history of multiple owners and many changes of location, the One-Mat Room faced the danger of destruction from the Great Kantō Earthquake (1923) and the firebombing of Tokyo during the war. In fact, Takeshirō himself had specified in his will that, upon his death, the wood from the One-Mat Room be used to cremate his remains. The fact that this structure, which is so unique architecturally and historically, has transcended more than 130 years to be preserved at ICU could be described as a miracle. Taizansō, including the One-Mat Room, is registered as Tangible Cultural Property, and ICU is committed to its preservation and utilization as an invaluable heritage.