Enhancing Study Abroad Programs to meet our Students’ Desire for Challenges and Opportunities for Growth

Tetsuo Morishita
Vice President for Global Academic Affairs
Professor, Department of International Legal Studies, Faculty of Law

Since its founding, Sophia University has been committed to fostering the next generation of global contributors. Demonstrating our continued commitment to being a pioneer for global education in Japan, Sophia University’s Vice President for Global Academic Affairs will expand on the future of global education at the University.

Innovative Study Abroad Programs to Foster Global Leaders

The Vice President for Global Academic Affairs has two duties: the planning and promotion of Global Education programs and the establishment of networks with universities overseas.

Today, society looks towards Japanese universities to “foster the types of students demanded in this global era.” Since its establishment, Sophia University has been a proud leader of global education in Japan, with the Christian spirit of neighborliness and internationalism at its core. As such, given that many students attend our university with a passionate desire to be active on the world stage, simply “educating students to have study abroad experience and speak English fluently” is insufficient.

To be able to meet the hopes placed upon Sophia University by students and society to foster graduates prepared for the future, I believe it is my role as Vice President for Global Academic Affairs to plan and design global education and study abroad programs that are instrumental to student growth.

At Sophia University, our goal is to nurture a generation that holds the ability to change the world and can develop into leaders of the international community. But to achieve this, we must offer students programs that are more innovative and targeted than ever. For example, we are currently establishing a program tentatively referred to as the Global Summit of the Younger Generation where students are immersed in overseas experiences and can meet and discuss real issues with students from a diverse set of countries to formulate collaborative solutions to these problems and propose said solutions to international organizations.

On the other hand, while we must recognize that there are students who are not highly motivated to engage in study abroad and global education programs, we view it as our duty present such programs to all students in a way that can peak their various interests and encourage them to take advantage of our offerings. While Sophia University already offers a wide variety of short-term study abroad programs and global internships, we also aim to enhance our lineup of programs to appeal to the widest variety of students.

In the fall of 2021, Sophia University resumed its study abroad programs; students researched and gathered data on the COVID-19 situations of study abroad destinations and began negotiating with the University, urging the resumption of study abroad programs.

As a result, the University agreed to allow students to resume studying abroad if they understood the risks involved and took necessary measures. The proactiveness and persistence of the students was encouraging to witness and provided an important reminder of our duty to create educational programs that meet the high expectations of our students.

Advancing our Education and Research through Strengthened Ties with Universities Overseas

In order to expand our study abroad offerings, Sophia University needs to develop and strengthen partnerships with universities overseas. One of my important duties as Vice President for Global Academic Affairs is to actively network with overseas universities.

While as the Vice President for Global Academic Affairs it is my duty travel abroad and network with other universities and institutions, the COVID-19 pandemic made such activities very difficult, causing me undeniable frustration. Yet as restrictions have loosened, I have resumed attending conferences and other opportunities to connect with institutions. In particular, I am trying to encourage personal education and research exchanges with the top universities of various countries and regions.

At the same time, Sophia University seeks to form collaborative relationships with universities in countries and regions where higher education is still developing. Japanese higher education may be highly regarded internationally today, the road to Sophia University’s growth includes receiving valuable collaboration from other universities. As an institution founded in Christian humanism, we believe it is not only our mission to contribute to the enhancement of education in developing nations, but vital to our global development.

To continue being a globally respected university amid the rapidly changing world, we must also move forward without fear of change, continuing to conduct and promote university management of faculty, staff, and students in a forward-facing way with diversity and vigor front of mind.

It is increasingly said that the young generation does not take on challenges. However, we find that there is no lack of a spirit of challenge in today’s teens and 20- somethings. Universities provide the ideal setting for such young people to foster great ambitions and experience real growth; Sophia University stives to be a place that provides numerous opportunities to challenge and grow oneself. To the high school students with a desire to grow themselves, Sophia University will continue to meet the expectations and provide opportunities for such a spirit.

Sophia University

For Others, With Others