Meiji Gakuin University inaugurated the Faculty of International Studies (FIS) in April, 1986. Its first department was called International Studies. As the first such Faculty in Japan, it has been an educational leader with its comparative approach to world issues and an extensive two-year language program. However, globalization has dramatically altered the international landscape in recent years. The constant flow of people, goods, money and services across regional and national boundaries has created new links between once disparate regions and societies. Such transformations have also created new problems with worldwide implications.
These integrative processes present a major educational challenge as well. It is now imperative for students to nurture a transcultural perspective on world affairs if they aspire to careers in international organizations. They also need a more tightly integrated multi-disciplinary curriculum in order to develop effective analytic skills, and a well-founded understanding of new global trends. Furthermore, students who want to work overseas require a more extensive English based program that integrates language training and content courses at every level from the first year.
With an eye to the future, the Faculty of International Studies decided to build upon its past experience and create a new department that can effectively respond to the intense conditions of today’s world. In April, 2011 the new Department of Global and Transcultural Studies (GTS) joined the older International Studies Department within the Faculty. The translation of the Japanese title for GTS is the “Department of International Careers.” This variation in names reflects different but equally important facets of the new program. The English title defines the two core themes of its educational approach. “Global Studies”lrefers to introductory courses for specific disciplines such as sociology, history, and economics. It also includes courses that examine issues and problems facing the world’s many societies from a global perspective. “Transcultural Studies” courses look at the impact of globalization on specific regions or societies. These classes also use a comparative approach to examine interactions between modern cultures. The Japanese title “International Careers” (Kokusai kyaria), on the other hand, reflects the new department’s aspirations for its students. Following their graduation, GTS hopes its graduates will use their knowledge of global and transcultural issues to dynamically step into the front line of world affairs.