Japanese higher education today is at a major turning point, due to the current social circumstances which pose challenges to our universities. In the midst of this serious situation, Ryukoku University needs to have a sound vision showing the way toward the future.
Our University song has a verse: “Bright may our university shine!” The source of brilliance of our university is, above all, its students. A vibrant and attractive university is one in which each of its students shines bright. Our urgent need is therefore to become a university which allows students and alumni to realize that it was really good to enter Ryukoku University.
When this happens, the brilliance of current students will attract high school students. In fact, the high regard held for student staff who welcome prospective students to our open campus has a substantial influence on their choice of university. The number of our students interested in contributing to society has recently increased, and their activities have also attracted the attention of the local population and administration. At the same time, it still remains our responsibility to care for all students who encounter difficulties or problems. Education is what all students need to shine bright.
“The Spirit of Jodo Shinshu” is, as we all know, the Founding Spirit of Ryukoku University; it is the foundation upon which we provide our education and research. This is exactly what we consider to be an essential characteristic of our university. “The Spirit of Jodo Shinshu” inevitably means “the vow of Amitabha Buddha to turn the delusion of all sentient beings into enlightenment.” Having encountered this Vow of Amitabha Buddha, Shinran Shonin, the founder of the Jodo Shinshu, lived a true life, revealing the true teachings.
If the "Spirit of Jodo Shinshu” is nothing other than the Spirit of Shinran Shonin, our principle and purposes in education are to foster “people who aspire for the truth, live the truth and reveal the truth”, by learning from Shinran Shonin's way of life. The mission of Ryukoku University is to provide students with the opportunity to search for the ultimate values of humans, to reflect on themselves, and to think about a true and rich spiritual life, thereby touching the Founding Spirit of our University. In this sense, we will prepare each student to discover “his or her own door to life”.
Furthermore, the Founding Spirit will invite students toward the horizon of “respect for all life”, a horizon where they cultivate tolerance towards the diverse values of people. The respect for “diversity” is another major characteristic of Ryukoku University.
Thanks to the efforts of our predecessors, Ryukoku University has now fully developed into a comprehensive university with ten faculties and one junior college. Our “school spirit”, incubated for 380 years since the foundation, exhibits a brilliant originality among the public educational institutions in Japan. We implement in all of our faculties and in the college three educational policies (i.e. admissions, curriculum and diploma policies) developed through our above-mentioned education principles and purpose and based on our “Founding Spirit.” We also encourage extracurricular education, where students acquire their own independent as well as cooperative spirit through sports, cultural or volunteer activities. Furthermore, Ryukoku University, more than ever, needs to establish a relationship of trust with parents, alumni, administration and industry, and gather momentum towards mutual collaboration to jointly cultivate the next generation.
The following “Ryukoku Strategic Plan 400” (hereinafter “RSP400”) presents the “capabilities and mindset” that students will acquire as their human foundation through our curriculum and extracurricular activities.
Currently, our student-body is diversifying; Ryukoku University, which promotes diversity awareness, should nurture across the university each student's willingness to learn through his or her own initiative. The faculty and staff of our university are also diverse; the way they learn from each other, while recognizing their differences in values, and work together to improve the quality of all of education at the University, will have a significant influence on students. In formulating RSP400, we pledge anew to respect the diversity of all members of the University and aim to be a university that continues to respect individual dignity, thought, creed, academic freedom, and fundamental human rights.
RSP400 is based on the behavioral philosophy called “Introspective Altruism” which we have held out as the basic concept of the 380th anniversary. Indeed, incessantly introspecting on one's own selfishness and experiencing compassion for others will lead to “the Founding Spirit of the University”, offering an opportunity for self-reformation. It is by no means an exaggeration to say that how we apply the Founding Spirit to the daily lives of students and faculty will determine the future destiny of a private university like ours. In this respect, I believe that the philosophy of “Introspective Altruism”, principle implementing the Founding Spirit, is required when formulating the future plan of our University.
“Can we just keep doing this?” “Aren't our ideas wrong?” “What are we missing?” By asking ourselves these questions, we will review how our institution should function, and will do things to maximize the interests of our students. The keystone of this “RSP400” is therefore the “review” or “re-examination” every four years.
If we look globally at modern society, we find ourselves confronted with too many serious challenges, which future students cannot escape by simply neglecting them. Many of these challenges arise, in fact, from self-centeredness of humans. If the students who study at Ryukoku University introspect on human self-centeredness and make efforts to solve the problems which result from it, they will thereby contribute greatly to society. This is precisely the practice of “Introspective Altruism”. This movement has already begun to emerge as the “Buddhist SDGs.”
In our vision for the future formulated in “RSP400”, I have upheld “Fostering citizens of ‘Magokoro’ (‘sincerity, wishing others happiness’).” I would like you to understand it as an expression of the educational outcomes of Ryukoku University. So why “Magokoro”? The word “Magokoro”, a common Japanese expression, is explained in the Daijirin dictionary as “A pure feeling of wishing to do something good for others.” It is precisely a definition denoting “a heart of Introspective Altruism”.
A person with a broad and noble spirit of “Magokoro” will be able to promote mutual understanding and fraternity among people who are even distant and have dissimilar cultures, religions, languages and histories, and such a person will be able to contribute to others' happiness. This is how education at Ryukoku University leads to the cultivation of human resources capable of contributing to world peace.
The Founding Spirit of Ryukoku University must be preserved and passed down to perpetuity as the core principle of the University, for will remain the same no matter how times change. The Founding Spirit which is indicated in the third lyrics of our University song by the words “shôbô (the true teachings of the Buddha)” and “hôdô (the teachings of the Buddha likened to a banner spear of a great general)” must be transmitted, as is sung in it, to the next generation with “Magokoro”.
Students having studied at Ryukoku University will open the “door to the future” with their own hands and leave the nest to enter society, thereby becoming “citizens of Magokoro.” And these alumni in society will have a strong influence on current students. I am convinced that students of Ryukoku University will shine through in such a virtuous cycle and this is how a “brilliant university” will be created.
President, Ryukoku University