About the Program
Contemporary society is characterized by the massive and rapid exchange of people, objects, money, and information around the globe. This fluidity requires that we learn to coexist in diverse multicultural societies. In Japan, too, there is an awareness of this new reality. For example, a Ministry of Affairs and Communications (MIC) of Japan document defines multicultural coexistence as: “persons of differing nationalities and ethnicities, while acknowledging and accepting their respective cultural differences, building relationships of equality with one another, and living together as members of the same local community” (Report by the Research Council on the Promotion of Multicultural Coexistence, 2006). Based on this definition, the Ministry is conducting a drastic policy overhaul in a number of fields, including immigration and emigration, labor, education, welfare, social participation and integration, and urban planning.
Although MIC’s definition is a useful starting point to promote multicultural coexistence in Japan, it is arguably too narrow for today’s dynamic social context. To realize a truly globalized society, we must consider in-depth issues that emerge when people with diverse and often multiple identities come together to live and work in the same environment. This means that we must look beyond issues of nationalities, ethnicities, languages, and religions. Rather, we must consider how cultural affiliations necessarily encompass variations not only in ethnic background, but also socio-economic background and due to the intersection of factors such as gender differences, generation gaps, health status, and disability.
The reality of multicultural coexistence necessitates a new generation of leaders, who are equipped with advanced knowledge and skills that span the natural and social sciences as well as the humanities, and have hands-on experience in global settings. Additionally, the next generation of leaders must have display integrity, drive, and the ability to inspire others, as well as the capability to design and implement policies and measures to meet the needs for a diverse society to coexist.
This doctoral program is designed for students who strive to enhance their expertise within their relevant specialist fields, while simultaneously training to become multicultural innovators. A multicultural innovator is defined as a researcher or practitioner equipped with the knowledge, skills, principles, and ability to take the necessary actions to design and implement highly original and future-oriented models for the coexistence among people with diverse social and cultural backgrounds. These competencies will be rooted in a profound understanding of others. As it is primarily through a sense of respect for others that this program will achieve its goals of enhancing multicultural understanding and changing society for the better, we use the acronym “RESPECT” (Revitalizing and Enriching Society through Pluralism, Equity, and Cultural Transformation).
Message to prospective students
At Osaka’s schools, one will often hear such phrases as “let’s celebrate our differences” and “diversity brings strength”. While these expressions have emerged primarily in the courses of educating non-Japanese students in Osaka, they represent the inclusive perspective, in which the differences that exist among people—not just those of nationality and ethnicity, but also those of physical (dis)ability, family background, and even sexual orientation—are not viewed as negatives, but rather as valuable resources.
Although the RESPECT Program has only just been launched, we have already brought together an impressive team who are committed to the Program objectives and looking forward to working with committed students. Currently, we are accepting students who are dedicated to these objectives. Program participants will be more than just students; they will be our partners in this very new and innovative project. Together, we will carve out a new path to a shared future, and develop this Program as a platform for the realization of a multicultural society where diversity is embraced and people may live in harmony.
Kokichi Shimizu, Program Coordinator
Professor, Graduate School of Human Sciences