Various active-learning opportunities to develop the ability to learn, think, and take action on one's own initiative
The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, Government of Japan (MEXT) compiled the University Reform Action Plan, setting out the direction of university reform based on the issues and expected situations faced by Japan. With two main focuses on (i) reconstructing universities to be capable of handling major societal changes and (ii) enriching and strengthening university governance, the plan aims to develop human resources who can respond to social changes and build intellectual infrastructure. The plan requires that university education helps students establish their attitude toward learning on their own initiative. Furthermore, the need for problem solving type active learning was stated in the report (summary of deliberations) announced by the Central Education Council on March 26, 2012, regarding the nurturing by universities of the ability to continue lifelong learning and independent thinking, for an era that is difficult to predict. The report described the need for this kind of education to nurture a wide variety of human resources who can respond to any situation that may occur in an era which is difficult to predict, by practicing lifelong learning and by having the ability to think independently.
Improving skills through PBL (Project Based Learning)
The University cooperates with the administrative authorities and the local region to prepare many opportunities for learning where the students can acquire the ability to investigate issues in a practical way, by approaching the problems set to them independently and with trial and error.
Examples of PBL
The opening of a symposium planned by the students
Every January, the Faculty of Law Sasaki Seminar holds a symposium planned by students for the New Year. In 2014, a symposium was held on the theme of juvenile cases and considered the problems experienced by the generation of children living today and the responses of society to them. First of all, there was the presentation of a drama of a scenario by third year students and a mock trial. Then Masako Yamada, a former family court investigator, gave the keynote speech on the subject of "What can be seen from psychological appraisals in juvenile cases." There were also investigation reports and proposals by seminar students, and panel discussions.
Participation in the Student Project Plan Competition
The "Student Project Plan Competition 2014" involved university students proposing regional revitalization and product development plans using the subject matter of the specialty products, history and culture of Hyogo Prefecture. On December 14, 2014, a final selection meeting was held for the total of 33 teams of students from within the prefecture that had passed the primary selection. There were 8 teams from Kobe Gakuin University at the final selection. As a result of the screening through panel displays and presentations, the first prize was awarded to the "Clarte", paired team of students from the Hidaka Seminar and Tanaka Seminar in the Faculty of Business Administration, who had proposed a highly fashionable emergency carry bag.
Criminal law panel discussion
Every year, the Faculty of Law Sato Seminar hosts a panel discussion on criminal law. At the 16th finals held in December 2014, there was competition on methods for solving complicated crime example problems with arguments and questions. The five groups that had won through the preliminary rounds fought against each other. Each team was given 9 minutes to present their arguments using resumes and PowerPoint and then replied to questions from the other teams. Five people made up the A judges, including lawyers originally from the University and lecturers from the Faculty of Law, and seven previous members of the Seminar made up the B judges. These judges evaluated the teams. The winners were the team of third year students who had dominated the more senior students to win in the previous year too. Roughly 150 people attended to observe at the venue, including residents of the local area, and these observers participated in the voting for the best team.
Participation in the Kobe "Nisangaroku" (1 x 2 x 3 = 6) Project
The Kobe "Nisangaroku" (1 x 2 x 3 = 6) Project has been carried out as a cooperative project with Kobe City since 2012. This project promotes the so called "6th sector industry," which is carried out through the integration of the primary, secondary and tertiary industry sectors. In 2014, the participants included two groups from the Faculty of Nutrition and student staff from the volunteer activity support office and two teams were awarded the advisor's special award. This Project takes the products of people engaged in agriculture and fishing within Kobe City and uses the ideas of young people and the expertise of businesses. We will use this three-party cooperation to work for new "manufacturing" and to promote the appeal of Kobe around Japan.
Kobe City policy proposal contest for the future of Kobe created by university students
This contest has been held by Kobe City from 2014. It aims to put to use the viewpoints and flexible ideas of university students in the creation of the future of Kobe, in order to make Kobe into an even more attractive city and a city that is even more comfortable and easy to live in. The participants from this University included 53 students in 10 groups, mostly from the Faculty of Law, the Faculty of Economics and the Disaster Prevention/Social Contribution Unit. In the process of the research into the details of their proposals, the students interview parties such as the related departments in the City administration and learn about aspects such as the thinking of the administration in the implementation of its projects.
Problem-solving lab / Kobe Shimbun regional research institute M-Labo project
The "M-Labo" project is run by the Kobe Shimbun and the Hyogo Federation of Small Business Association and aims to bring together university students and the superior enterprises in the local area for employment matching. The core of the project is the "Problem-solving lab" which uses the expertise and team work of the seminars to work to solve the problems of businesses, so that the companies and the university students can meet directly and get to know each other.
Two inter-university collaborations for encouraging students to learn on their own initiative
Voluntary periodic training by the
volunteer fire corps (Pump operation
training at the Fire Station)
In AY2008, the "Collaboration Project by Four Universities in Port Island — Based on a Comprehensive Program Security, for Safety, and Health" (Kobe Gakuin University, Kobe Women's University, Hyogo University of Health Sciences, and Kobe Women's Junior College) was adopted as a strategic university collaboration support project under the auspices of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, Government of Japan (MEXT). In AY2009, the "TKK Three-University Collaboration Project — Developing Social Service Education Focusing on Disaster Management, Disaster Mitigation, and Volunteering" (Tohoku Fukushi University, Kogakuin University, and Kobe Gakuin University) was adopted as another strategic university collaboration support project. Starting with these two support projects under the auspices of MEXT, Kobe Gakuin University has been developing various programs that go beyond the framework of the University and encourage students to learn on their own initiative. In addition to student volunteer fire corps activities, debate competitions and experience-based disaster management drills, volunteer activities in disaster-stricken areas have also been implemented. In "project practical training" (a regular curriculum subject), students create projects from scratch, and plan and administer them. Interactions with other universities provide opportunities to enhance mutual learning.