The Origins of Meiji Gakuin
The GTS department’s innovative multi-disciplinary approach to international studies builds upon Meiji Gakuin University’s long-standing educational legacy. The university’s first president, James Hepburn, was a missionary and doctor who came to Japan in 1859. After setting up a medical practice and a school in Yokohama in 1863, Hepburn moved to Tokyo in 1886 and established Meiji Gakuin. He also compiled the first major Japanese-English dictionary. In the process, he developed the “Hepburn System” of Romanization that remains the worldwide standard for transliterating Japanese into Western script. The first graduating class consisted of only twenty students, but over the years Meiji Gakuin has grown into a major university, with an enrollment of over 12,000 full-time students. At present it has seven faculties, and fifteen departments. Many of the faculties also train graduate students working toward M.A. and Ph.D. degrees.
The Faculty of International Studies
Hepburn and his supporters situated Meiji Gakuin University’s first campus in Tokyo’s Shirogane district near Shinagawa. To celebrate its one-hundredth anniversary in 1986, the university dramatically expanded its facilities by building a second campus in the Totsuka area of Yokohama. MGU also marked the occasion by creating a Department of International Studies in the new Faculty of International Studies. This was the first program of its kind in any Japanese university. Since its inception, the International Studies Department has offered students a multi-disciplinary education with courses representing a wide range of disciplines. It provides small-class instruction through its system of seminars that students start in their second year. Many of the lectures are in Japanese, but it also has a strong heritage in English language training.
Building for the Future through Links to the Past
The Department of Global and Transcultural Studies draws upon this background to create a curriculum that meets the interests and needs of students who seek international careers. The all-English curriculum and the close interaction between faculty and students in small classes strongly reflect the liberal arts ideals that are at the core of Meiji Gakuin’s historical identity. As part of the Faculty of International Studies, GTS combines a thoroughly modern interdisciplinary course of study with an extensive program of study abroad and internship opportunities.
At present, the Faculty has thirty-seven full-time scholars who are either in the Department of International Studies or in GTS. The two have distinct yet integrated curricula, and many courses are open to students in both departments.
The creation of the Yokohama campus and the Faculty of International Studies strongly reaffirmed MGU’s links to Yokohama. The expansion also provides MGU students with an optimal educational environment. The area is safe and quiet yet conveniently located close to some of the world’s most sophisticated cities. The campus is adjacent to the extensive woodlands of Yokohama’s Maioka Park. For students interested in pre-modern Japanese history, the ancient capital of Kamakura is only three stops away to the south from the JR Totsuka Station. The wide beaches of the Shonan coast and Enoshima Island are also nearby. Train and subway lines offer quick access to Yokohama’s Chinatown, historic port district, and many museums. Tokyo is just thirty minutes away, where students can supplement their classroom studies by easily visiting places of interest. Few English-language educational programs can offer such an exciting environment for international studies.