The University of the Ryukyus has a markedly different history from that of other national universities that were established from earlier higher education institutions. The University of the Ryukyus was established in 1950 on the site of the ancient Shuri Castle. At that time, it consisted of 6 faculties: English, Education, Social Sciences, Science, Agriculture, and Applied Liberal Arts. After its establishment, the university received guidance from Michigan State University, a land-grant university, with the aim of creating a university that contributed to the local community by extending academic benefits to the community. In 1966, administration of the University of the Ryukyus was transferred to the government of the Ryukyu Islands. In 1972, when control of Okinawa reverted to Japan, the University of the Ryukyus fell under Japanese government administration and became a national university. In 1979, the university became a comprehensive university with six faculties: Education, Law and Letters, Science, Engineering, Agriculture, and Medicine. In 2004, all national universities including the University of the Ryukyus, were transformed into so-called National University Corporations. That same year, the Graduate School of Law was established, and the Faculty of Tourism Sciences and Industrial Management was established in 2008. Now the university consists of seven faculties and the Graduate School of Law.
Since its foundation over 60 years ago, it is through overcoming many ordeals that we stand here today. Our university has contributed to the local community, and we will continue to make improvements as a university with both local and global features.
Okinawa’s unique regional characteristics are rooted in a history influenced by interregional trade throughout East and Southeast Asia during the Ryukyu Kingdom Era, and in being a small island group located in a subtropical zone. Okinawa has developed its own distinctive culture and ideas, which have spread across the Asia-Pacific region by way of the oceans around Okinawa. At our university, various original research has been conducted based on the inheritance of our unique characteristics and developments in our modern society.
Thus, the University of the Ryukyus contributes to the collective global knowledge base utilizing the supple and flexible academic approaches and methods from the south to deal with critical issues, such as economic problems that arise in the modern-day globalization.
Distinctive research conducted by our university includes:
- Studies in the Asia-Pacific region, centering on Okinawa, including histories, societies, cultures, folklore, economics, literature, and gender issues. Such studies have been conducted mainly by the International Institute for Okinawan Studies and the Faculty of Law and Letters. In particular, the “Human Migration and the 21st Century Global Society” project has produced numerous achievements and a new international academic journal, “International Journal of Okinawan Studies” has published. A new project “Okinawa gender studies” has also started.
- Biodiversity in Coral Reefs. The Faculty of Science and the Tropical Biosphere Research Center have developed research mainly in those fields.
- Studies of natural disasters due to global warming, carried out mainly by the Faculty of Engineering, the Faculty of Agriculture and the Faculty of Science. The Disaster Prevention Research Center for Island Regions has obtained a special budget for education and research and has been carrying out research in such fields.
- GP (good practice) Program and educational programs for neighboring islands and remote areas conducted by the Faculty of Education and achieve great results.
- Research on information science and energy carried out by the Faculty of Engineering.
- Research on tropical agriculture and zymology carried out by the Faculty of Agriculture.
- Studies on tourism with new approaches, carried out by the Faculty of Tourism Sciences and Industrial Management.
- Advanced medicine for tropical infectious diseases, tumors, and agingrelated diseases. Universities provide a broad general education, education in the basic sciences, as well as specialized education. However, the core of university education is found in the students themselves as they discover potential issues, and think about and resolve those issues on their own. Starting this year, a new type of liberal arts education, called “Global Citizen Curriculum”, is instituted at the University of the Ryukyus.
Doctoral programs are provided in various fields through our graduate schools, including Humanities and Social Sciences, Engineering and Science, and Health Sciences. Such programs are also offered by the Graduate School of Medicine which has been recently enhanced. The Graduate School of Agriculture offers doctoral programs jointly with Kagoshima University and Saga University through the United Graduate School of Agricultural Sciences. The Graduate School of Law has promoted academic exchange with the University of Hawaii in order to foster legal professionals who can be active internationally.
The University of the Ryukyus has placed considerable importance on our natural environment and is the first national university that obtained EcoAction21 certification by the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies.