Soka University 2023 President’s Vision


Masashi Suzuki President Soka University
President Masashi Suzuki
This year, the third year of the "Soka University Grand Design 2021-2030," we will enter a phase to implement new initiatives aimed at solving various issues. At the start of this important year in our efforts to achieve Soka’s 100th anniversary, after reaching our 50th Anniversary, I am excited to announce the President's Vision for AY2023.

In the accreditation evaluation conducted by the Association for University Standards in 2021, the university was certified as "compliant" (for a period of seven years from April last year). Furthermore, we were able to receive high evaluations on 6 items. I would like to express my deepest gratitude for the efforts of all faculty, staff, and students.
Last year, although the impact of COVID-19 infectious disease continued to be significant, with the cooperation of students, faculty, and staff, almost all classes were able to be conducted in-person just as before the pandemic, and many events and extracurricular activities were also held. In addition, the dispatch and acceptance of international students and overseas short-term programs resumed, and many international students were once again seen on campus. 
In education, the "Writing Improvement Project" received the Award for Excellence in Educational Practice from the Society for First Year Education, in recognition of the enhancement of first-year education. In data science education, in addition to making "Introduction to Data Science" a mandatory class for the entire university, we are developing initiatives ahead of other universities in Japan, such as becoming the first accredited school in the basic level applied mathematics, data science, and AI education programs promoted by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology (MEXT).
In terms of research, the SATREPS-EARTH Project, an international joint research project with universities in Ethiopia, has steadily produced results, while the Glycan and Life Systems Integration Center (GaLSIC), in which the Institute for Transdisciplinary Glycobiology Systems Research participates, has started in earnest as a large-scale Academic Frontier Promotion Project by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology. The participation of a private university as the implementing body of this project is groundbreaking.
In addition, the 1st International Symposium on Global Citizenship Education was held on October 22nd last year, with 170 researchers from 25 countries participating. The day before, the Soka Education Exchange Program meeting was held online connecting Japan, the United States, and Brazil where meaningful exchanges took place. In the QS Asia University Rankings, the university rose to the ranking of 401-440 overall (tied for 69th in Japan). The university's internationality, especially in terms of the ratio of international faculty members and the number of exchange students, was highly evaluated.

Furthermore, the students' success was also remarkable. 12 students passed the 2022 bar examination, a significant increase in the pass rate of 37.5%, ranking Soka University as the 3rd highest pass rate among private universities with more than 10 students passing. In addition, students won the top prize in the "Direct Proposal to the Mayor of Hachioji City" category of the "14th University Consortium Hachioji Student Presentation” and achieved excellent results in several contests. 
In club activities, the Ekiden club participated in all three major students Ekiden races. The team placed 6th in the 34th Izumo All Japan University Selection Ekiden Race, 5th in the 54th All Japan University Ekiden Interscholastic Championship, and 8th overall in the 99th Tokyo Hakone Round-Trip University Ekiden Race, earning them the right to be seeded for the fourth year in a row and ensuring their participation in the three major student relay races for the second year running. Two players (current and alumni) from the baseball team were selected in the Professional Baseball Draft. In addition, the Pioneer Brass Band represented Tokyo in the national competition and won the gold award, the highest award, becoming number one in Japan. We look forward to another year of student success in a variety of fields.

Looking ahead to 2030, under the theme of "a university that fosters 'global citizens' who practice value creation," Soka University is promoting the "Soka University Grand Design 2021-2030" initiative, which sets a number of goals in the four fields of education, research, SDGs, and diversity. Last year, we witnessed the power of national and ethnic divisions, including Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Last year, Soka University accepted international students from Ukraine free of charge.
In such a world, "Soka Education" as education that opens the possibilities of young people and realizes a peaceful future is now needed more than ever, and is actually being researched and practiced all over the world. Our university, which values "Soka Education" highly and is actively working to put it into practice, will play a role as a global hub for humanistic education and produce many capable individuals who share and realize the dreams of global citizenship.
Since assuming office as president in April last year, I have visited five countries and regions—South Korea, Thailand, Kenya, India, and Taiwan—and visited many universities. Last November, I participated in a commemorative symposium at the University of Nairobi in Kenya to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the founder's honorary doctorate conferral and the 35th anniversary of our exchange, and in December, I participated in a ceremony at St. Stephen's College, University of Delhi in India to commemorate the 30th anniversary of our exchange. I would like to continue to promote exchanges with universities around the world that share the value of humanistic education.

From this academic year, most faculties have started new curricula, and for this purpose, we have made all possible preparations, including the development of three policies for the entire university and for each faculty. Furthermore, in response to the grand design initiative, a "Minor: SDGs" was also established. Based on these new initiatives, we hope to produce a group of capable individuals who will lead the way in the new era.
Unfortunately, the number of applicants for the 2023 entrance examination, which was held from last year to this year, decreased significantly from the previous year, and we were unable to halt the decline. However, we will make further efforts to convey the many wonderful values of our university and the splendid student-first tradition to as many high school students as possible. While paying attention to the trends promoted by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology (MEXT) such as the development of capable individuals in the sciences and for education that integrates the humanities and sciences, we would like to make this a year in which students, faculty, and staff unite to clarify the traditional characteristics of our university, including humanistic education, and its mission to lead global citizenship education, and to explore a solid future vision for the university.

2023 Soka University President’s Vision

1. Education

(1) Enhancement of Global Citizenship Education Courses
Continuing on from changes made in General Education courses and the Faculty of Nursing curricula last year, the curricula for seven faculties will be revised from this fiscal year to expand education that fosters global citizenship and subjects related to SDGs. In addition, in General Education courses, "Application of Human Education Theory" is being offered to enable students to learn about the founding spirit in small groups, and to provide opportunities to learn about the concept of value creation and its activities. Furthermore, from the perspective of global citizenship education, a curriculum map showing the levels and fields of related subjects will be made available to help students when taking courses.

(2) Start of SDGs minor
From this fiscal year, a minor system will be launched to promote multifaceted learning of the SDGs. Students who fulfill the prescribed credits and conditions in the designated subjects (common subjects and specialized subjects) will be recognized as SDGs minors and will be listed on their transcripts and graduation certificates. In addition, by listing the relationship between the 17 SDGs goals and designated subjects, we will support SDG-conscious learning.

(3) Systematization of data science education
Introduction to Data Science has been made compulsory for the entire university since the last academic year. In addition, Soka University was selected for the "Mathematics, Data Science, and AI Education Program Accreditation System (Applied Basic Level)" promoted by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology. Furthermore, in the fall semester, the industry-academia collaborative course "Data Science Seminar" will launch. This year, the Center for the Promotion of Data Science Education will play a critical role in monitoring student enrollment trends, learning outcomes, and satisfaction rates, and will work to fully realize the data science education program.

(4) Initiatives to improve educational effectiveness
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, our university has been implementing high-flex classes in which in-person classes and online classes are conducted at the same time. From this fiscal year, in anticipation of the post-COVID-19 era, we will promote classes that take advantage of the characteristics of online classes from the perspective of DX (digital transformation), while also considering the improvement of the facilities environment. In addition, in combination with the existing semester system, a term system will be introduced this fiscal year in which the semester is divided into two and a course can be completed in eight weeks. This short-term or intensive learning is expected to improve educational effectiveness.

(5) Improving education through a new self-assessment cycle
From this fiscal year, the next self-assessment cycle will begin under the new educational goals and diploma policies of the entire university and each faculty and graduate school. By ensuring objectivity through the external evaluation committee, which is now well established, and by further promoting student participation, the university will establish an internal quality assurance system that will lead to the improvement of education unique to our university, which advocates the "student first" spirit. To this end, in addition to steadily implementing self-inspections and evaluations based on the newly created assessment plan, we will enhance FD and SD systems to support necessary educational improvements in each faculty.
In addition, by carefully disseminating the diploma policy to students in order to deepen their understanding, students who are the main actors in their own learning will be encouraged to reflect on their learning.

(6) Reflection by both faculty members and students
This year, which is the final year of the three-year plan to introduce teaching portfolios, each faculty will consider improving collegiality among faculty members and to improve classes based on the results of these efforts. Through assessment courses set by each faculty, we will provide students with opportunities to reflect on their evidence-based learning outcomes. Therefore, we will inspect and review the use of the learning portfolio system that we have been developing, make improvements, and promote its use. Through this initiative, we will promote students' self-understanding through reflection and raise their awareness of career development.

2. Research

(1) Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology's (MEXT) "Large Academic Frontier Promotion Project"
The preliminary evaluation of MEXT’s working group on the "Large Scientific Research Projects Research Environment Infrastructure Subcommittee, Science Committee, Council for Science and Technology " was announced in November last year. Based on the evaluation results and points to note, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology's "Large Academic Frontier Promotion Project" in the life sciences field was launched by Soka University, the Tokai National University Organization, and the National Institutes of Natural Sciences as the implementing body (Representative: Kenji Kadomatsu, Director of Tokai National University Organization). In this project, these research centers will collaborate with each other and aim to be the first in the world to comprehensively decipher glycan information with the concerted efforts of Japan.

(2) Promotion of priority research
In the first year of the "Priority Research Promotion Project," which aims to enhance the international reputation of our university, one project was selected as Type A (Priority Research) and five projects as Type B (SDGs). We will actively disseminate information on these research results and prepare for calls for applications from this fiscal year onward. Last fiscal year, we recognized the Glycan and Life Systems Integration Center (GaLSIC), the Institute of Plankton Eco-engineering, and the Malaysian Research Center as "Priority Research Centers" that promote cutting-edge and original research activities. We will fund these research centers and aim to increase international joint research and international academic publications. In addition, to create new priority research themes, we will proceed with preparing for the call for applications from this fiscal year onward.

(3) Strengthening international competitiveness
We will promote joint research projects such as the J-GlycoNet, a joint usage/research center certified by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology, and the International Science and Technology Cooperation Program for Global Issues (SATREPS-EARTH Project). In addition to promoting applications for the Grants-in-Aid for Scientific Research “International Joint Research Acceleration Fund,” we will consider an on-campus research promotion system to acquire these research categories.
In addition, we aim to increase international joint research by utilizing the cross-appointment system to recruit researchers with international research achievements, encourage participation in international science councils, etc., and expand the network among researchers.

(4) Strengthening the acquisition of external funds
To strengthen the acquisition of Grants-in-Aid for Scientific Research, which is now indispensable for the continuation and development of research activities, we will promote measures to increase the size of research and increase the adoption rate. In terms of increasing the scale of research, we will strengthen it with the newly established internal subsidy system. To improve the adoption rate, we will hold seminars by external lecturers, enhance on-demand seminars, and strengthen the function of checking application documents.
In addition, we will fundamentally strengthen the dissemination of information related to research support so that researchers can easily access information on external funding opportunities. Expand the individual consultation function to provide foreign researchers with detailed support for obtaining external funding.

(5) Strengthening research infrastructure
In addition to introducing a cross-appointment system with the aim of enhancing research, education, and industry-academia-government collaboration, regulations will be established for specially appointed faculty members employed in research projects, etc. Furthermore, the regulations for research assistants and postdoctoral fellows will be revised to focus on improving the environment for all researchers involved in research activities at the University. Moreover, a buyout system implemented with competitive research funds such as Grants-in-Aid for Scientific Research will be possible from this fiscal year. In order to improve the environment for URAs (Research Administrators) engaged in research projects and to improve the skills of administrative staff who support research activities, we will promote participation in the certification system implemented by the URA Skills Accreditation Organization. In order to strengthen support for doctoral students, we will bolster the backup system for students employed in the "Challenging Research Program for Next-Generation Researchers (SPRING)" of the Japan Science and Technology Agency.

(6) Promotion of appropriate research activities
In order to prevent misconduct in research activities, all full-time faculty members will be encouraged to take the e-learning "eAPRIN" program for research ethics education on a regular basis, and their participation will be monitored. In addition, we will provide the compulsory subject "Research Ethics" to all Ph.D. and master's students (excluding professional graduate schools) and hold lectures by outside lecturers to foster ethical research norms on campus. At the same time, we will implement a compliance education course for those eligible and strengthen awareness-raising activities on the prevention of improper use of research expenses within the university.

(7) Acceleration of research on the founder’s philosophies, practices, and on Soka Education
The Ikeda Research Institute for Soka Education (IRISE) shall promote the following activities to promote the Founder’s ideology and practice and academic Soka Education research.
1. Prepare for a symposium on the study of the Founder's thought
2. Promote international joint research related to global citizenship education
3. Promote translation, etc. for publications related to Soka Education.
4. Prepare a portal site page called the “Founder’s “To my dearest students”

Furthermore, we will systematically collect, organize, and preserve records of the founder's thoughts and practices as well as the practice of Soka education, and utilize them as research materials.

3. SDGs

(1) Promoting university-wide SDGs-related projects
The university's PR magazine, SUN, introduces the university's SDGs projects as "&SDGs" projects. In addition, projects that contribute highly to the SDGs or projects that desired to be converted into projects are recognized as "Soka University SDGs Good Practice" and subsidized. Furthermore, as part of the student life questionnaire, the "Soka University SDGs Questionnaire" will be conducted, and the results will be made public. The university will also continue to publish the "Soka University SDGs Report 2022" and make it available on the university's website.

(2) Fostering human resources who will contribute to the achievement of the SDGs, and establish a network of SDG students, experts, and practitioners.
We will organize events for high school students who wish to work in fields related to the SDGs in the future. In addition, dialogue meetings will be held to connect Soka University students with experts and practitioners who are already working to achieve the SDGs at international organizations and private companies. We will continue to study the capable individuals' roster system. Furthermore, events will be held in collaboration with the Career Center to support finding SDGs-related careers for our students.

(3) Strengthening cooperation with UN agencies
In accordance with the agreement with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), we will continue to accept undergraduate and graduate students. In addition, we will organize a refugee film festival in cooperation with UNHCR. Also, a refugee research project will be launched at the University’s Institute for Peace Studies, and a study group will be held. Moreover, we will promote cooperative projects such as internship programs and peace lectures at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and other organizations. We will also strengthen cooperation with UNESCO schools overseas through the activities of the UNESCO School Support Committee. Furthermore, we will create a "UNESCO Club" where students will take the initiative in promoting the activities of UNESCO schools on campus.

(4) Formulation of SDGs and energy plans for campus operations
In consultation with outsourced specialists, the University will prepare a roadmap for measuring and reducing direct greenhouse gas emissions (Scope 1), indirect emissions from the use of electricity, heat, and steam purchased from other companies (Scope 2), and indirect emissions other than the above (Scope 3), including cost analysis.

4. Diversity

(1) Promotion of globalization
This year, following March 2018, the 2023 Association of Southeast Asian Institutions of Higher Learning (ASAIHL) Conference will be held in June, which will be held for the second time by Soka University and by Japan. Online classes in English on Soka Education will be held at Soka Ikeda Women's University in India. We plan to offer online Japanese language education to students living abroad as well as meet the needs of overseas exchange schools. Last year, the Diplomatic Corps of Southern African Countries in Tokyo (SADC) held a series of lectures (Spring Semester, Common Subject "Area Studies B"), and we aim to offer such classes by overseas lecturers again this year.

(2) Final Year of the Top Global University Project
In this final year, after receiving the highest rating of "S" in two straight interim evaluations, we will actively recruit and accept foreign students and dispatch Soka University students, numbers had decreased due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and actively promote educational exchange by providing online classes to overseas exchange schools as well as utilizing the "International Collaborative Online Learning Program (COIL)". In addition, this fiscal year, we will implement a cross-appointment system for faculty members and researchers with exchange schools and companies, etc., and secure diverse human resources for education and research, including foreign faculty members. Furthermore, this year, in order to improve students' language skills and aim for higher language scores, we will greatly promote language learning and language proficiency examinations.

(3) Initiatives for diversity and inclusion
The Soka University Diversity and Inclusion Promotion Center, which was reorganized and reopened last fiscal year, has three goals in relation to the Grand Design: 1. the ratio of female faculty members in all faculties is 20%, 2. the ratio of female staff is 40%, and 3. Setting and achieving targets for the ratio of female management positions.