Priorities:Sophia University Student Priorities

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2021 Strategic Priorities

Strategy #1 Improving Information Sharing on the Loyola Bulletin Board


Sophia University provides students with a vast amount of information about upcoming events, student life, extracurricular activities, scholarships, study abroad programs, and more through a bulletin board on the Loyola Web Service. However, as we conducted research and interviews for the Landscape Canvas, we found that many students have a difficult time accessing this information due to issues with the search function, language barriers, and a number of other reasons. Not only do these barriers make it difficult for students to access general information provided by the University, but they also prevent students from easily finding opportunities related to Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Therefore, we developed the assumption that the Loyola bulletin board is not working as well as it should. In order to address this, our idea is to improve information sharing at Sophia by enhancing the current bulletin board. We hope that our research and findings can be a catalyst for more extensive developments of Loyola and act as a first step in improving information sharing at Sophia so that a greater number of both Japanese and international students can learn about I&E resources and opportunities that are available on campus.


We will need to discuss what possibilities there are to improve the existing platform with the Loyola Web Admins at Sophia. Through the feedback we received from students via a questionnaire, we found that while there are some students who are satisfied with the current system, the majority of students are dissatisfied with the system and face common problems. Therefore, we believe that some minor modifications and the addition of several functions can have a significant impact on how students perceive the Loyola bulletin board and make important information even more accessible than it is now. Some of the changes we want to make to the Loyola bulletin board include: 1). An own category for I&E 2). A function to save posts 3). A filter function to separate posts written in English and Japanese 4). Adding more information written in English and making it easier to find 5). Adding more specific categories and a way to filter them 6). The ability to customize the type of information students receive by email.


1. Create a first prototype, a vision of how we imagine it can look like. 2. Based on the feedback gathered from students on their experiences and opinions about the bulletin board’s functions, make a more detailed list of improvements we want to make. 3. Get in touch with the web administration at Sophia and explain to them the wishes of the students. In addition, find out if they are willing to work with us to improve the bulletin board. 4. Make adjustments based on possible limitations of the Loyola site. 5. Launch the new, improved Loyola bulletin board.

Strategy #2: Sophia Interdisciplinary Forum


Sophia University’s main campus in Yotsuya, Tokyo, is home to a wide range of faculties and graduate schools in both the sciences and humanities. However, through our research and interviews, we recognized that there are still many divides that exist between departments that make it difficult for students, faculty, and staff to engage in interdisciplinary collaboration. We believe that these barriers are stifling creativity and innovation. Therefore, we started to ask ourselves: “How might we create a space that brings together students from many different departments?” and “How might we break down the invisible walls between students, faculty, and staff?” The idea we had was to create a quarterly forum where anyone can freely join to discuss a wide range of topics that fit under the overarching theme of sustainability. Through the Interdisciplinary Forum, we aim to provide a safe and welcoming space that fosters communication, collaboration, and connection among students, faculty, and staff at Sophia. By breaking down disciplinary walls and bringing people together, we hope to promote more creative thinking and inspire participants to collaborate on innovative projects together. The Forum will act as a precursor to the Innovation Sparker Program (Strategy #3) and other I&E related activities on campus that can provide students with further skills to go through with possible ideas and projects to initiate change.


The Interdisciplinary Forum will take place on a quarterly basis (once every three months), and it will be student-led and student-centered. However, it will also be welcome to all faculty and staff at Sophia who are interested in discussing topics and themes related to sustainability with students. To facilitate this Forum, we will need to organize a core group of students who can decide the quarterly themes, invite guest speakers, manage the social media platforms for advertising the forum, and oversee other important matters. This would also require the support of faculty and staff. The Forum will start conversations among different members of Sophia and influence participants to become more open to new ideas and ways of thinking.


1. Share our ideas with students, professors, and staff members in order to collect feedback on specific matters, such as how to structure the Forum and what themes to include. 2. Define what makes this Forum distinct from other gatherings at Sophia. 3. Contact students, faculty, and staff who might be interested in organizing and/or participating in the Forum, such as those affiliated with SPSF. 4. Organize a group of students who can act as the core facilitators, as well as a group of faculty and staff who are willing to provide their support. 5. Decide what some of the quarterly themes for the Forum could be. 6. Decide whether this Forum will be conducted online or in person (if in person, where?) 7. Invite guest speakers to participate in the Forum. 8. Advertise on social media and the University bulletin boards (including Loyola).

Strategy #3: Innovation Sparker: Design Thinking Intensive Program


From our work with mapping out the opportunities that students at Sophia have to pursue I&E, we noticed that there is a need for more programs and events that focus on fostering innovative and critical thinking to solve real-world problems. For many students, I&E can seem like a complicated and intimidating field, requiring a specific skill set. Our goal, however, is to show students at Sophia that everyone can take advantage of learning how to utilize an innovative mindset and learn important techniques like Design Thinking. Furthermore, the interviews and surveys we conducted revealed that many students have some knowledge about I&E but do not know where they can apply it or evolve their ideas. Based on this, we developed the idea of creating a 3-week long educational program on Design Thinking, followed by a 5-week consulting and creation period. This will provide a space where students can get exposed to Design Thinking, apply their learned knowledge to solve real-life problems, network with industries, and take the first step in becoming a changemaker.


3-Week Online Design Thinking Crash Course --> 5-Week Project Development and Mentoring --> Competition (theme-based)

The 3-week long bilingual (Japanese/English) Design Thinking program would be limited to Sophia University students who will participate in the program and faculty/staff who will teach the basics of Design Thinking. After completing the program, participants will be given the choice to either continue the full program or stop just at the crash course. Those who choose to continue will be introduced to the theme for the competition, and the projects they develop must address and provide solutions for the given problem. During the 5-week project development and creation period, students are free to work with either English or Japanese students to build their projects. Throughout this period, all students will be able to receive mentoring and support from the program facilitators and staff. After completing their projects, participants will face each other in the Innovation Sparker Competition, where external groups may also sign up to join as long as their project fits the theme. This competition would serve as a gateway for university-industry collaborations, as businesses could build networks with potential employees by providing support through monetary means or by becoming judges of the competition. Participants would then pitch their project/solutions to a panel of judges consisting of the following: company managers, guest speakers, professors, students, alumni, and the president. In addition to getting the chance to experience the entire process of bringing an idea into fruition, winners would also receive prize money, recognition from companies and the University, a wider web of networks, the opportunity to get scouted by companies, and/or graduation credits. The curriculum for the program can be seen below:

Curriculum: (1 Quarter = 8 weeks = Length of Summer break)

First Week:

- Design Thinking Introduction: What is its purpose or its effect? Why is it important? Where can it be used or applied?

- Explain the steps to design thinking

Second Week:

- Design Thinking Brainstorming

- Analyze Design Thinking Model Projects and how creators apply their knowledge to solve problems

- Guest Speaker Invitation

Third Week:

- Analysis of the competition theme

- Introduce participants to resources the University provides

- Group brainstorming

End of Base Design Thinking Introduction Program

Fourth-Eighth Week

Group Check-Ins, Prototyping, Testing, Refining, Preparation for competition, Creating presentations and slides

Competition Week


1. Conduct further research to accurately determine the desirability of the program. 2. Consult with Sophia University professors if they would be interested in helping to host the program or becoming guest speakers. 3. Contact several companies interested in partnering up with Sophia University to help support a program like this. Gage their interest in hiring winners of the program and sponsoring some students as well. 4. Propose our idea to Sophia University administration and see if they are willing to support the program financially, publicly, and/or academically (by counting credits towards students’ graduation requirements). 5. Contact UIF fellows to ask if some would like to become guest speakers for the program. 6. Perform trial programs to test out teaching methods and how long to execute a project. 7. Release program and start accepting applicants.

2020 Strategic Priorities

Strategy #1: Central Innovation/Opportunity Hub


Sophia, as one of the represented schools in Japan, has provided opportunities and experiences for students to explore in their student lives. However, this information is often hidden in the school system, the websites, and bulletin boards. Often platforms for communication are filled with daily information such as school notifications and updates. Moreover, some program based opportunities are often communicated verbally by professors who do not show in the school online resources. Therefore, there is a need for students to have a central location where they could easily access this opportunity information to empower themselves and their school life. In other words, there is a need for Sophia university to have a virtual landscape that provides students with the latest programs/events where they can challenge themselves.


This platform requires support from professors, the administration and students. These key roles are crucial users of this hub, and considering ways of implementation is necessary. Not only do we want to communicate information about opportunities that we have, but also take the most efficient process and output to make it into a user-friendly platform. We aim to create a process that can be sustainably managed after we graduate, but also something easy to use for the next generation who will be operating the system.


1. In order to create this central hub, gathering as much information from professors, administrations, and from students/student organization is important. 2. Considering the information gathered, we would prototype a design of the website/platform that we would use for the hub. 3. Create the platform and implement functions for more efficiency of the platform. 4. Create templates and quick steps for those who will be adding information in the platform. 5. Try out the system with the information gathered. 6. Share it with a couple of students and revise the feedback points. 6. Open it to professors and students once updating the latest information. 7. Advertise the platform to the administration to be shared in the orientation for freshmen. 8. Advertise the platform to professors and students in class. 9. Fill in certain opportunities that are lacking or additional functions to adjust the diverse users in Sophia university.

Strategy #2: Pop-Up I&E Workshop


One of the core opportunities we have identified is the aspect of the community as a birthplace for innovation at Sophia University. We have particularly noticed the lack of opportunities for student’s to dive into I&E and the missing point of contact for I&E interested students. Even though there are students who would like to explore their interest in I&E, a central location or platform to take the first bite-size experience is provided. To address this opportunity, we would like to introduce a beginners pop-up I&E workshop for all people in the Sophia ecosystem. This workshop will be a three-hour crash course for participants to experience I&E basics by going through a Design Thinking process. Over one year, we will introduce a framework and guideline for the workshop that can be adopted by future UIF leadership circles and workshop graduates. Our workshops will be open to all people of Sophia, and we will aim for diverse teams in this concept. The workshop participant sizes could vary from 20 to 50 people.


For the pop-up workshops, we will not require significant support from Sophia University staff. Depending on the format, the UIF team will be able to facilitate the workshop entirely by themselves. In case of a physical format, we hope to receive support from the University for well-ventilated rooms on the Sophia campus. Additionally, we would require an innovation toolbox with resources that would need to be restocked regularly after every workshop. We will test out the workshop with various groups (product development students, global studies students and potentially freshmen) before opening doors to the entire Sophia community. For now, we will start with virtual workshops for classroom students and in-person workshops for first-year students, under the supervision of the University administration, which will allow us to adhere to COVID-19 pandemic regulations. For the project to gain momentum, we will also post updates on a social media account to bring students to our workshops in later phases. Key will be to train students in our guidelines so that they can be official workshop facilitators to ensure continuity at Sophia.


1. Prepare a questionnaire to find out student needs for the workshop framework in a virtual and physical setting. Based on questionnaire results develop basic guidelines, that can be adopted by Sophia (approved by Sophia Administration for on-site workshops), 2. Set vital target groups for the Y1 and set pop-workshop amount (present details to University), 3. Set up meetings with target group representatives (e.g. Prof. Maruyama with FGS, Dean Nakano for FLA, Dean Shimomura for FSE), 4. Draft one pop-up workshop guideline for beginners, 5. Create a marketing campaign that proposes this workshop as something accessible and available to all., 6. Use a test group in Horizon to test out workshops before implementation on campus, 7. Start with workshops. Ensure diversity numbers for the workshop., 8. Train students in workshop guidelines

Strategy #3: I&E Project Development Summer Camp


Sophia University is home to many students who are passionate about learning about international cooperation. Many courses offered in Sophia encourage students to explore topics such as poverty, equality, gender and global warming. At the same time, Sophia University has established partnerships with many universities in different areas of the world. It offers students several overseas program opportunities in which the participants take classes which are provided by the local institution focusing on a specific topic. Students who participate in these overseas programs perceive these as opportunities to find new areas of interest. They do so by observing diverse perspectives and talking to people who are at the frontline of their field of study. However, despite the skills and knowledge they gain, many students feel a lack of output from their learnings. One student who cooperated with us in the UIF interviews had enrolled in a 3-week overseas program in Paris, France to study EU environmental law. However, she found it disappointing and wasteful that she was not able to implement her learnings into a real-life after her return. The student believed that her newly acquired knowledge could be utilized to improve environmental policies in Japan. The sense of disappointment is the opportunity we would like to address. Our project is a summer program which takes place in Sophia University to provide students with the platform of outputting the ideas earned in the overseas program.


There are three roles in this program, the organizing committee, the participants and the judge. The program is entirely run by the organizing committee, which consists of students who have participated in overseas programs before. The organizing committee and the judge suggests a topic problem, which the participants will develop solutions for in teams. The solution ideas generated by the participants will be voted in by the judge, and the top 3 solution ideas will be applied to Sophia University campus.


1. Form an initial program planning committee led by UIF fellow members., 2. Research overseas programs offered in Sophia University currently., 3. Interview the participants of the past overseas programs with the following questions. a) What were the new ideas you learned in the program? b) How would you want to apply the original idea in real life? 4. Collect the responses to the questions and research if the application environment respondents wished is offered in Sophia., 5. Invite more students to the program planning committee and brainstorm how the environment provided can be improved and design a program model., 6. Invite professors who will be the judge in the program., 7. Pitch the program model to the office and get an approval., 8. Make an official organizing committee consisting of students who have participated in an overseas program before., 9. Test run of the program model, reflection and adjustment.

Strategy #4: Open Walls For Innovation


Sophia has one of the most internationally diverse and unique students in Tokyo. While the university is well known for its reputation of the humanities departments, when it comes to Innovation & Entrepreneurship, Sophia has been lacking behind other universities in Tokyo. The reason behind it does not necessarily mean the institution hasn't really invested in I&E, but rather that students never had the opportunity to engage with I&E and to actually practice it in order to truly grasp the potential of I&E. Thus, before investing in any innovation labs, I&E boot camps, or I&E courses, students, as well as the institution as one, should work towards dismantling the narrative that I&E is only for the elite few, and work together towards understanding how innovation is for everyone. By introducing the Open Walls For Innovation Week, any open wall on campus becomes an innovative and entrepreneurial place for ideation, conversation, or to simply have fun. The goal is to create an innovative environment where students including the faculty, such as professors, are invited to share everything they have got to share, which they usually cannot do. This is would be extremely powerful since many students in Japan do not have the opportunity to truly engage with each other and to share ideas. Open Walls For Innovation wants to change that.


This project will not require any staff, since the people who will work the most are basically everyone who walks along the walls of Sophia. However, we would require a small team responsible for re-stocking resources of the innovation toolboxes. Since we will start out with a trial, at only one designated place, instead of everywhere, it will be easier to manage and calculate how many post-its, sharpies, and utilities will be used. As for now due to the COVID-19 pandemic students are not allowed to enter the campus, thus, this is the ideal time to plan, manage, and ask for help. In order for the project to gain momentum, we will also establish a social media account, as well as, an online platform for students who cannot come to campus to participate.


1. Conduct two pieces of research: Firstly, to understand whether students would participate and show interest in such a project. Secondly, to find sponsors or funds for the innovation toolboxes. 2. Formalize a Mission and Vision with the collected data 3. Organize a trial run for the project for two to three days to collect feedback and find the ideal locations. 4. Pitch the project to the administration to ask for funds and approval. 5. Create an online presence for the project. 5. Pilot Open Walls For Innovation Week