Projects / Initiatives

Taught in English, this dual-degree program – the Bachelor of Asia Pacific Affairs by the Australian National University (ANU) and the Bachelor of Global Liberal Arts by Ritsumeikan University (RU) – will provide students with the unique opportunity to study in Australia and Japan and graduate with two degrees from two universities.

At ANU, students will be provided an in-depth understanding of regional affairs of the Asia and the Pacific including politics and government, international relations and security, conflict and peacebuilding, history and cultural identity.

At RU, students will further develop skills to identify and solve problems related to the region through an innovative curriculum of liberal arts, which includes cultural studies, historical studies, science and technology studies, and business administration.

RU students

In February 2019, the Bell School welcomed its first students into the Bachelor of Asia Pacific Affairs. These students have now spent their first year at ANU beginning to learn about the Asia Pacific. Many are studying Japanese.

Our first cohort of ANU students come from different parts of Australia - Queensland, Tasmania, Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra. Most of the students have visited Japan before and were excited by this unique opportunity to get to know the country (and the region) better and to advance their Japanese language skills.

April 2019 marked the beginning of the semester for 14 students from Japan, South Korea and China commencing the Bachelor of Global Liberal Arts program at Ritsumeikan University.

The ANU program convenor for the new dual degree, Dr Christopher Hobson, is delighted to be back with the Bell School where he completed his PhD from the Department of International Relations in 2009. He will be based in Japan.

Our School Director, Professor Toni Erskine, along with our Deputy Director (Education) Associate Professor Bina D’Costa, visited Japan to attend the inauguration ceremony where they presented students commencing in Japan with their official ANU offer letters.

In September 2019, with the start of the second semester, RU welcomed 43 new students from Indonesia, Mongolia, Switzerland, Cambodia, Thailand, Canada, China, South Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan and the USA.

This dual-degree partnership with Ritsumeikan, one of the oldest and most respected private universities in Japan, with campuses in Kyoto and Osaka, will welcome up to 100 students per year who will spend time at both universities during the course of their four years of study.


It’s a great honour for Ritsumeikan University to work with The Australian National University (ANU) to build a bridge between Australia and Japan and establish a global standard of quality education. Higher education is tremendously significant in today’s globalised world, and we strive to provide the highest quality of education. The partnership with ANU is not just a dual-university program, each of the two universities are representing their country in higher education.

         – Professor Tsutomo Kanayama
         Dean, College of Global Liberal Arts, RU

This program represents an important step for the Coral Bell School and our ANU College of Asia and the Pacific. Through this program, together with Ritsumeikan University, we are offering a model for how universities can innovate and cooperate in exciting ways, and in doing so, create a context for strengthening ties within and beyond this region.

We are living in a time of daunting global challenges. These challenges include the spread of nuclear weapons, what the World Wildlife Fund has aptly called ‘climate chaos’, and the likely profound impact of emerging technologies, such as AI, which we don’t yet understand. We need to work together to address these challenges. Yet, at the same time, there is a tendency in many parts of the world today to look inward, to move away from multilateral alliances and cooperative unions, to build walls and fortify borders. This is deeply worrying. In the face of this, it is increasingly important to build awareness, understanding, and engagement between people and between political communities. It is precisely programs like this that contribute to this goal.

         – Professor Toni Erskine
         Director, Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs, ANU




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Professor Toni Erskine, Director of the Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs (centre); Professor Brian Schmidt, ANU Vice-Chancellor; Bruce Miller, former Ambassador of Australia to Japan; Professor Tsutomu  Kanayama, Dean of the RU College of Global Liberal Arts, at a special ceremony in Oct 2019 to welcome all the students that commenced at Ritsumeikan University in the dual-degree program.