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BASc Programme Director presents at Japanese Symposium

By Kerry Milton, on 21 November 2014

On 20 November 2014, Carl Gombrich, Programme Director for the Arts and Sciences BASc was invited to speak at the ‘Arts and Sciences for Global Leaders’ Symposium in Tokyo.

The event was organised by Hitotsubashi University and the Japan Association of National Universities in order to explore the possibility of liberalising the educational offerings at Hitotsubashi and to discuss the relevance and growing importance of; broad-based liberal arts programmes and interdisciplinarity.

The Symposium, held at Hitotsubashi Hall was well attended with representatives from Japanese government agencies, the financial world and different levels of education among the three-hundred strong audience. Also speaking at the Symposium were Frances Cairncross (Rector, Exeter College, Oxford University), Teisuke Kitayama (Chairman of the Board of the Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation) and Tamotsu Aoki (Director General, The National Art Center, Tokyo).

Carl took the opportunity to speak about three distinct areas; openness, complexity, and liberal education where he drew specific examples from the BASc Programme at UCL which is now in its third year. Particularly relevant to the BASc was the talk given by Teisuke Kitayama who discussed the traits that the Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation looked for in graduates. Teisuke talked about looking for “pi-shaped graduates”, i.e. those with breadth and two specialisations. A panel discussion featuring the speakers and other academic members of staff from Hitotsubashi University followed, with similar themes discussed, along with more abstract ideas explored in relation to education and more specifically, the liberal arts model.

Summing up, Professor Yamauchi, President of Hitotsubashi University declared the Symposium a success and a starting point for further consideration of the liberal approach and how Hitotsubashi may apply it to their curricula. Professor Yamauchi backed the approach of the BASc, stating that “arts, social sciences and hard sciences need to be combined” and at Hitotsubashi, they would need to find ways to give students the freedom to think creatively.

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