Message from the Director

Against a background of ongoing technological advancement and the drive for globalization, our current era is characterized by rapid social change. Students living through this time are expected to help shape the future of our societies. The Institute for Liberal Arts and Sciences was established in April 2013 with a view to educating those students to become globally oriented individuals who can function effectively anywhere in the world by exercising their broad perspectives, extensive knowledge, and unparalleled creativity. The Institute aspires to "teach the basic knowledge and methodologies that are common among a wide range of cross-disciplinary fields and foster rich humanity by providing students with opportunities to come into contact with advanced learning and culture" (Article 3, Kyoto University Institute for Liberal Arts and Sciences Regulations).

Throughout its more than 100-year history, Kyoto University has fostered a tradition of academic freedom under the banner of "self-teaching and self-learning" based on dialogue. At the core of this time-honored tradition is the immutable conviction that learning is a process of uncovering hitherto unrecognized issues through self-thinking, experience, and free dialogue, and of opening up new intellectual horizons by inquiring into humanity, society, and natural phenomena according to fundamental principles. Of course, it is also important to have an attitude of respectfully learning from the wisdom of those who have come before us. In addition, I expect our students to aim higher in their endeavors to investigate the unknown and create something new. To this end, it is necessary to shift the direction of advanced learning away from efficient absorption of existing knowledge and toward creation of new knowledge through intensive research. "Self-teaching and self-learning" based on dialogue is a new intellectual habit of learning that must be acquired, and one that will make it possible to take the first step into academia. The primary goal of Kyoto University's liberal arts and sciences programs is to create an intellectual space that is free, open, and conducive to the taking of that initial step.

Hisashi Miyagawa<br />Director<br />Institute for Liberal Arts and Sciences

Rapid progress in academic research means that specialized fields are becoming increasingly segmented. Meanwhile, the global community is being confronted with issues that involve different specialized fields. In order to resolutely tackle these issues, it is not enough to merely study one’s specialized subjects; one must have a broad knowledge base which enables events to be observed from various perspectives. We hope that students from different faculties will come together to freely discuss and learn the knowledge and ideas that underpin the wide variety of subjects concerning humanity, society, and nature that are offered in our liberal arts and sciences courses. Our goal is to see our students enhance their own education while deepening their mutual ties with others.

For students to be able to play active roles in the global arena, it is also important to communicate and live in harmony with people from around the globe with different values, cultures, and lifestyles. To address this fundamental requirement, the Institute emphasizes education in English and other languages through such measures as improving the quality and quantity of classes taught in English by foreign faculty members. We have also introduced support programs for students who wish to study abroad so that they can explore their potential in the international arena.

The Institute will remain committed to providing students with quality liberal arts and sciences education through close collaboration with all of Kyoto University’s faculties and the generous cooperation of its graduate schools, research institutes, and centers. It is our sincere hope that students will learn a great deal from our intellectually stimulating classes, taught by highly enthusiastic teachers, and through candid, unconstrained discussion with fellow students, and that they will enhance their capabilities before launching themselves into the big, wide world that awaits them.

Hisashi Miyagawa
Institute for Liberal Arts and Sciences