1. A general overview of Sophia University
Sophia University (Jouchi Daigaku 上智大学)is one of the most prominent private universities in Japan. Founded in 1913 by the Roman Catholic religious order of the Society of Jesus, it has grown from its three original departments of Philosophy, German Literature and Commerce to nine undergraduate faculties and ten graduate schools, with over 13,900 students in total.
Physically located in the heart of Tokyo, right across the Imperial Palace, it is also close to the socio-economic and political core of Japanese society. From its early days the university has been a centre for internationalization and to this day continues to act as a bridge to the wider world. Many of its graduates find their way into fields such as the media (national broadcasters such as NHK), global development (international organizations like the United Nations), or global business (multinational corporations).
2. Core features and its unique contribution to society
The university’s core values of respect for equality, diversity and contribution to the larger social good are captured into its motto: “Men and Women, With Others, For Others”. These values permeate not only its academic curriculum but also guide students in their extracurricular activities. Students undertake many volunteer activities run inside and outside the university, but also beyond Japan, for instance, the support activities focused on refugees, or the areas damaged by the Great Tohoku Earthquake, to name a few.
Sophia University has been promoting educational and research activities based on a spirit of charity and globalism through encounters and dialogues with people of diverse backgrounds in the hope to bring forth solutions to the many problems that torment our world today.
Recently, as an institution, it has been increasingly focused on the environment and sustainable development. Many of its programs have conscientiously incorporated courses that relate to the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals set forth by the United Nations in 2015).
In November 2015, it also signed the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) supported by the United Nations, aiming to realize a sustainable society. These principles advocate the incorporation of environmental, societal and corporate governance concerns into investment decisions. As a private corporation that operates education and research institutes, and as a responsible asset owner, Sophia assumes its responsibility and brings its contribution to solving the various issues facing our global society through its ESG investment.
3. Recent developments/achievements in research and education, with a focus on education
Responding to the need to further develop as a “university in line with the world”, Sophia University has been taking bold steps in rethinking the old approach to teaching and learning. Through various initiatives it has sought to reform “Towards a qualitative change in university education to build a new future” for the Japanese society, fostering a “knowledge-based independence, collaboration and creative model” which “cultivates independent thinking and creativity”. (Report of the Central Equation Council, August 2012)
Through its participation in the Inter-University Exchange Project called the “Collaborative Online International Learning”, Sophia University offers programs towards Human Security and Multicultural Coexistence. Students in Japan connect and learn together with other students at institutions in Japan and abroad.
As a prominent institution for research and higher education in the fields of social sciences, humanities and natural sciences, the University has been selected by the Japanese Ministry of Education to be one of 37 universities to receive funding for its innovation and internationalization efforts through its “Top Global University Project”. Based on this project, the University launched in the autumn semester of 2020 an innovative English-based undergraduate “Program for Sustainable Futures” that brings together seven different disciplines: journalism, education, sociology, economics, management, international relations and area studies.
4. Going forward
Although Sophia University’s history with innovation and entrepreneurship (I&E) is short, the institution’s efforts such as opening new programs and opportunities for innovation to faculty and students have become more apparent in the past few years. Over time a growing number of faculty members have become active in organizing events and activities where they encourage students to incorporate entrepreneurial elements.
Sophia is located at the centre of one of the busiest metropolitan areas in the world. It also gathers together the best and the brightest domestic and international students and faculty, giving it unique advantages and opportunities. Maximizing them will continue to require innovative and creative thinking. This is where the mindset and skills of the UIF Community can potentially make a meaningful contribution.