Tokyo Tech News
The 2018 Global Leadership Practice intensive course, arranged for the first time this year in partnership with Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech), was held from June 18 to 29 on Ookayama Campus. Twelve students from six countries and regions joined the course to develop their leadership skills, focusing on self-evaluation, case studies, organization observation and analysis, site visits, and a final team project.
Global Leadership Practice is one of the core subjects under the Global Awareness and Other Breadth Courses for students in the Global Scientists and Engineers Course (GSEC) Advanced. GSEC was established in 2013 to provide students with the skills and expertise necessary to become globally competitive scientists and engineers. As of July 2018, 1,711 students had registered for the course, 47 of whom were in the advanced course.
This year, Global Leadership Practice was composed of students and instructors from particularly diverse backgrounds. Five students from Japan, one from the Netherlands, one from Brazil, two from Indonesia, two from Taiwan, and one from Senegal joined teaching assistants from Indonesia and Nepal, and a lecturer and teaching assistant from Georgia Tech to examine different leadership styles closely linked to social backgrounds and cultures.
The course was developed and adopted for Tokyo Tech based on the leadership program at Georgia Tech. Before implementation, instructors from the two institutions planned and discussed the content and pedagogy. In the United States, a significant amount of tasks are assigned to students before and after each class, where active participation is expected. Students are also asked to read a textbook on leadership, and to write blog articles on leadership based on their own experiences. These practices were also adopted at Tokyo Tech. While the use of English and active learning style throughout the course challenged some students, the friendly atmosphere of the class and instructors resulted in active commitment from all the students. "In this class, there are no right or wrong answers, and we encourage you to openly express your thoughts and opinions," the instructors encouraged the students. As a result, students participated in lively discussion on various topics, helped each other through tough content and assignments, and overcame their inhibitions to find great value in the group activities.
In order to pinpoint their own strengths, values, and capabilities, the first session was held under the theme "Who Am I?" This was followed by a second session focusing on teamwork, where students aimed to extract the strengths out of team members in order to transform their own values and goals into reality. Students learned how to adjust to issues and develop problem-solving skills in a multicultural environment. They were also asked to develop new tools for specific problems by utilizing provided materials in a short period of time. Through this activity, students learned how to build teamwork and leadership skills in order to realize the common goal of a group, and to create an environment where everyone can comfortably participate and share opinions.
Students also examined the leadership methods of different countries based on the concept of egalitarian and hierarchical styles, taking into consideration history, culture, and customs. They then discussed various types of leadership styles based on their own experiences. Participants learned through this session that decision making differs from country to country, and that these varying characteristics require ways to deal with unconscious biases.
The focus then shifted to multicultural teamwork. This session was led by Tokyo Tech alumni Dr. Minh Dung Nguyen, who currently works for Facebook Japan. After listening to Nguyen's lectures and experiences in both Japanese and multinational companies, students reflected on how to make ideas and goals into reality in terms of their own career development.
On the last day, three groups made final presentations on the analysis of two different leaders. They shared the differences and similarities of selected leaders and made proposals about a system of leadership for multicultural environments. All groups selected leaders with diverse backgrounds from fields such as politics, industry, and civil movements. Overall, the intensive course stimulated students through a mix of lectures and active learning, challenging them to step out of their comfort zone.
The next two-week leadership program within GSEC is planned for March 2019 at Georgia Tech.