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East Asia Liberal Arts Initiative (EALAI)

The East Asia Liberal Arts Initiative (EILAI) aims to share the University of Tokyo's long-standing experience in liberal arts education to East Asia, and to ultimately implement a common liberal arts education in East Asia through exchange and collaboration with various universities in the region. The EALAI was first launched in 2005 as an overseas education program under the auspices of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology's Program to Promote the Internationalization of University Education (Support for Strategic International Cooperation). This program ended in 2008, and from April 2009 the EALA became affiliated with the College of Arts and Sciences, and then with the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences from April 2012. Since then, the EALAI has been both maintaining the achievements of previous years and further expanding its activities.

The cornerstone of the EALAI's activities is the East Asia Four University Forum (BESETOHA), which has been held since 1999. Since then, the four participating universities (University of Tokyo, Peking University, Seoul National University, and Vietnam National University, Hanoi) have taken turns to host a forum every year, where university presidents can gather together in one location to discuss shared concerns, as well as where participating universities can exchange dialogue and opinion and in particular, consider how to advance collaborative projects in the liberal arts. The acronym BESETOHA comes from the first letters of the cities in which the four host cities are located: Beijing, Seoul, Tokyo, and Hanoi.

The EALAI functions as an implementing body of BESETOHA in organizing meetings. It also participates in discussions of inter-university collaborations in liberal arts education at various symposia and workshops at the forum . Based on the outcome of these discussions, the expansion of the various activities that take place within the four universities has also become an important function of EALAI

One such activity is the joint E-lectures. Launched in 2008, these lectures use long-distance teleconferencing systems to address issues that are common concern across the entire East Asian region. For example, the joint E-lecture we have with Seoul National University where lecturers from each university take turns to deliver a lecture, is offered as a regular for-credit course at both universities, . These E-lectures serve as an important symbol for the process of building a shared liberal arts education across the East Asian region while still maintaining all its diversity.

Furthermore, since 2009 we have been holding the EALIA Open Sessions. This is an open discussion seminar, whereby the floor is opened for free debate and discussion after hearing from one or more speakers under a unifying theme.

Another project related to EALAI's activities is the Zensho / University of Tokyo / Vietnam National University, Hanoi Japan Research Base Program, established in June 2011 through a donation by Zensho Holdings, Inc, and which will promote Japan-related research and education in Vietnam.

Through these activities, the EALIA is helping to promote international cooperation in liberal arts education between major Asian universities and to share our liberal arts education with East Asia, which will in turn enhance Asia-related general education and our own liberal arts program.


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