Sophia University, also known as (上智大学 Jōchi Daigaku) is one of the most established top private research universities in Japan. It was founded by the Roman Catholic religious order of the Society of Jesus in 1913 and has grown from its original academic departments of Philosophy, German Literature, and Commerce to 9 undergraduate Faculties and 10 Graduate Schools, with over 13,900 students in total. Sophia University is a pioneer in global education, leading the internationalization of Japanese universities. The university is known for its prime location in central Tokyo, with access to top multinational corporations, a small and diverse community. Many of the graduates find their way into the fields such as global development (close ties with the United Nations) and media (broadcasters such as NHK). As a prominent institution for research and higher learning in the fields of the 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 internationalization efforts through the "Top Global University Project".
Students at Sophia University take diversity and coexistence in its core values. This perspective has been implemented in various volunteer activities inside and outside the university, as well as beyond Japan. This mindset for contributing to the social good through volunteering is one of the key pillars and characteristics that exist in Sophia. In Japan, having students being the main moderators of community vitalization and reconstruction has a significant meaning for the university. Moreover, classes offered at Sophia University provide students with the opportunities to live through these values actively. Recent examples include many programs that conscientiously implemented courses that relate to the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals set forth by the United Nations in 2015). One core focus for Sophia University is the environmental and climate aspect, where many students participate and co-create in initiatives, workshops and events. These classes incorporate an interactive learning environment encouraging students to engage with each other, unlike the traditional Japanese education system. The teaching system is currently undergoing a transformation, additionally driven by numerous professors individually curating interactive programs in classes.
As an Inter-University Exchange Project called "Collaborative Online International Learning" Sophia University offers programs toward Human Security and Multicultural Coexistence. Students in Japan connect and learn with students at institutions abroad using Zoom, Google Classroom, Facebook, etc. Currently, three universities from Japan and ten institutions from the U.S. participate.
Additionally, the University President annually awards a "President's Award" and a "President's Incentive Award".
There is little support at a faculty level. However, some professors are active in organizing programs where they encourage students to incorporate entrepreneurial elements.
Sophia University promoted educational and research activities based on the spirit of charity and globalism through encounters and dialogues with many others of diverse backgrounds in hope to bring solutions for the issues to our tormented world of today. Recently, Sophia University has been increasingly focusing on sustainable development as an institution. Although Sophia's history with innovation and entrepreneurship is short, the institution’s efforts such as opening research programs and incorporating innovation for faculty and students have become more apparent since the last few years. Sophia University is expanding its range of contributions outside the university as well. In November 2015, it signed the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) supported by the United Nations, aiming to realize a sustainable society, and institutional investors, etc. It is a principle that advocates incorporating the issues in the environment (Environmental), society (Social), and corporate governance (Governance) into investment decisions. As a school corporation that operates educational and research institutes, and as a responsible asset owner, Sophia continues contributing to solving various issues facing the global society through ESG investment.
In order for Sophia university to further develop as a "university in line with the world" that stands out in the harsh business environment due to the intensifying competitive environment, Sophia decided it was necessary to reform with bold and free thinking that is not bound by existing concepts. In the report of the Central Education Council in August 2012, "Towards a qualitative change in university education to build a new future," Japan envisioned a society which "cultivates independent thinking and creativity."
And this approach of the collaborative teaching profession is exactly the way for faculty and staff to realize "knowledge-based independence, collaboration, and creative model". At the same time, the faculty members and staff of the academy will collaborate, or the staff will collaborate beyond the framework of the department to which they belong, to make feasible research and policy proposals for reforming the academy administration and education/research system. This is also the development of the organizational network power of the entire academy, and contributes to the improvement of the organizational power.
In the autumn semester 2020, Sophia University will also start the “Sophia Program for Sustainable Futures”, a new English-based Undergraduate Program offering bachelor's degrees in seven fields of study: journalism, education, sociology, economics, management, international relations, and area studies. This program was initiated on the basis of Sophia University’s initiative for the Top Global University Project. The first group of undergraduate students will consist of 40 students.
Sophia is located at the center of one of the busiest metropolitan cities in the world. This gives the university advantage and unique opportunities to engage with regional and local economic development efforts. All students at Sophia have the opportunity to work at the best companies in Tokyo, where they are required to think innovatively and creatively to tackle the problems industries are facing. Currently, Sophia University has traditionally been recognized as an international university, and it is thought that it will have the effect of bringing a new breeze to the region by inviting many international students. In terms of regional economic support, Sophia University visits the areas damaged by the Great Tohoku Earthquake every year to financially support the revitalization of the economy and the learning of students. In addition, the class provides financial support to refugees and those who have introduced their experiences of being damaged by the earthquake as research funds.