In April 2024, the Sophia Global Citizen Program will launch, for all who are interested, as a place of open learning to gain insight into the future of society and learn about living in accordance with one’s values and interests. President Terumichi talks about the significance of Sophia launching this program now, and what the University envisions for the Sophia Future Design Platform concept.
Building the strength for all to live independently
The Sophia Global Citizen Program, which will launch in April 2024, is a program open to all global citizens seeking to design a positive and innovative life where they play a role in facing and solving today’s social issues.
All those with an awareness of global citizenship are eligible to take this program. Through the program, participants will gain insights into cultivating the four ways of thinking necessary for designing one’s life: “deepening the idea of the ‘individual,’” “‘coloring’ one’s life,” “looking to the ‘future’” and “standing with ‘others.’” Ideally, people from all walks of life, businesspeople, retirees, housewives or husbands, and students, will join to learn in a multifaceted way and contribute their valuable knowledge to society.
Each course focuses on one of the following themes: “social issues” such as climate change, “technological innovation” such as AI, or “social change” such as the changing state of ‘the family.’ In the interest of ensuring participants can gain the multiple perspectives presented in the courses and reach completion, each course is offered four times. In addition to face-to-face lectures, online, and high-flex lectures (choice between face-to-face and online lectures) are also available, allowing those who cannot be physically present to attend.
Registration for the 20 lectures scheduled to be offered in April has been open since February, with high school teachers and students also very welcome to attend.
Connecting Society and Learning, without the limitation of degrees
The Office of Sophia Future Design Platform (SFDP Office), launched in July 2023, is the administrator of the Sophia Global Citizen Program. The role of this new initiative is to provide learning for society at large, both inside and outside the university and its traditional degree-awarding education.
The SFDP also operates two other programs to help participants see into the future: Sekai Tankyu Bu and the Professional Studies joint industry-university program. The former is a club for high school students to engage in research activities with researchers. The latter is a place for business professionals to learn practical knowledge and demonstrate international competence during this era of social change.
In a university bachelor’s program, students will develop academic expertise and gain practice in critical, deep thinking – without a doubt, this is where one of the axes of deepening thought and fulfilling exploration will take shape. However, we are no longer in an era where life progresses linearly, from school, to work, to retirement; instead, it is a multi-stage path in which students continue to learn while moving back and forth: starting businesses while still in school or engaging in multiple jobs and participating in community service.
Each individual can now design the terms of their life, sometimes changing which stage they are in, and sometimes creating their own stages. However, what remains true throughout is that learning is the root of the society that lies ahead of us, and how to gain the ability to determine where next to go in life.
Given our era, is it not the role of higher education to provide education beyond traditional degreed-based frameworks to help enrich people’s lives? With this in mind, Sophia has set its sights on shifting from being a place for students to learn, to a place for all to learn in response to changing and diverse desires for education. This new place should be open to all, suitable for all learning purposes, and encourage interaction with new people. As far as I know, there has never been an attempt to transform a university into a place like this, in Japan and abroad.
A future in which diverse intellectual curiosities come to gather in Yotsuya
An environment constantly trying to attract a diverse group of people in search of personal learning opportunities is of great benefit to students to be surrounded by. Interacting with professionals provides an opportunity to learn about the realities of the business and industrial world and meet leaders and new role models.
As a university, we also aim to expose our students to some currently untraditional ways of learning: In November 2023, we opened a short-term, intensive “entrepreneurship training course” for undergraduate students, where they can use the know-how they glean from professionals. In addition, participating companies will consider investing in students’ promising entrepreneurial ideas.
In the future, we plan to create a place where participants in the SFDP Office’s programs can interact in person and online, network, and share wisdom and heart. The past and present participants of the Professional Studies program have already organized an opportunity to gather, hosting a reunion with about 150 people in attendance and confirming that the true essence of a university is in coming together and discussing. Continuing to expand the circle of exchange is a future challenge for the SFDP Office to work on.
In both high school and college, graduation does not mean the completion of learning; today, we live our lives while continuing to learn, interact with different people and societies, and foster new synergies. In this context, the role of Sophia, led by the Sophia Global Citizen Program, is to arouse intellectual interest and curiosity, and to communicate and be a place for life-long learning. We are truly in the midst of a shift at the Yotsuya Campus to create an environment that meets growing and diverse desires to learn.