International Christian University

Creating Responsible Global Citizens
Through a Global Liberal Arts Education

Overall Concept

International Christian University is Japan's first liberal arts college. Since its founding in 1953, it has pursued the aim of "cultivating capable individuals, educated as internationally minded citizens, who will serve both God and people and who will contribute to lasting peace." International in name and deed, ICU has been a driving force in the internationalization of Japanese society with a wide range of pioneering programs, including a system of bilingual (Japanese-English) education adopted more than 60 years ago. Building on these achievements, ICU's Top Global University project seeks to put the school's educational ideals into practice in a manner tailored to the global realities of the twenty-first century. Through initiatives geared to Academic Reform, Educational Development, and Further Internationalization, we are determined to build and demonstrate a model for a Global Liberal Arts education to nurture well-rounded citizens equipped with the language skills needed for global dialogue, as well as knowledge and insight worth sharing, and the good character needed to be trusted by partners.

Academic Reform: A Globally Inclusive Student Admissions System

At ICU, graduates of the Japanese school system have traditionally matriculated in April, while those who studied overseas have typically entered the university in September. At the time it was instituted, shortly after ICU opened, this was an innovative system. In today's globalized world, however, the student body has become far more diverse. Today individuals of many nationalities gather at ICU to study, and even students of the same nationality may have substantially different educational and linguistic backgrounds. Japanese students who returned home after spending years overseas may graduate from a Japanese high school without acquiring college-level Japanese skills. Foreign students from non-English-speaking countries may lack full mastery of the English language. Each student presents a unique set of circumstances. To accommodate such diversity, ICU will offer students a choice of April or September entry based on the individual's linguistic and educational background. We will accomplish this by adding three new admission options: September Admissions for International Students by Documentary Screening and Interview (in Japanese and English; beginning in 2017), April Admissions for International Students by Documentary Screening and Interview (in Japanese and English; beginning in 2018), and April Admissions by Documentary Screening (in English; beginning in 2018).

The addition of these new admission options also has major ramifications for the curriculum. Until now, all April entrants underwent intensive English-language training, while all September entrants studied Japanese intensively. Under the new system, we are beefing up both Japanese- and English-language instruction, for April and September entrants alike, while offering a wider range of classes tailored to individual proficiency. Ultimately, this will allow students to study their specialized courses in greater depth, whether in Japanese or in English. At ICU we do not have separate Japanese- and English-language specialized courses, and there are no special programs that allow students to graduate using English only. We want our Japanese and foreign students to study together, not separately, so that all of them will learn to engage in high-level scholarly discussion in both languages. Japanese and English flow freely in our classrooms, where contact between people of divergent backgrounds stimulates critical thinking about oneself and others. This is the meaning of a bilingual Global Liberal Arts education at ICU.

Educational Development: Integrated Support for Students and Faculty

In April 2015, as one of our TGU initiatives, ICU opened the Center for Teaching and Learning. The Center consolidated student-support functions that had previously been dispersed among academic departments and created a single organization dedicated to supporting students and faculty alike. To develop a learning environment adapted to students of diverse linguistic backgrounds—graduates of Japanese schools, Japanese students educated abroad, native English speakers, and native speakers of other languages—it is not sufficient to design a better curriculum. One also needs a school-wide system to better support student learning outside the classroom. At the Center for Teaching and Learning, we assist with academic planning to help students achieve their academic goals. Guidance in thesis preparation, geared to each student's language proficiency, is provided to undergraduates and graduate students alike. In addition, the Center promotes effective teaching through faculty development programs and fine-tuned professional support spanning many areas, including the use of new information and communication technology in classroom instruction. It offers systematic support whereby new faculty can gain familiarity with ICU's academic system and veterans can explore new modes of instruction. In each case, the aim is to boost the university's across-the-board effectiveness as it undertakes to educate an increasingly diverse student body. This is the unified mission of the Center for Teaching and Learning.

Further Internationalization: Toward a Global Liberal Arts Model

ICU is working with colleges and universities around the world to develop a world-class model for a Global Liberal Arts education. To this end, we are actively engaged in partnerships with Middlebury College, the fourth-ranked liberal arts college in the United States (2016), and the Global Liberal Arts Alliance (GLAA), a league of approximately 30 universities in 16 different countries.

〈 Outcomes to Date 〉

2023 Goals


Promote "2+1" acquisition of Japanese, English, and one other language.


Increasing number of classes taught in English.


Increase percentage of Senior Theses written in English.


Offer language programs tailored to students' linguistic backgrounds.


Increase dormitory capacity to 30% of student body.