The Journal The Authority on Global Business in Japan

After more than 25 years of friendship, the American University’s School of International Service and Ritsumeikan University’s College of Inter­national Relations are pleased to launch the Joint Degree Program (JDP)­—the first undergraduate program of its kind between the United States and Japan­—to strengthen their partnership.

The four-year plan set across campuses in Kyoto and Washington, DC, was established to give future globally minded leaders the opportunity to take active roles in fields such as international organizations, government, global business, media, and non-governmental organizations.

JDP students—known as Sakura Scholars— will learn in diverse classroom settings, ena­bling them to experience Japanese culture from all-new perspectives through cross-cultural communication. They will form bonds with colleagues from various backgrounds as they discover specialized topics in global international relations from certified instructors at both schools.

Throughout their academic journey, students will receive academic advice and support to guide them through their studies. By the end, they will have accumulated 124 credits and be jointly awarded a Bachelor of Arts in Global International Relations by both schools.

Who Is It For?
The JDP is made for anyone who is interested in Japan–US or international relations. The skills and experiences it provides are valuable across a wide range of industries and applications. It is ideal for those who want to broaden their horizons in another country as well as those challenging themselves to learn a second language.

To ensure that each student’s academic path is clear and their future is expanding, both universities offer placement support and guidance. A qualified advisor will meet with each student twice per semester to offer help selecting courses, improving academically, working towards a career, and more.

What Will You Learn?
From the first to second spring semesters, students will acquire core and foundational skills in primarily English environments, and non-native speakers will receive suffi­cient language support. The program has been designed to structure students’ intellectual habits and critical thinking skills in preparation for both their time abroad and future careers on the international stage.

Students at both schools will also learn advanced research methods in data gathering, research design, and statistical analysis, essential in this new era of globalization, and empower them to follow their own research interests in a group of peers for the program’s final capstone project.

From their second year, students from Ritsumeikan University will continue their journey at American University—and vice versa—focusing on three thematic studies in courses that encompass global international relations:

  • Peace, Global Security, and Conflict Resolution (PGSCR)
  • Identity, Race, Gender, and Culture (IRGC)
  • Global Comparative Governance (GCG)

In their final year, students will return from overseas with a deep understanding of international affairs for their Senior Capstone Project, which they will complete using the advanced research techniques they have learned from professors at both institutions.

What Next?
Those who graduate from the JDP will have done so knowing that they are part of a culturally diverse group of alumni who are prepared for active roles in international organizations, government, global business, media, and non-governmental organizations.

It’s the universities’ mission and hope that, when students finish the JDP, they leave with a purpose and contribute to the deepening of mutually beneficial relations between the United States, Japan, and other East Asian nations, and to the peace and prosperity of the international community.

Regardless of whether the careers or next academic endeavors of those future global leaders lead them to live and work in Japan or the United States, they will have the full support of both schools.

Building Bridges
As the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan (ACCJ) bridges the United States and Japan, so does the friendship between American University and Ritsumeikan University. Launching soon is an English-based internship program in the Kansai region. The College of International Relations at Ritsumeikan University invites all interested ACCJ members to contact them and join them in building this new type of global education.

Aaron Baggett is a staff writer at Custom Media for The ACCJ Journal.