An Update from the Dean Stronach

Creating Global Citizens at TUJ

September 10, 2014

As I write at the start of the 2014-15 academic year, there are two things of particular importance. The first is that we have been working hard with all parties including the main campus, the Ministry for Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT), the Abe government, members of the Diet and many private supporters to bring about a non-taxable educational status for TUJ as soon as we can. This has become especially important for TUJ in light of the increase in the consumption tax this past spring, but it also has importance for Japan. Japanese higher education is going through an intense period of internationalization and reform, and those who support TUJ do so because they know that we can play, must play, an important role in that reform.

Recently, TUJ has received significant attention in the Japanese media including the Nikkei Shimbun, Asahi Shimbun, and NHK Broadcasting Corp. because of its role as a foreign institution working within Japan for the support of Temple University and its students and faculty, but also for the support of Japanese higher education. The two elements of our dual mission of supporting Temple University, especially as an Asian gateway for our US main campus, and supporting the reform, internationalization, and globalization of Japanese higher education are mutually reinforcing. Over the past year we have signed several MOUs with both Japanese and other Asian universities including Miyagi University in December, Hong Kong Baptist University and Toyo University in April, Meiji University and National Taipei University in May. These movements clearly indicate our commitment to developing collaborative grounding in higher education of the Asian community. Both President Theobald and Provost Dai have singled out internationalization as an important area of development for Temple University, and these initiatives by TUJ will support that policy.

The other thing of particular importance is both the number of problematic issues in international relations, and their breadth and complexity. There are always crises in the world. There are always problematic issues. But, 25 years on, we are now seeing fundamental changes in the international relations system that have arisen as a result of the end of the cold war. China, as a rising power, is testing the extent of that power. Russia as a decreasing power is attempting to reassert control over its own region that it has not had since the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Both are united in their opposition to the United States as the one super power that remains, but, as demonstrated in Iraq and Afghanistan, is not able to control international events in the way it once did when the world was divided into East, West and Non-Aligned. These are just the political/economic issues. If one adds the truly global and human problems of climate change, water shortage, cultural and religious clashes, and the positives and negatives of the global communications revolution, then the situation becomes even more complex.

I could go on but my point is that as the political, cultural, environmental, and economic landscape continues to change simultaneously with, and in part due to, the global communications revolution, the world becomes more complex and yet intimate. We know much more about each other, and we are more able to communicate instantaneously with each other no matter where we are. That ability to communicate intimately at a distance makes life a lot easier (I can remember communicating back home 38 years ago with a one-page aerogram letter once a week), but it can also bring out unfettered and unfiltered communications that add to the turmoil. Indeed, one of the findings about social media is that it tends to create clusters of people who only listen to opinions they "like" and never bother to listen to opposing opinions.

The importance of TUJ is that we strive to create good global citizens who have the ability to communicate with others and who learn to develop opinions after listening to both sides of an issue. Although we are an American university in Tokyo, we serve the world, not just Japan and the United States. We have students from more than 55 different countries mixing together in small classes and therefore learning how to communicate and get along with each other no matter what their differences. This is the fundamental nature of TUJ and it is what makes us important as a part of Temple University, and as an institution of higher education in Japan. It is important that TUJ produces not American, not Japanese, but global citizens whom we hope will live their lives with the same spirit of international communication and understanding that they experienced at TUJ.

With best regards,