May 25, 1995
Vol. 14, No. 18

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    University offering humanities M.A. program in Japan

    After extensive negotiations and planning, the University has established a Master of Arts Program in the Humanities in Japan. The program represents the first time a major American research institution will be offering a graduate-level degree program in Japan.

    "We have established this new program in response to the growing demand by Japanese professionals for graduate-level education to advance their academic and career goals," President Sonnenschein said.

    "The Division of the Humanities, which has long had important programs in East Asian languages and civilizations, is delighted to be able to offer a program of this kind for Japanese students," said Philip Gossett, Dean of the Humanities Division.

    Approximately 40 students -- who represent a wide range of professional experience and who all have undergraduate degrees from major Japanese institutions, such as Tokyo University -- have been accepted in the program, set to begin June 30.

    Students in the program will include a vice president from Lehman Brothers Japan, an assistant vice president of Citibank Tokyo, an official of the Japanese Ministry of Education, an interpreter who has worked with former Presidents Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford, a well-known author of children's stories, a social worker, high-school teachers and government officials.

    One major advantage of the new master's program for Japanese professionals is that they will be able to continue with their professional lives during the day and will only be required to study in the United States for two five-week periods. The first degrees will be awarded in August 1997.

    "In Japan, there is a demand for a high-profile master of arts degree from a prestigious American university," said Philippe Desan, Associate Dean of the Humanities Division and Director of the Master of Arts Program in the Humanities in Japan. "The program we are offering will appeal to internationally minded working young people who seek to enhance their career opportunities and who would like to become more knowledgeable about issues in the humanities currently being debated on this side of the Pacific. We will be offering an intensive program focusing on the development of critical, analytic and writing skills -- exactly what professionals in Japanese society are looking for, and exactly what the University of Chicago has always done best. And as we see in our first pool of students, we have attracted the creme de la creme of Japanese professionals."

    The new program will offer a variety of humanities and social-sciences courses, with an emphasis on American culture, taught by University faculty members. Summer and fall courses in 1995 will be taught by James Redfield, the Howard L. Willett Professor in the Committee on Social Thought; Herman Sinaiko, Professor in the Humanities; and Joseph Williams, Professor in English Language & Literature. They will be assisted by four advanced graduate degree candidates at Chicago. Classes will be held in space leased from the International Education Center in Tokyo.

    Designed to take just over two years to complete, the program offers a core component of required courses. These include Modes of Discourse & Structures of Response, Perspectives in Social Science Analysis, and Issues & Texts: Strategies of Interpretation. Students can then select from elective courses -- primarily in the humanities but including some social-sciences courses -- to design their own programs of study according to their personal and professional needs. The academic requirements for the new program are similar to those for earning other master of arts degrees at Chicago.

    -- Jeff Makos