Tokyo Tech has four distinctive education programs selected as Programs for Leading Graduate Schools1 supported by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology. The Academy for Global Leadership (AGL) is one of them. AGL recruits students from all departments with the aim of developing global leaders regardless of their fields of expertise.
AGL develops global leaders–individuals who have a firm academic grounding and in-depth expertise in their fields, interdisciplinary viewpoints, an understanding of Japanese culture and other world cultures, knowledge of technology management, and good inter-personal qualities including excellent communication skills. AGL's educational programs are designed for seamless master's and doctoral degrees programs and are operated in cooperation with Hitotsubashi University.
After enrolling in a master's program, prospective AGL students are required to earn designated credits in the Basic Leadership Courses provided by Tokyo Tech and Hitotsubashi University and pass screening tests in the form of debates and presentations conducted at a three-day camp. Those admitted to AGL can improve their cross-cultural awareness, communication, and consensus-forming skills while progressing with study and research in their individual fields of expertise. AGL students are exempt from paying tuition2 and receive career support services from advisors to ensure they are fully able to focus on their academic challenges.
One of the educational features at AGL is the Dojo (Japanese term for a martial arts training place) program. Dojo courses are debate and group-work oriented and consist of both Tokyo Tech and Hitotsubashi students from various departments, cultural backgrounds, and countries. Through the coursework in this diverse environment, students truly put their communication and leadership skills to the test as they search for real-world solutions to problems presented by top company executives and intellectuals.
Two kinds of Dojos are available: the Dojo for Science and Technology, Tokyo Tech's specialty, and the Dojo for Economics and Humanities, where solutions are sought from societal and economical viewpoints.
Another educational feature is the Off-Campus education program, in which AGL students engage in projects for more than six months at companies or research institutes in Japan or overseas. Unlike long-term internships often focused on providing experience, Off-Campus education programs are opportunities for students to put their skills and abilities to practical use while learning what areas need improvement. AGL students design their own projects–they set clear goals and independently search for organizations where they feel these goals can be achieved. In principle, projects should not be directly linked to thesis research topics in the students' affiliated departments. "Rather than following a path set by others, we hope AGL students blaze their own trail," encourages an Off-Campus education program coordinator.
Off-Campus education programs during academic years 2012-2014
Project on promoting the understanding of Japanese culture at the University of Technology, Sydney
Survey project on environmental policies at the Free University of Berlin
Organic EL light source development project at an optical equipment manufacturer
Research project on science and technology policy based in the University of California, Berkeley
Project for capacity development for promoting rural electrification using renewable energy in Kenya
Research project on conflict resolution techniques at Stanford University
New business development project at an international consulting firm
Survey project on venture financing at Goethe University Frankfurt
New business development project at a weather service company
Four years after its establishment, AGL recognized the inaugural students to complete the program in 2015. One of them Dr. Keita Azechi, comments:
Three and a half years went by surprising fast after enrolling in the AGL program in my second year as a master's student. Back in 2011 when the Great East Japan Earthquake struck, I was considering whether or not to go on to a doctoral program. At that time, I happened to see a poster of AGL recruiting its inaugural students. Having a strong desire to conduct further research, I decided to advance to a doctoral degree program and enroll in AGL. As a first-generation student of the program, I adopted a process of trial and error throughout the period, contributing to formulating the AGL program. I am very happy I completed the program as an inaugural student.
AGL students work closely with faculty members and reap the benefits of intense communication. I had many opportunities to try various things. My most memorable one was an overseas training period which I proposed myself as part of the Off-Campus education program.
AGL gave me a chance to experience countless things outside my own field of expertise. I'm not sure if I can leverage all of them, but I am confident that the knowledge and experiences I acquired at AGL will be a driving force in my life.
Some people are cynical about recent Japanese society, even referring to it as the two lost decades, but I keep a positive attitude. Using my AGL experiences, I know I can contribute to the future of society, and I hope my generation as a whole leads a process of change.
1 Program for Leading Graduate Schools
Support program to create integral master's and doctoral degree programs and implement curricula that overarches fields of specialization. The goal of the program is to foster leaders who are both highly creative and internationally attuned, playing leading roles across the globe regardless of specialization.
The waiver period is limited to the standard period of the curriculum.
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Published: May 2015