“To understand the field, and learn from the field”
Our motto is “Take interest in everything,” and we go off campus to learn about the developments and future challenges of the global and Japanese economy through seeing the actual situations at companies and in local communities.
The Hirofumi Ueda seminar class is quite new as it started in 2006 when I started teaching at Keio University. The main focus is to study issues surrounding the global economy, Japanese economy, and local economy by looking at the reality faced by companies and industries. Therefore, rather than just reading books in the classroom, we have placed importance on excursions to learn on-site.
In particular, every year third-year students go on a summer study trip for three days and two nights, and I take them to visit companies in a specific region, hear stories from the presidents of those companies, tour around the sites, and consider issues concerning the region and the company. Recently, we have been visiting Hokkaido a lot, for example the Tokachi-Obihiro area, where various food industries have developed based on the local agriculture, and the Niseko and Kutchan areas where many international tourists go during the winter.
Recently, the majority of Keio students seem to come from areas in and around Tokyo, and in many cases, students do not have a clear image of how local companies and industries carry out their economic activities. Because of this, I think the opportunity to travel to a certain region, to get a feel of the local industries and communities, and to hear from business owners serves as a valuable experience.
At Tokachi, which is the region we visited this year, we were able to meet an owner of a specialty ranch, who is promoting the so-called “sixth-sector industrialization” to produce value-added agricultural products, a person who is working on exporting Hokkaido’s agricultural and fishery products to Asia, and a young senior managing director who left a large company to come back to work for his father’s small company and is now developing new tofu products that use quality soy beans produced in Tokachi. We visited these sites, listened to what these people have to say, and held many discussions. Both students and I were deeply inspired by these visits, and needless to say, we were able to learn a lot.
Today, we live in an era in which it is difficult to envision our world ten years or twenty years ahead. Because of that, I want students to learn and experience a variety of things. What can be done within the two years of seminar class studies is quite limited, but I would like my seminar class to offer students something they couldn’t learn or experience anywhere else.
Student's Voices Ikumi Ozaki Third-year student, Faculty of Economics A Productive and Fulfilling Seminar Class
This year, Professor Ueda’s seminar class is in its tenth year, and we analyze actual industries and companies from a multidimensional perspective, based on both studying the literature and fieldwork. Professor Ueda has a wide network of contacts, and therefore while conducting fieldwork, we were able to hear from people that we would never have met without his help. Not only were we able to learn about the realities of their companies but also about their views on life. It was a valuable experience that enabled us to broaden our knowledge. Also, Professor Ueda loves to join our drinking parties and values interaction with his students, so naturally we’ve become more motivated and formed a special attachment to his seminar class. I am having a productive and fulfilling seminar experience with a unique group of classmates.
*This article appeared in the 2016 Winter edition (No.289) of “Juku”. *Position titles, etc., are those at the time of publishing.