Japan Study

Program History

Since 1963

Program Beginnings

  Professor Jackson Bailey

Professor Jackson Bailey

In September 1963, a group of 23 U.S. students arrived in Tokyo to begin their year at Waseda University. John Fitzgerald Kennedy was the U.S. president, Japan’s economy was beginning to take off, and the Tokyo Summer Olympics were only months away. Three years later, when the first group of Waseda students began their study abroad at Great Lakes Colleges Association (GLCA) colleges, the world seemed somehow smaller and less secure.

On the U.S. side, the exchange program between our colleges began through the initiative of Jackson Bailey, professor of history at Earlham. Jack, as he was known, received his undergraduate degree from Earlham in 1950 and soon after left for Harvard, where he completed his Ph.D. in Japanese history under the direction of Professor Edwin Reischauer, who later became the U.S. Ambassador to Japan.

In 1959, Jackson Bailey returned to Earlham to begin teaching in the College’s history department. About that time, Landrum Bolling became the president of Earlham and developed an initiative that would eventually make Earlham a national leader in study abroad programs. President Bolling instructed his former student to begin an exchange program with a Japanese university. Professor Bailey, in turn, asked Ambassador Reischauer to introduce him to a college in Japan. That college was Waseda University.

Exchange with Waseda University

On the Waseda side, the contact from Earlham came at a time of growing interest in international programs. Internationally renowned scholar and Waseda president Nobumoto Ohama himself became a strong supporter of the Earlham - Waseda relationship. The result of these efforts was the beginning of the International Division program that accepted students from U.S. colleges and later from around the world.

Faculty members from departments across the Waseda campus and from nearby universities taught in the new study abroad program along with two professors with positions dedicated to the International Division, Yuriko Ikeda and Michiko Nakahara. These two professors remained affiliated with the study abroad program for most of its 40-year existence, teaching courses, leading study tours, and arranging for co-curricular opportunities.

The first group of Japan Study students at Waseda came from Earlham and Antioch College. These two colleges conducted the early negotiations with Waseda as representatives of a group of liberal arts colleges in the Midwestern states that eventually formed the Great Lakes Colleges Association (GLCA) in the early 1960’s. The Associated Colleges of the Midwest (ACM) later joined the Japan Study partnership to become what still is known informally at Waseda as the GLCA/ACM program.

the program grows

Over the years, the GLCA and ACM consortia have grown to serve many important functions for their member colleges, building on the institutional cooperation that formed Japan Study and other international programs. Their current efforts, which involve presidents, deans, and other administrators as well as faculty members, focus on a range of issues beyond the initial cooperation related to study abroad. Virtually any issue of importance to U.S. liberal arts colleges has been studied by the GLCA and ACM consortia, and its members are recognized around the world as leaders in higher education. But after 50 years, what is often forgotten is that the origin of the GLCA itself and of its cooperation with ACM resulted in large part from the emerging relationship with Waseda University.

At Waseda, a significant change took place in 2004 with the opening of the School of International Liberal Studies (SILS), which evolved from the earlier International Division study abroad program. And here, too, the impetus for that dramatic initiative came from the other side of the Pacific. The founding Dean of SILS, Vice President Katsuichi Uchida, was an exchange professor at Kalamazoo College in 1985-86. It is not an exaggeration to say that Professor Uchida drew on his experience at this GLCA college when he became a leader in the creation of the School of International Liberal Studies.

a strong foundation of reciprocation

  Japan Study 1970-71 on the Ueno Station Platform

Japan Study 1970-71 on the Ueno Station Platform

The unique part of the relationship between our institutions is its comprehensive nature. From the beginning, the exchange has been a two-way street, or perhaps “jet stream,” moving in both directions. Students, faculty, and administrative staff have made the trip over the Pacific Ocean to work together, learn from each other, and to be transformed by experiencing higher education in the other’s country.

People are the foundation of our relationship, but in a brief history it is impossible to acknowledge them all. Starting with the founders, both Earlham President Landrum Bolling and Professor Jackson Bailey received honorary degrees from Waseda in recognition of their groundbreaking work. The Japanese government also honored Professor Bailey when he received the Order of the Sacred Treasure in 1988. That same year President Haruo Nishihara of Waseda was presented with an honorary degree from Earlham as a way of commemorating the 25th year of our partnership and to show gratitude for his support and that of his predecessors, most importantly President Ohama.

During our years of cooperation, over 1,500 students from American colleges and universities have attended Waseda University, and a similar number of Waseda students have spent a year abroad at one of the GLCA/ACM colleges. Many of them have gone on to distinguished careers as diplomats, scholars, artists, and business executives. They play important roles in a wide range of settings linking Japan, the United States, and the rest of the world.

a lasting effect

In the arena of politics, Earlham alumnus David Shear, who spent the 1973-74 academic year at Waseda, recently became the U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam. His previous posts included Sapporo, Tokyo, and Beijing. From Waseda Izumi Nakamitsu, who spent the 1984-85 academic year at Hope College, currently serves as Director of Asia and Middle East Division in the United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations.

Numerous participants in our exchange programs later became professors, and some of them continue their Waseda and Japan Study connection. Kotaru Yoshida, a Waseda exchange student at Wabash College, later taught in the economics department at Albion College. And five current Waseda professors were exchange students at GLCA/ACM colleges. Jonathan Stockdale, graduate of Kenyon College and 1985-86 exchange student at Waseda, and Judy Tyson, a 1967 graduate of Earlham College and 1966-67 exchange student at Waseda, are now both teaching in the religion department and Japanese language department respectively at the University of Puget Sound, a college long affiliated with Japan Study. Richard Emmert, alumnus of Earlham and 1970-71 student at Waseda, taught courses on Japanese performing arts for many years in the International Division program.

The careers of many faculty members, too, have been changed by their participation in our faculty exchange programs. Vice President Katsuichi Uchida, established SILS. Richard Wood, who became assistant professor of philosophy at Earlham in 1966 with little experience in Japanese Studies, served twice as the administrator in charge of Japan Study at Waseda.  This experience led him to engage in academic study of Japan and also to enter administration. He later became president of Earlham College and served as the director of the prestigious Japan Society in New York City.

Our institutions, too, have been transformed by our work together. In 1963, few GLCA/ACM colleges taught courses on Japanese language, culture, and society. Now most of them offer instruction in Japanese. And in the early years of Waseda’s International Division, few non-Japanese faculty members taught in the study abroad program. Now faculty members in the School of International Liberal Studies represent countries from around the world, and the Ph.D.’s held by the Japanese faculty members who teach at SILS are equally international. 

We cannot say that all of the changes that have made our institutions more international since 1963 have come directly from the cooperation that we began in 1963. But it is certainly true that our partnership set the stage for additional developments that have allowed Waseda to call itself with pride, “the most international university in Japan,” and have made the GLCA and ACM nationally recognized leaders in study abroad and international education.

We are hopeful that the future will give us many more opportunities and that we can honor our forebears, who worked so tirelessly to create this enduring partnership.

Gary DeCoker, Japan Study Director 2003-2016
Excerpts from his opening remarks for Japan Study’s 50th Anniversary Celebration


GLCA and Waseda University

  President Landrum Bolling and Professor Jackson Bailey

President Landrum Bolling and Professor Jackson Bailey

Two seemingly unrelated events in higher education took place in 1962 and 1963.  In the United States, twelve of the leading liberal arts colleges from Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio formed a cooperative effort, The Great Lakes Colleges Association.   In Japan, Waseda University, in cooperation with Earlham College, opened a small International Division (Kokusaibu), for foreign students.

The link between these two events was, of course, Earlham College, a founding partner in both.   It is also no accident that the first chairperson of the Board of Directors of the Great Lakes Colleges Association (hereafter referred to as GLCA) was Earlham’s president, Landrum Bolling.   Landrum was, arguably, the most visionary of the founding presidents of the GLCA.

the GLCA consortium of colleges

The idea behind the GLCA was that a consortium of colleges could create many of the benefits of a large university without the bureaucratic liabilities that often accompany size.   One of the areas in which the founders saw potential was international education.   In order to take advantage of the diversity of strengths and interests among the twelve colleges, they used the idea of “agent colleges,” each charged with the task of developing and leading GLCA programs in specific countries or regions.   For example, Oberlin had a long involvement with China, and took on responsibility for that country.   Earlham volunteered for Japan.   Being an agent college entailed managing the program abroad, recruiting and selecting students and faculty, arranging visas and transportation, etc.  This model has proved remarkably durable and successful, though not uniformly so.  It requires faculty champions, who when the time comes, will in turn be succeeded by new faculty champions.  For this to succeed, deans and presidents, too, must be committed to this kind of international education.

Before the first group, drawn from Earlham and Antioch students as a trial effort, came to Waseda in 1963, Earlham, like most U.S. colleges and universities, offered very little opportunity for study abroad outside of Europe.  It had a history of involvement with Japan dating back to 1893, but did not teach Japanese nor offer study opportunities in Japan.  Program development in Japanese Studies began in 1959 with appointment of a young Earlham alumnus, Jackson Bailey, who had gone on to do a Ph.D. in Japanese history with Professor Edwin Reischauer at Harvard.  President Bolling played an important role in bringing Jack Bailey onto the Earlham faculty and in supporting his efforts.

the early years of japan study

A summer faculty seminar in Japan in 1962 helped some Earlham professors rekindle an interest in Japan that they had set aside, and caused others to develop a new interest.  Leonard Holvik in music, who had studied Japanese with Howard Hibbett at Harvard to be a translator during the Pacific War, was an example of the former, and Arthur Little in drama of the latter.  Years later the two of them collaborated in writing a successful Noh play, “St. Francis.”  Several outstanding contemporary foreign performers in Japanese traditional arts, such as Christopher Yohmei Blasdel and Richard Emmert, were among their students who became early participants in Japan Study.  In addition, young, well-trained teachers of Japanese were recruited from International Christian University (ICU), where Professor Fumiko Koide had developed a program dedicated to that purpose.

A most important step was to develop a study opportunity in Japan.  But how?  And where?  In 1962, U.S. Ambassador to Japan Edwin Reischauer was asked by Professor Bailey, his former Ph.D. student at Harvard, about finding the right university to partner with in establishing a new program in Japan for American undergraduates.  Dr. Reischauer suggested Waseda, and introduced Jack Bailey to President Nobumoto Ohama.  President Ohama, with the support of then Director of Academic Affairs Harukaze Furukawa, liked the ideas and took the unusual step of bypassing much of the faculty bureaucracy and assembling a group of younger internationally-minded faculty, one key member of which was Professor Hitoshi Aiba, who visited Earlham and Antioch with President Ohama in September 1963.

Viewed in terms of the state of international education in the 1960’s, the ideas that Jack Bailey and Landrum Bolling presented to President Ohama were very innovative.  Very few American students studied abroad anywhere, and where there was a program, the prevailing model was to transplant American higher education to a foreign site, an example in Japan being Stanford’s program at ICU.  It was called, “Stanford in Japan,” and was, in fact, a Stanford abroad program only for its students.  There was no systematic approach to faculty development for either Stanford, or ICU faculty.

An unlikely relationship

In contrast, the program at Waseda was, from the beginning, conceived by both sides as a partnership, however unlikely, between a large university and a consortium of small colleges.  These were institutions with very different cultures that worked to find new ways to work together toward developing faculty for the future.  The context in which they did this is very interesting:

In those days, very few American professors could use Japanese, or knew much about Japan, even when their fields of scholarship could have benefitted.  So President Ohama approved creation of a new position for a professional, bilingual Japanese to manage many of the administrative tasks, such as finding host families, smoothing relationships with those families, and solving daily problems along with numerous other responsibilities, thus freeing the visiting GLCA faculty member to study and teach.  Another very creative step at Waseda, which must have had President Ohama’s support, was inclusion of the visiting faculty member in the meetings of the International Division’s Steering Committee.  I know from personal experience how valuable these opportunities were in improving my understanding of Japan and its higher education system and governance.  I understand that upon creation of the new School of International Liberal Studies, the Kokusaibu and its Steering Committee ceased to exist, perhaps an inevitable price of progress.  But the opportunities for the Resident Director to teach and study fortunately continue.

In those days, very few Japanese professors, even those with serviceable English, had much contact with, or knowledge of, American approaches to teaching undergraduates.  So the GLCA set up a faculty exchange program that enabled Waseda faculty, usually younger faculty, to spend a year on one of our campuses.  Most of those faculty members later became leaders in the International Division, as did my good friend Professor Nobuo Hozumi of the School of Science and Engineering.

In addition to facilitating host families, Japan Study provided students with intensive Japanese language instruction, first at Earlham and then during the summer in Japan, and opportunities to work for three weeks on a Japanese farm in order to gain experience in rural Japan.  To find farm families we worked with the organization of people resettled from overseas following the 1945 surrender (the Nihon Kaitakusha Renmei).

president ohama and the liberal arts model

It is worth emphasizing how easy it would have been for President Ohama to say “No” to Ambassador Reischauer and Professor Bailey, and how courageous it was for him to undertake positive exploration of these ideas.  Japanese higher education in that era was heavily under the influence of the German ideal of the university.  The job of the professor was to do research and to share knowledge; making the subject interesting or motivating students was not widely seen as part of the professorial role.  Moreover, Earlham was, and is, a small liberal arts college, a type of institution not found in Japan, with the exception of International Christian University.  When I first came to Japan in 1968, I found that many able and well-intentioned Japanese colleagues still had trouble understanding the role of the leading liberal arts colleges in the U.S.  They tended to confuse them with “tanki daigaku” or community colleges.  Since it was customary in Japan for students who went on to graduate school and become professors to stay in the same university, it was difficult for faculty in Japan to understand the U.S. system in which the leading graduate schools, e.g., Harvard, Yale, Chicago, etc., draw many, in some years most, of their doctoral students from the graduates of liberal arts colleges.  They also were surprised that faculty at leading research universities might encourage their undergraduate students to do graduate work elsewhere.  Thus Jack Bailey, with an undergraduate degree from Earlham and a Ph.D. from Harvard, and I, with an undergraduate degree from a research university, Duke, and a Ph.D. from Yale, were normal in the American context, exceptional in the Japanese.  I have gone into some detail on this point because I am deeply impressed with President Ohama’s vision, openness to new ideas and models of education, and skill at creating new programs.  We are all in his debt.

Conditions have changed greatly in these 50 years.  Both Japanese and American faculty now have much more international experience than either had in 1963, or in 1968 when I first came to Waseda as a visiting faculty member.  I hope that our reflections on this fiftieth anniversary will lead to new models of faculty development for our times.  And I hope that our continuing partnership can do as well going forward as we have done in the past. 

Richard J. Wood, President Emeritus of Earlham College
His remarks for Japan Study’s 50th Anniversary Celebration