About AIU

Various Approaches of AIU

Unique Programs and Activities to Enhance AILA

Integrated Knowledge, the skills to solve problems with a multifaceted and cross-disciplinary approach, can only be useful in the real world when you are also equipped with Interpersonal Skills, the social skills to advance projects with passion, empathy, and respect towards others and the local community.
AIU offers a variety of opportunities for students to exercise and practice the skills they acquired through AIU's International Liberal Arts education while deeply interacting with people inside and outside the AIU community.

1. International Project-Based Learning

We offer various international collaborative PBL (Project-Based Learning) courses in cooperation with overseas universities including partner universities. In these PBL courses, students of AIU and overseas universities form a group and explore solutions from a global perspective for concrete issues in the real world through fieldwork at home and abroad. In collaboration with their fellow students, they gain practical problem solving skills, coordination skills, and tolerance to different values.

The answer is in PBL.

International Project-Based Learning (PBL) courses are conducted with partner institutions in the ASEAN region. In PBL, students work on various issues related to each area of the region through lectures, documentary research, data collection and analysis through fieldwork and other means, presentations and discussions, and report writing. Through cross-cultural experiences and interactions, students will aim to develop the ability to think and solve problems based on multifaceted analysis of the literature and collected data, as well as acquire communication and collaboration skills. In the 2019 academic year, PBL was conducted on these themes: the green economy (an economy that aims for sustainable development and growth) in the state of Sabah on Borneo, Malaysia; the potential for sustainable regional development and revitalization in Akita Prefecture and north-eastern Thailand; Japan-Thailand wartime relations, with a focus on Bangkok, Thailand; and the potential for cultural and economic exchange between Akita Prefecture and Thailand.

Dr. Norihito MIZUNO,
Project Promotion Director

International Project-Based Learning 01 International Project-Based Learning 02


2. Private Sector Funded Course

Course Example: SOC326 Urban-Rural Linkages and Community Development (JR-East funded course)

AIU has a partnership agreement with the East Japan Railway Company (JR-East) Akita Branch Office and offers a fieldwork course on the theme "Kankei-Jinko" (the population of people who bring value to a region without living there), a concept that suggests a new relationship between urban and rural areas. In the course, students visit communities affected by depopulation and aging and, through interviews, study cases of community building where residents collaborate with newcomers and visitors. Students explore the possibilities of independent community development that is not limited by conventional frameworks of community revitalization and rural regeneration.

*The theme is subject to change.

Private Sector Funded Course

We deepened our understanding through repeated student discussions on "How creating Kankei-Jinko in Akita will contribute to regional revitalization" based on case studies of multiple communities. We also went outside the classroom for fieldwork, where we interviewed Local Vitalization Cooperators and members of the local community in Akita prefecture and considered the common characteristics across regions from the aspect of Kankei-Jinko. I learned the difficulties of promoting activities while gaining the understanding and cooperation of community members who have different perspectives and the significant role of mediators. Even if I leave Akita after graduating from AIU, I realized I could still play an important role in regional revitalization as a member of the Kankei-Jinko.

Completed SOC326 Urban-Rural Linkages and Community Development

3. AILA Activities and Projects

Almost all Advanced Liberal Arts Courses include opportunities for knowledge integration and practical application as AILA projects inside and outside of the classroom.

Picture of students and faculty in the classroom

Course Example: SUS310 Conservation and Sustainable Development

Students learn the importance of the global environment in the context of the world's economy and society and consider the issues of environmental conservation to become future players in sustainable development. Through small group works on achieving sustainable land use and other various themes, students consider how to achieve sustainable development. By discussing problems with people who have different perspectives and by deepening their understanding of the issues through occasional disagreements, students acquire the skills to problem-solve collaboratively. In the real world where diverse perspectives intersect, an idea that everyone agrees with from the very beginning can be considered an underdeveloped idea. We aim to break free from the Ivory Tower syndrome.

4. Collaborative Project with Business Sector

AIU Design LAB

Picture of AIU Design LAB

Under the concept of Designing a better Akita, students in this program collaborate with companies in Akita Prefecture to solve their problems. Students take their classroom learning to a company and deepen their practice of real-world application.

Sample assignments
  • Digital transformation (DX) strategy for a long-established company, with consideration to tourism after the COVID-19 pandemic
  • The future role of service stations in the era of Mobility as a Service (MaaS)
Industry-Academia-Finance Partnership Agreement

Based on the agreement signed in May 2021 with Mitsubishi Corporation Energy Solution Ltd., Venti Japan Inc., and Hokuto Bank, Ltd., AIU is offering endowed courses on power and energy starting the 2022 spring term. Students learn about sustainable energy efforts and concerns around the world through lectures and fieldwork, and train their minds to problem-solve while applying them to Akita prefecture's issues. In addition, by learning leadership from active global leaders in and outside of Japan, AIU aims to cultivate human resources that can revitalize the economy in Akita prefecture, in Japan, and around the world.

5. Community Outreach

Picture of community outreach project at local elementary school Picture of community outreach project at local elementary school

AIU's community outreach programs engage a broad range of ages, from infants to university students, with a focus on elementary and junior high schools in Akita prefecture. Through these activities, students apply and deepen their knowledge acquired during their university experience. AIU shifted the activities online in the academic year 2020, allowing students from partner universities to participate in the outreach programs virtually.

6. Reform of English Education

Top Global University Project (AY2014-AY2023)
English Village

Picture of English village in a local high school Picture of English village

We run a program called “English Village” for elementary, junior and senior high school students to learn English in English. Through the experience of receiving training from the teaching staff prior to teaching classes for school children, students (graduates, undergraduates, and international students) of AIU learn to be independent and active in their own studies. Children and students in Akita prefecture as well as outside the prefecture participate in the program and enjoy learning English in the global environment of Akita International University.

Teachers' Seminars

Picture of Teaching for teachers Picture of teacher's demo class

We also hold teachers' seminars for English teachers of elementary, junior and senior high schools inside and outside Akita prefecture. Workshops on fundamental understanding of teaching English in English, practical teaching methods and class management are held during teachers' seminars. It fulfills the function of recurrent education to promote the development of global human resources in primary and secondary education based on the practical methodology of English education we have developed for the common good.

7. Partner's Programs

Top Global University Project (AY2014-AY2023)

One of Akita International University's initiatives under the Top Global University Project has been to co-develop special short programs in Japan Studies with faculty members from partner universities.

These Partner's Programs give participating students the opportunity to experience unique aspects of Japanese language and culture and enhance their understanding of Japanese culture with coursework not available anywhere else.

Virtual Winter Program (AY2021)

A six-week online Japanese language course primarily for students at the Australian National University. Students learn practical Japanese while deepening their understanding of modern Japanese culture through conversations with a wide range of faculty and members of the local community. Students participated in a joint project where they teamed up with AIU undergraduate students to interview people living in Japan, and presented their findings.

Picture of Emma YEN

This program was a really great experience! Because of COVID-19, I couldn't travel to Japan to experience Akita for myself, but I never felt like I was missing out. I learned a lot about Akita from the Japanese students we worked with in class and from the teachers as well. Additionally in class, we learned about Akita through our assignments and interviews. I was also able to make some really great friends from the program as well. I think that learning online from home during the holidays was really useful for my Japanese skills as well. Instead of having a break from Japanese before the new semester began, I was able to continue speaking Japanese through the holidays and transfer smoothly into a new Japanese course. We were also able to learn valuable skills such as writing emails and practicing speaking Keigo. I think this program is perfect for students who want to experience Japan but cannot because of COVID-19 and want to do something useful with their holiday time and keep up their Japanese skills.

Emma Yen, The Australian National University, Australia

Details about our partner's programs are available at the following webpage.

Partner's Programs

8. Themed House

Top Global University Project (AY2014-AY2023)

Picture of Themed Houses

The campus has a student dormitory for first-year students and student apartments for second-year and older students, where students live together with foreign exchange students. To enable students to take advantage of this diverse environment, Themed Houses were introduced in the academic year 2014, where students live together for a semester to plan and organize themed events. In the academic year 2021, the Nihongo House and Russian (Slavic) Language & Culture House were both actively engaged, although their activities were restricted to online format due to the pandemic. AIU considers campus life to be part of its liberal arts education, where students can enhance their skills in daily life in addition to their curricular activities.

Details about our themed houses are available at the following webpage.

Themed House