About ILAS


Tohoku University established the Institute of Liberal Arts and Sciences in 2008. This is intended to provide a broad and advanced liberal arts education by having older professors with experience in undergraduate and graduate education and research re-engage in General Education. Furthermore, several faculty members with a strong passion for liberal arts education and excellent teaching skills, selected from all faculties, began to serve concurrently in 2010, thereby enhancing liberal arts education from a broader perspective.


President Hideo Ohno, who assumed office in April 2008, has set the goal of “creating the cutting edge and taking on the challenge of great change” and summarized the challenges that Tohoku University must tackle in the “Tohoku University Vision 2030”. In terms of education, the goal is to “nurture leaders who will powerfully lead society in the era of great change from a global perspective”. Leaders who take on today’s diverse and increasingly complex issues are required to have solid judgment based on a rich culture and deep expertise. Liberal arts education at universities has an important role to play in providing opportunities to experience diverse ways of seeing things and to learn ways of integrated knowledge. Therefore, we must continually seek what, when, and how to teach. The Institute of Liberal Arts and Sciences creates classes for first-year students to motivate them to learn through a variety of creative ideas and also plays a leading role in enhancing liberal arts education for upper-year students and graduate students.



The Institute of Liberal Arts and Sciences consists of the President-appointed Extraordinary Professors and Special Professors in the Liberal Arts. The assignments for both are as follows.


President-appointed Extraordinary Professors

The President appoints faculty members from among professors who have retired from the University at the mandatory retirement age, who have outstanding educational and research achievements, and excellent teaching abilities suitable for liberal arts education. With their wide range of knowledge and creative research experience, they invite each student into the world of learning and research by telling students directly about the fascination and thrill of academics and research.


Special Professors in the Liberal Arts

Faculty members with a strong passion and excellent teaching ability in liberal arts education are directly appointed by the President as faculty members to teach general education courses with concurrent appointments at the Institute of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Their main task is to revitalize liberal arts education through a variety of creative efforts.


In the “Inoue Plan 2007” of March 2007, the following five items were set forth for education. 1) Enhancement of liberal arts education as the foundation of university education 2) Enhancement of specialized education and graduate school education to create knowledge 3) Development of a new educational system 4) Improvement of student support system 5) Developing admissions strategies to attract motivated students to take the exam.


In 2008, as one of the means to accomplish these goals, retired professors with broad knowledge and deep research experience were appointed as President-appointed Extraordinary Professors (liberal arts education). As a research-oriented university, the Institute of Liberal Arts and Sciences was newly established to provide liberal arts education for first-year students as well as graduate students. In 2010, a new system of Special Professors in the Liberal Arts education started, in which faculty members in charge of liberal arts education concurrently serve in the Institute of Liberal Arts and Sciences.


①Seminar on Each Discipline for Academic Learning
A new General Education program started in 2022. Cross-faculty small-group course “Introduction to Academic Learning,” is provided to all first-year students, and is followed by “Seminar on Each Discipline for Academic Learning,” offered by the faculty members of the ILAS. “What is required for you to do your research?” “What is the first thing you have to do when you begin your university career?” For such questions, we communicate closely with students and help them to come up with their answers through group research and investigation, library and Internet information gathering, site visits, report writing, presentations, and discussions.
②Foundations (Humanities, Social Science, Natural Science, Interdisciplinary Subjects)
We are each in charge of courses in our areas of expertise, and we are making various attempts to activate our classes and promote liberal arts education.
③New Initiatives in Advanced Subjects (Frontier Subjects, Current Topics Subjects)
We are in charge of two General Education courses, mainly offered to first and second-year students: Frontier Subjects, which aims to explore new areas of leading-edge themes, and Current Topics Subjects, which aims to grasp the new trends of our time. Our goal is to promote liberal arts education that addresses contemporary issues and fosters personal development.
④Expansion of Liberal Arts Education to Graduate Schools in Common Graduate School Subjects and Cross-disciplinary Research Subjects
Beginning in 2023, courses from graduate schools, Degree Programs, and the IEHE that meet the objectives of the Common Graduate School Subjects/Cross-Graduate School Subjects will be reviewed and implemented by the Common Graduate School Subjects Committee of the Academic Affairs Council. Advanced liberal arts education will be offered through graduate school, and the ILAS will play an appropriate role.
⑤Cultivating a Better Understanding of Liberal Arts Education
Each year we organize seminars and joint lectures on liberal arts education, where faculty and students discuss what liberal arts education is all about. These events provide opportunities for students to understand the importance of developing their intellect through liberal arts education. And also provide opportunities for faculty members to reflect on and deepen their liberal arts education. From 2021, the “President-appointed Extraordinary Professor Joint Lecture” has been renamed the “ILAS Colloquium” to introduce the research efforts of the young faculty members. Note that beginning in 2023, they will also be utilized in one of the “Introduction to Academic Learning” sessions.

⑥Publication of the “Artes Liberales et Universitas” Series
The results taken up in special seminars and joint lectures have been re-edited into a collection of thematic papers with more in-depth discussions and perspectives. And including a collection of articles from new approaches, we are publishing a series of books to enhance liberal arts education.


⑦Publication of a Brochure “Dokusho-no-Nenrin”
Every year we publish ‘Rings of Reading: Guide to Research and Lecture,’ which serves as a guidebook for first-year students as they begin their “university studies”. This booklet is a collection of six books selected by each of the President-appointed Extraordinary Professors of the ILAS, based on their own experiences in teaching and research activities, to introduce the contents of these books, which are useful for learning and living at the university.


⑧Suggestions for Improvement of Liberal Arts Education
At the Round Table Meetings organized by the ILAS Director, the faculty members express their opinions based on their practices in liberal arts education to the Director and the President and contribute to the reform of liberal arts education at Tohoku University.

book Dokusho-no-Nenrin