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Connections between the UW and Waseda University

February 17, 2017

Waseda University is 4800 miles away from the University of Washington. And yet they share a deep connection stretching back many years. There are currently four programmatic relationships between the UW and Waseda.

This year Professor Amy Snyder Ohta of the department of Asian Languages and Literature and UW Japan Studies Program faculty is participating in the Waseda Faculty Development (WFD) program offered by UW International & English Language Programs. She is one of fifteen UW faculty mentors partnered with faculty from Waseda. The WFD program provides an opportunity for Waseda faculty to deepen their understanding of the most up-to-date pedagogy used in the American higher education system.  It is a two-week program where Waseda faculty attend pedagogy workshops and are paired with UW faculty based on their area of expertise. Waseda partners meet one-on-one with UW faculty mentors, but also visit UW classes, and attend departmental events during their time on campus. The UW partner also facilitates connections with other faculty for class visits depending on the Waseda faculty member’s interests. During this program, visiting Waseda faculty also have the opportunity to meet with Waseda students who are currently studying at the UW to discuss the experience of higher education in both Japan and the United States.

The Global Connections Program (formerly known as the “Thematic Study Abroad” program) has been running since 2005 and is the largest program between UW and Waseda in terms of the amount of people enrolled. Autumn quarter saw 32 students from Waseda University, of which 29 will continue studying here during Winter quarter. As Global Connections Program students, those from Waseda have the opportunity to take UW elective courses that suit their own interests as well as taking required courses set up through the Jackson School of International studies that focus on global issues. Examples of these classes include Disaster in Global Context, Diaspora Communities in Seattle and Beyond and Changing Generations in Japan and East Asia. The Global Connections program allows students to improve their language skills and helps them develop a more defined view of the world, with an increased understanding of different people and an improved cross-cultural awareness. Originally open exclusively to Waseda students, this program expanded as of 2015 to include students from institutions in Japan and elsewhere.

Students from both universities have two possible study abroad programs. Although students studying for full academic year are few (Four Waseda students at the UW in 2015-16 and six UW students at Waseda) the summer program has exploded with a record 22 students to Waseda in 2016.

The fourth program connected to Waseda is the Global Leadership Fellows Program, a recently formed consortium with four other U.S. universities.  It is part of the UW honors program and provides another avenue for students to study in Japan. The aim of the program is to identify students of promise in multiple fields of study and promote their development as leaders in a world of ever-changing demands and opportunities. There were three UW student accepted during the first year of the Global leadership program, from the department of Music, Political Science, and the Jackson School. Each then travelled to Japan to take part in the program, attending “zemis” — a unique Japanese style collaborative seminar and an internationally acclaimed small-group pedagogical method — interacting with leaders in various fields to discuss and debate global issues of particular interest, and taking part in unique field trips and internships.

Regardless of the geographical distance between the two universities, the Waseda-UW connection is building strong relationships that help students and faculty alike to develop and grow academically and as world citizens.