Harnessing Cultural Capital During My Undergraduate Education

Stemming from my upbringing abroad, I knew that English was an indispensable tool for the dissemination of knowledge. This encouraged me to pursue my undergraduate education at an institution in Japan that offered an “English as a Medium of Instruction” (EMI) program.9 In Japan, English is viewed as a “global” language, and it “is often seen as a resource that can contribute to personal, social and economic development in a range of diverse contexts.... Due to these associations, the learning of English in many contexts is viewed as a means of increasing one’s social and cultural capital” (Erling and Seargeant 2011, p. 2).10 Within this environment, I had a strong interest in enhancing myself by acquiring high-level English ability as a form of cultural capital, and the prospect of working in academia in the future further motivated me to acquire academic skills in and through English.11 My improved English proficiency gave me access to a wider variety of resources and also allowed me to disseminate my findings to a larger audience via presentation and publication. Further, it enabled me not only to obtain a PhD degree but also to actively attend international academic conferences and engage in teaching activities in the United Kingdom. Moreover, the ways in which I approach my research and teaching were largely influenced by the liberal arts education I received during my undergraduate and graduate studies. This is where I first acquired not only my knowledge of political science and sociology/anthropology, which I majored in, but also other academic disciplines, including literature and art history, which broadened my perspective and my approach to research and encouraged me to continue researching politics and IR in an interdisciplinary manner.

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