May 31, 2019
BEPPU, Oita – APU President Haruaki Deguchi took the podium as a guest lecturer for an Introduction to Culture and Society class on May 2. Taught by College of Asia Pacific Studies professor Kumi Seike, students newly enrolled at APU take the course as an introduction to learning at university.
Seike started the class by saying, “Sociology is the study of everything that occurs in a society, backed by the intent to improve that society. One element of that study is pondering the ideal shape and current state of universities, which are responsible for forging the next generation. Today, through a discussion with President Deguchi, we will hear what the president of a university thinks.”
President Deguchi began his lecture stating: “On the question of what kind of university I would like to make APU, I want to make it a university that students enjoy attending, where they can meet friends and peers, achieve a variety of things, discover interesting classes, and feel excited to be students here. To me, that is everything.” He continued, “As you proceed in your studies, the simplest path to follow will be to ask how things were done in the past and what the state of the world is now. That, and data. There is no way to understand society without examining evidence rather than anecdotes. I recommend that you get into the habit of examining situations by how history saw things, how the world sees things today, and mathematically, or how those perspectives appear in data form. Through these different lines of inquiry, you can properly view the bigger picture. If you are unsure of something, do not hesitate to ask your teachers. Please proceed to study by asking your teachers to show you data, point you to where proof lies, and indicate evidence to you.”
Next, President Deguchi remarked, “Studying at a university and learning something is the act of gradually increasing the number of possibilities in your life one at a time. Learning something, no matter what it is, makes life enjoyable. That is the reason we study. Moreover, recent medical studies on the brain have shown us that the curiosity that dictates the desire to study and the enjoyment of knowing something, as well as the ambition to learn, peaks in a human being’s brain matter at roughly nineteen years old. People who have discovered the fun and enjoyment of studying and the excitement of knowing a wide variety of things by the time they reach nineteen years of age go on to study for the remainder of their lives.”
He continued saying, “It is important that you know a variety of things and are able to apply that knowledge based on your own ideas. The world around us is changing at a dizzying pace. That means that knowledge becomes obsolete right away. The Internet has given us the ability to obtain a variety of information with ease, and we see how a greater weight is accorded to the ability to think. In other words, what is important at a university is to nurture not only your knowledge, but also your ability to think. That process begins with studying the thinking models and conception patterns of different people. Studying at a university means choosing a model that appeals to you or a way of thinking that suits you and building on it. Today, we have come to understand how the human brain works. We know that without the desire to learn, know, and listen, no matter how great a lecture may be it will just enter one ear and exit the other. As long as you do not have the desire to listen to a lecture, study something, or take on a challenge, your academic ability will not develop. Also, as people are lazy, they find it difficult to study on their own. It takes discussions and mutual encouragement with friends to get the study process going. Studying first becomes possible when you develop the desire to know something and mutually encourage others to do the same.”
President Deguchi then answered questions posed by the students taking the class. They touched on wide-ranging areas such as how President Deguchi wakes up in the morning, education, the meaning of life, and peace.