Irish Studies Programme Launched in Japan

Monday, 6 November 2006

06 November 2006: The Irish Studies Online Programme from NUI Galway's Centre for Irish Studies, is set to make its mark in Japan. Thursday last, at a function in Tokyo, His Excellency Brendan Scannell, Irish Ambassador to Japan, formally launched an exciting new development which will allow Japanese students the opportunity to be taught the online diploma in Irish Studies in their own language.

The programme, developed in partnership between NUI Galway and Regis University, Denver, Colorado, provides an introduction to Irish life and culture through the disciplines of Archaeology, History, English, Irish Political Science and Sociology. All of the seminars and group discussions will be in Japanese. NUI Galway's Centre for Irish Studies, which has pioneered the development of online courses in Irish Studies, has appointed two highly qualified Japanese facilitators to teach the programme and provide tuition and guidance to students in Japanese.

The online diploma, the first of its kind in the world, provides an overview of Irish history from the pagan Celtic world and the coming of Christianity, through to the cataclysmic famines of the 1840s, the establishment of an independent state in 1922, and Ireland's integration into the European community that has been ongoing since the 1970s. Students are introduced to Irish literature in both the Irish (Gaelic) and English languages, from the Old-Irish sagas and early Irish lyrics through the emergence of Anglo-Irish literature in the eighteenth century, to the twentieth-century revival of writing in Irish.

Ambassador Scannell described this initiative as further evidence of commitment on the part of the Irish Education sector to consolidate its efforts in Japan. NUI Galway was represented in Tokyo by Prof Ger Hurley, Vice-President for External Affairs, Anna Cunningham, Director of International Affairs and Chinatsu Hakamada, a PhD student at Scoil na Gaeilge. Miss Hakamada addressed the gathering of 150 guests in fluent Irish and English. She has recently been appointed by the Centre for Irish Studies to teach the online programme and provide tuition and guidance to students in Japanese.

Many of the guests at the reception availed of the opportunity to view a demonstration of the online programme. Given that 2007 marks the fiftieth anniversary of diplomatic relations between Ireland and Japan, this is an opportune time to launch such an initiative in Japan.

While students will require a considerable degree of competence in English as most of the learning materials are in English, the online instruction will be provided through the medium of Japanese.

"This is particularly important on an online programme," according to Dr Louis de Paor, Director of the Centre for Irish Studies, "as the level of interaction between students and their teachers online is greater than in traditional on-campus programmes. All of the seminars and group discussions will be in Japanese, as will all interaction between the students and their online tutor, and among the students themselves. This is a very exciting development for us, as it allows us, for the first time, to offer courses in Irish Studies to Japanese students in their own language."

In order to celebrate this new initiative, the Centre for Irish Studies is offering a number of scholarships to the first intake of Japanese students on its online programme.

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