Educational Mission


RIJS has increased Japan-related offerings in the curriculum in a number of ways. Primary has been the establishment of six tenured professorships and two junior professorships. In addition, from 1998-2010 the Institute’s Curriculum Enrichment Grant Program supported the creation of 13 new Core/General Education courses on Japan and augmentation of 7 existing courses taught by FAS faculty who were not Japan specialists but brought the study of Japan into their courses. Typically there are more than 60 courses a year offered at Harvard with Japan-related content, in General Education, Anthropology, East Asian Languages and Civilizations, Government, History, History of Art and Architecture, History of Science, Religion, Sociology, Social Studies, and Visual and Environmental Studies within the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, as well as at the Harvard Summer School (HSS/Kyoto and others), Harvard Law School, Graduate School of Design, and Harvard Extension School.

Additional Support for the Curriculum

The Institute encourages faculty and departments to invite outstanding scholars or others with a specialized knowledge of Japan to appear in classes and meet with students and faculty in order to enhance the educational experience in their particular field. RIJS also plays an active role in sponsoring activities outside the classroom that link art forms associated with Japanese popular culture, such as film, kabuki, martial arts, anime, and many others, to the educational curriculum.

Programs for Harvard Undergraduates

Since 1980, RIJS has supported more than 1200 Harvard College students to travel to Japan for research, language study, intercultural exchange, classes, conferences, as well as summer internships at a number of institutions and business organizations in Japan.

In 2005, RIJS expanded its summer internship program to include a broader circle of Harvard undergraduates, including those pursuing science concentrations, by offering placements to those with little or no prior training in the Japanese language. This initiative reflects the University’s mandate to provide every college student with a “significant international experience.” The following year saw a four-fold increase in the number of undergraduates traveling to Japan. The number of internships has continued at a high level with a concomitant growth in the number of host institutions, broadening the networks between Japan and Harvard.

Summer opportunities were further augmented in 2007 when RIJS collaborated with the Harvard Summer School to create Harvard Summer School/Japan, a credit-bearing program that offers social science and humanities courses at Doshisha University and science courses RIKEN Brain Science Institute (BSI) and RIKEN Center for Integrative Medical Sciences (IMS).

On campus, a variety of undergraduate student groups, such as the Japan-America Student Conference (JASC), Harvard Project for Asian and International Relations (HPAIR), Harvard-Radcliffe Kendo Club, and the Harvard Asia-Pacific Review receive Institute support, and each year RIJS conducts a competition for the Noma-Reischauer Essay Prize for the best student essay on a Japan-related topic.

Programs for Graduate Students

The Institute’s support for graduate student training began even before its formal establishment (when the Japan Institute resided within the then-named Fairbank Center for East Asian Research). Since 1970, RIJS funds have provided more than 1500 individual grants for graduate student research, language study, tuition support, and professional development. Summer grants support research and language study, and term-time grants support supplementary dissertation research and dissertation completion. RIJS also provides for graduate student travel to professional conferences and supports Japan-related organizations and study groups on campus.