Tokyo Tech News

Tokyo Tech Lecturer Patrick Harlan highlights the importance of storytelling


Published: April 8, 2015

Lecture series for the launch of the Institute for Liberal Arts

In line with Tokyo Tech's ongoing education reform, the implementation of the new education system in April 2016 will bring with it the establishment of the Institute for Liberal Arts.

In preparation for this, the working group of the Institute for Liberal Arts is holding a total of seven lectures to examine the Institute's global-oriented approach on liberal arts from various perspectives. These lectures are only open to Tokyo Tech graduate students, faculty, and staff, but this report gives everyone a glimpse of the Institute's efforts in liberal arts education.

Lecture 1
Enhance teaching skills through communication! - Techniques applicable to classes, academic conferences, and the media

  • Speaker :
    Patrick Harlan
    Lecturer, Tokyo Tech
  • Date :
    February 12, 2015

Tokyo Tech Lecturer Patrick Harlan
Tokyo Tech Lecturer Patrick Harlan

The first installment of the lecture series was conducted by lecturer Patrick Harlan, who emphasized the importance of storytelling at any level. Whether it is a young child listening to a folktale or an adult thinking about world history, it is the story rather than the detailed explanation people remember. Harlan pointed out that stories sometimes make a larger impact on people than the truth does– truth here meaning facts which can be confirmed by experiences and thoughts.

When discussing the three artistic proofs, Harlan proposed that logos, often regarded only as logic, also refers to expression, the primary element of storytelling. If listeners are enchanted by the manner of expression and can believe and relate to the speaker, a vivid story that transcends thought is born, Harlan explained.

To inspire unexpected ideas, the session provided an opportunity for participants to engage in discussions. The activity was an experiment in exchanging and expanding out of their frames of mind. Based on logic and their own experiences, participants talked to each other about their frames of mind and also seemed to enjoy stepping out of them.

Harlan's lecture stirred conversation and laughter among participants. With ancient rhetoric as its basis, the lecture successfully demonstrated both old and new liberal arts trends.

The Institute for Liberal Arts lecture series is supported by the Top Global University Project funded by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology.

Tokyo Tech's Education Reform

For an overview of Tokyo Tech's education reform, please visit here.

Tokyo Tech's Education Reform


Institute for Liberal Arts working group