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Message from Director

In April 2014, Tohoku University established the new Institute for Excellence in Higher Education (IEHE), integrating the Center for the Advancement of Higher Education, the Center for International Exchange, the Institute for International Education, the Institute of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and the Innovative Leaders Platform. Placing the Institute as a collaborative education and research facility within the university in order to contribute to the improvement in the quality of education, as well as to integrate the conduct of surveys and research, development, planning, recommendations, and implementation of higher liberal arts and sciences education as well as student support, Tohoku University designed and founded the Institute as an innovative and challenging organization, unprecedented both within and outside Japan. The goals and attributes that the Institute aims for are presented below.

Firstly, the Institute plays a comprehensive role in implementing connections between high school and university, admission exams, developing and promoting liberal education, promoting internationalization of higher education, student counseling and support, health management and guidance, as well as research and development of higher education. Based on evaluation analyses of these outcomes, it then implements various professional development activities aimed at quality improvement. In Tohoku University, these functions are divided into educational organizations such as graduate schools, faculties, schools and other facilities within the University. However, students do not only study at the educational organizations to which they belong but also learn and grow across the entire campus, beyond their affiliated departments. From the perspective of bringing up students within the student body, the university also intends to enhance the educational capabilities of the entire university through cooperation with various organizations such as graduate schools, faculties, schools, and libraries.

Secondly, the Institute aims to establish a new model of higher education through integrating the programs with organizations that embrace the high potential of promoting higher education. The old organizational group of the Institute obtained external funding for “Educational Development Core in International Cooperation” (a Joint Educational Development Center Program), the “Project for Promotion of Global Human Resource Development,” and the “Program for Innovative Leaders Platform”, in order to promote advanced and unique projects through cooperation. It will further aim to develop world-class human resources and establish a model for higher education through various programs of graduate schools and the multiplier effect of these initiatives.

Thirdly, as the core of establishing a model for higher education is to pursue excellence and diversity, the Institute aims to not only develop and provide higher liberal arts and sciences education as a pillar of excellence in education but also develop and implement student support to meet the needs of our various students as a pillar of diversity. The higher liberal arts and sciences education in our university overcomes the conventional image of liberal arts and sciences education as preparatory or basic education for specialized education, and aims to upgrade the content and provide it during the latter stages of undergraduate programs and graduate schools. This is in order to nurture the six key competencies of specialization, taking a bird’s eye view, problem-identifying and problem-solving, intercultural and international understanding, communication and leadership. In addition, as a research university, the practice of responsible research activities and provision of common lectures to acquire professional ethics also plays a significant role in our responsibilities to produce many researchers and university faculty members.

Fourthly, the Institute adopts a matrix structure composed of divisions and sections where faculty members belong according to their specialties, and operational centers where they are assigned according to their roles and missions. Although the university organization usually reflects the structure of academic disciplines and subdivisions, it is organized to allow various faculty members to cooperate and exert their ability beyond their areas of specialization.

Lastly, please notice the diverse composition of faculty members as a characteristic of the Institute. The current staff is composed of 110 faculty members including those employed under special projects. About 20% of staff are foreign nationals from many countries including, China, Korea, Kazakhstan, Russia, Pakistan, the USA, Canada, the UK, France, Germany, Denmark, Argentina and Uzbekistan. Their specializations extend over various areas including the humanities and sciences such as philosophy, historical science, economics, pedagogy, psychology, sociology, linguistics, literature, mathematics, physics, chemistry, zoology, exercise physiology, earth science, medical science, and agriculture. This level of diversity is unique to the Institute and cannot be found anywhere else either within Tohoku University or at other Japanese universities. We take pride in the great potential for cooperation and collaboration in order to realize the challenging missions of the Institute.

Please expect the Institute for Excellence in Higher Education (IEHE), Tohoku University to become a driving force for innovation in higher education in the future.


Hirotsugu TAKIZAWA
Director of Institute for Excellence in Higher Education, Tohoku University