25 June 2018

Higher education and the principles of the UN Charter: A view from J. F. Oberlin University

The United Nations Academic Impact (UNAI) celebrates the seventy-third anniversary of the signing of the United Nations Charter, which took place on 26 June 1945, by sharing this article submitted by UNAI member institution and Global Hub for the United Nations Charter, J. F. Oberlin University (Japan). This article was submitted by Yoshiro Tanaka, Professor of Comparative and International Higher Education as well as Provost and Executive Vice President of J. F. Oberlin University, Tokyo (Japan)


25 June 2018 - J. F. Oberlin University (Japan) serves as the Global Hub of the United Nations Academic Impact (UNAI) in support of the commitment to the principles inherent in the United Nations Charter. As Global Hub, the University strives to spread the spirit of the United Nations Charter through higher educational institutions around the world and act as a “globally minded" university that contributes to bettering the world through education. One indication of this aim appeared in the University's 2014 publication of Pathways to Peacea textbook on disarmament that includes interviews with three Nobel Peace Prize laureates: Joseph Rotblat, Bernard Lown and Jody Williams and was conceived by the University as a commitment to the goal of peace enshrined in the United Nations Charter. 

J. F. Oberlin University approaches its work as a UNAI Global Hub for promoting the relationship between the principles of the United Nations Charter and higher education on the presumption that successfully navigating our changing and complicated times requires global cooperation and co-existence. It also means addressing growing social needs for lifelong learning, including professional workers' education. At the same time, science and research, as driving forces behind development, are advancing at such a rapid rate that interdisciplinary and wide-ranging research is needed more than ever. To keep pace, higher education must change dramatically. A profound restructuring of "intelligence" in institutions of higher education needs to occur that better integrates knowledge, skills and competencies.

A global vision is quite essential for the future. For higher education to successfully embrace the global view of the academic community that derives from the United Nations Charter, it must break down outdated forms of isolation and foster genuine collaboration of students, researchers and institutions that overcomes restrictions of national boundaries. By doing so, higher education will adapt itself to prepare students to be successful in workforces that already have begun transcend national boundaries. It will enable students to perform successfully in the dynamic, open-ended and less-defined workplace environments that now abound. This will also mean taking account of the current framework as one in which problems as well as solutions diffuse more quickly than ever.

In the twenty-first century, colleges and universities worldwide are re-evaluating their goals and objectives. In many regards, higher education is still faced with maintaining conservative values while having to adapt itself to deal with the new circumstances of globalization. Seventy-three years later, however, the principles of the United Nations Charter remain valid and can serve as a guide for such institutions to continue generating and pursuing the energetic ideas that are so needed today. To that end, J. F. Oberlin University is dedicated to including its students in activities and initiatives that support the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Each individual has a personal and moral obligation to make change possible. The future can be better than the past. As Alan Kay said: "The best way to predict the future is to invent it". We believe this to be so.