Spread across an area of more than 330,500 m2 (about the size of seven Tokyo Domes), SFC is home to more than 6,000 students with three undergraduate faculties, two graduate schools, and the Keio Shonan Fujisawa Junior and Senior High School. In the rapidly changing landscape of the late 20th century, it was designed to be a place for education and research that could respond to the demands of a new era. SFC inherits the pioneering spirit of Keio University, which has always been a leader ahead of the times since its founding in 1858, amidst the turmoil that arose in the death throes of a waning Tokugawa Shogunate.
The new SFC campus was designed by architect Fumihiko Maki, a Keio alumnus and then-professor at the University of Tokyo. Professor Hiroshi Kato, the first dean of the Faculty of Policy Management, requested that Maki incorporate Buddhist architecture in a nod to the origins of Japanese schools, which were first housed inside Buddhist temples. Maki transformed the campus into an innovative space, fusing this temple style with traditional elements from Greek architecture.
The Faculty of Policy Management and Faculty of Environment and Information Studies at SFC were established in April 1990 to become environments for open interdisciplinary research and education, unimpeded by existing academic disciplines. Both faculties take a problem-solving approach to education that encourages students to pose and solve problems independently, becoming successful examples of reform that other Japanese universities would soon follow.
SFC also reviewed the entrance examination process. It was the first university in Japan to introduce the "admissions office" (AO) entrance exam, a holistic evaluation method that combines a written application with an oral interview to assess an applicant’s intellectual curiosity and awareness. In addition, it embraced September admissions from the very beginning, bringing academic terms on par with many institutions abroad and allowing for better opportunities for student exchange.
Since its founding, SFC has been connected by its Campus Network System (CNS), a central network for all students and faculty members, each of whom received an e-mail address. Before "the internet" was a household phrase, students were making full use of it in their studies, many going on to contribute to the IT revolution that followed.
SFC was also known as Keio's "24-hour campus." Students were allowed to study on campus at all hours, and it wasn't uncommon to see faculty members teaching or students engaging in group work late into the night. Additionally, SFC's "office hours" system gave students an easy way to get in touch with faculty members. Student course evaluations were also a revolutionary concept in Japan at the time. These are just some examples of how faculty members and students toiled to create a new kind of university campus.
Another SFC tradition is the value that it places on its connection to the community. Every year, SFC's summer and fall festivals attract droves of local residents, with students lighting up the night sky with their spectacular fireworks displays, which have become well known in the area.
In 2001, a third faculty, the Faculty of Nursing and Medical Care, was established. Built on a long and distinguished history of nursing education at Keio University, the faculty conducts research and education that transcends the boundaries of health, medicine, and welfare to prepare advanced medical and nursing professionals before they enter the workforce.
The GIGA Program is a relatively new program at SFC to provide even newer and more varied ways to learn at the Faculty of Policy Management and the Faculty of Environment and Information Studies. Not only do programs like GIGA allow students to spend their undergraduate career entirely in English, but SFC also offers a three-and-half-year undergraduate program for students as well as a joint undergraduate/graduate program in which students can earn their master's degree in just four years.
In 2007, Miraisozojuku (Institute for Designing the Future) was launched as a project to build a residential education and research facility that practices the Keio spirit of hangaku hankyo (lit. "learning while teaching, teaching while learning"), a founding principle that encourages students and faculty members to live and learn together and from each other. The new β (Beta) Village, which features innovative facilities where residents will live and conduct research together, was completed in the summer of 2020 and awaits full-scale operation.
Access to SFC is also about to improve. Travel times to and from Mita and Hiyoshi Campus will decrease significantly in late 2022 thanks to the opening of a new jointly operated Sotetsu Tokyu Link Line. A station near SFC is also expected to be built as part of the planned extension of the Sotetsu Izumino Line.
SFC continues to evolve ahead of trends in society and technological innovation. Its spirit of envisioning a brighter future shines now more than ever amid such a chaotic time in the world and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
*This article originally appeared in Stained Glass in the 2020 autumn edition (No. 308) of Juku.