"Bridging the Future" by Harnessing Culture and Local Characteristics
The founding philosophy of the University of the Ryukyus, established on May 22nd of 1950, is “Freedom and Equality, Peace and Tolerance,” which reflects the principles of Abraham Lincoln. Based on this philosophy, the University of the Ryukyus has set as its guiding principles the “pursuit of truth,” “contributions to society, locally as well as internationally,” and the “pursuit of peace and coexistence.” The University continues to endeavor to uphold its future vision as “an institution with both local and global features that functions as an outstanding education and research hub in the Asia-Pacific region,” and it has been making steady progress towards these goals.
The University is located in Okinawa, the only prefecture in Japan that consists of islands. Although the islands of Okinawa may be small, each one has its own unique ecosystem as well as distinct histories and cultures that encompass a harmonious blend of people, culture, and natural surroundings. The islanders have coexisted with nature while preserving the wisdom of their traditional culture for generations. They also possess a history of active exchange with other islands. Because of each island’s strong individuality, Okinawa has evolved into a diverse multicultural society.
Stemming from its location within the Asia-Pacific islands, the University’s identifying features and strengths derive largely from its “island attributes.” The University has developed various distinctive education and research activities, reflecting its island and marine environments, such as tropical and subtropical climates. More specifically, research in the fields of coral reef ecosystems, subtropical agriculture, tropical medicine, island disaster management, and island environmental studies have allowed the University to exercise its core strengths, propelling its efforts towards the realization of its position as a center for global research in subtropics and island studies.
In terms of education, the “University of the Ryukyus Global Citizen Curriculum” was launched for all students enrolled from the academic year 2012, in line with the objectives of nurturing “young talent capable of contributing to both local and international society as global citizens of the 21st century.” Under this curriculum, seven educational goals – “autonomy,” “social skills,” “regional and global characteristics,” “communication skills,” “information literacy,” “problem-solving skills,” and “expertise” – have been set as goals to be achieved by graduation so as to foster the creation of educated global-minded youth.
The University was founded following a strong yearning by Okinawans, those living on the island and abroad, for the establishment of an institution of higher education in Okinawa. The circumstances surrounding the University’s establishment sets it apart from other national universities in Japan. From its early beginnings until the present day, the University has honored its mission as a land grant university by contributing benefits from its educational and research achievements back to society. It has also worked in close cooperation with local communities to support the conservation of diversity in society and the cultural distinctiveness on the islands of Okinawa.
As the only integrated university in Okinawa, the University shall continually strive to share with the local community and the rest of the world its achievements from research that leverages Okinawa’s characteristics as a sub-tropical island, as well as discoveries that may expand internationally and reflect in some way Okinawa’s unique historical, social and cultural features. Working closely together with others for the collective good of nurturing versatile young talent, the cooperation of the government, citizens, businesses, as well as the education and medical industries will assist the University in continuing to contribute to the preservation of a diverse multicultural society. The University strives to carry out this mission to the best of its abilities by functioning as a “Global Academic Network” linking the Asia-Pacific region.