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ILA President and CEO Cynthia Cherrey recently traveled to Japan to acknowledge the great work being done by ILA’s members* and to further promote the development of leadership education in the region.
Cherrey was hosted by ILA Board Member Mikinari Higano, who serves as a professor at Waseda University in Tokyo and as the Director of their Leadership Development Program in the Global Education Center. Higano is credited with developing the first required undergraduate leadership education course in Japan in 2006 – less than 20 years ago – for Rikkyo University in Tokyo.
While it took a while to gain momentum, from 2016-2019, 15 additional colleges in Japan launched credit-bearing leadership education programs. Higano believes that the growing popularity of the “active learning” approach as well as the recognition by businesses that they needed young employees educated in the art of leadership laid the ground work for the recent flowering of programs. For more details on the story of the early growth of leadership education programs in Japan, see Higano’s chapter, “Recent Developments in College Leadership Education in Japan,” in The Study and Practice of Global Leadership (Emerald, 2022).
In collaboration with Waseda’s Center for Higher Education Studies, Higano organized a full day of programming that included a guest lecture by Cherrey, a dynamic Q&A session with faculty and students, and smaller meetings discussing the state of the field. The day concluded with a three-hour Action Learning workshop led by Higano followed by a celebratory cooking party where Cherrey was treated to homemade French and Italian cuisine.
One attendee shared this heart-felt note with Cherrey after the event: “Thank you for having spent your time at the institution delivering such an incredible speech on all the data, trends, and especially insights into what’s going on in the leadership world. Your insight on the need for a more international approach to leadership convinced me that I’m immersing myself in the right opportunity to foster increasingly crucial skills in the coming decades.”
Cherrey thoroughly enjoyed her time in Japan and is excited for the future of leadership programs there and the ongoing work of ILA’s members.
* In addition to Waseda University, ILA has individual or organizational members in Japan from Fukuoka Women’s University, Konan University, Momoyama Gakuin University, Osaka City General Hospital, Ritsumeikan University, and Soka University – many of whom attended the event at Waseda.