This essay investigates the need for and the challenges associated with the establishment of western style liberal arts education in a non-western nation. Two such programs in Japan are examined: Akita International University and Yamanashi Gakuin University’s International College of Liberal Arts or iCLA. The authors have been deeply involved in the establishment and administration of both of these all-English language liberal arts ba degree programs. The difficulty of establishing a liberal arts education curriculum in a country like Japan is explored by examining the cultural and institutional obstacles within the Japanese system of higher education. The two case studies are presented to highlight the establishment problems and subsequent successes of these programs in a nation with little tradition of liberal arts education at the university level. Finally, the questions of how to justify a liberal arts education program and how to design such a program are discussed by an examination of the utility of area studies as an organizing framework for liberal arts education in a non-western society.
AndersonCharles W.Prescribing the Life of the Mind: An Essay on the Purpose of the University the Aims of Liberal Education the Competence of Citizens and the Cultivation of Practical Reason1993MadisonUniversity of Wisconsin Press
ChambersGail S.CummingsWilliam K.Profiting from Education: Japan-United States International Educational Ventures in the 1980s1990New YorkInstitute of International Education, Research Report Number Twenty
StanleyPeter W.KoblikStevenGraubardStephen R.“At Home in Our world: The Place of International Studies in Liberal Arts Colleges”Distinctively American: The Residential Liberal Arts College2000New BrunswickTransaction Publishers273291
Charles W. AndersonPrescribing the Life of the Mind: An Essay on the Purpose of the University the Aims of Liberal Education the Competence of Citizens and the Cultivation of Practical Reason (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press1993) 3-4.
John ClammerDifference and Modernity: Social Theory and Contemporary Japanese Society (London: Routledge1995) 102; Chie Nakane Japanese Society (Tokyo: Tuttle Press 1997) 52; Boyé L De Mente Japan’s Cultural Code Words (Tokyo: Tuttle Press 2004) 304f; Boyé L De Mente Japan Unmasked: The Character and Culture oft he Japanese (Tokyo: Tuttle Press 2005) 202f; Richard E. Nisbett The Geography of Thought (New York ny: Free Press 2003) 51.