Looking Into “Issues of Living” Junko Hibiya, President
International Christian University is Japan’s first liberal arts college. It was founded in 1953 based on Christian principles, with the aim of “cultivating capable individuals, educated as internationally minded citizens, who will serve both God and people and who will contribute to lasting peace.” At the first matriculation ceremony, held on April 29th of the same year, each student was introduced and, in order to realize the aim and philosophy of the university, students vowed to lead lives that adhered to the principles of the “Universal Declaration of Human Rights.”
A cornerstone that sets ICU apart from other universities is the respect paid to each person as a unique individual. This is epitomized by the fact that all students are called individually, by name, at the April and September matriculation ceremonies and at the March and June commencement ceremonies. This tradition has been faithfully upheld since the founding of the university.
ICU offers a fully bilingual education in Japanese and English. The liberal arts education, provided by its undergraduate college, allows students to pursue an in-depth study in any of approximately 30 majors. At the same time, this education highlights the dynamic possibilities that can emerge as students experience areas that transcend and connect academic disciplines. Powered by a commitment to liberal arts education, ICU also offers graduate programs designed to deepen scholarly research. Students work independently, and the role of faculty and staff is to support a process by which students discover their own potential. How this is achieved is through a system of classes with a low student-teacher ratio, classes that prioritize participation and, finally, through the faculty advisory system, office hours and tutorials.
The ICU campus is a place where students, faculty and staff of diverse backgrounds can study and work, in unison and, in such an ambience, there is greater perception and understanding of individual difference. This leads to enhanced self-awareness and the possibility of interpersonal relations.
Another unique aspect of ICU is its tradition of emphasizing interaction throughout the campus community. In addition to the main building where lectures are held, the science building, the library and gymnasium, this verdant 620,000-square-meter campus is also home to student dormitories and faculty and staff residences. Unmistakably, this makes for an environment where students can interact fluently with faculty and staff outside the classroom. This campus, without parallel, was provided to ICU in the wake of the destruction from World War II, through the generous donations of a great many people who supported the university’s founding principles.
Hachiro Yuasa (1890-1981), who served as the frst president of ICU, believed Prov-erbs 29:18 from the King James Bible, “Where there is no vision, the people perish” to be “an important expression in considering our reason for existence and in the realization of an organization’s philosophy.” President Yuasa asked, “We each of us are given only one opportunity in life. Therefore, with what vision are we going to live that life? Is that not the foremost question with which we proceed through life?” (pp. 34-35, “Vi-sions to the Young,” ICU Alumni Association, 1981).
We confront the work of each living day, with a sincere heart, responding to the prayers of the countless people who have sown the seeds of their commitment to ICU over the past 60 year