Initiating food-related sustainability on campus, I was able to connect my research to hands-on activities.

Fourth-year Global Studies Major / International Student from Germany

We interviewed MUENSTER Anna Lena, a fourth-year Global Studies major student who was awarded the Saionji Memorial Scholarship, about her college life at Ritsumeikan University.

What motivated you to apply to the College of International Relations at Ritsumeikan University, and what did you want to learn in International Relations before enrollment?

AnnaInternational Relations is a broad field, and the College of International Relations at Ritsumeikan University has a diverse student body and staff. These characteristics bring the possibility of studying global issues, such as environmental issues and climate change in my case, from different perspectives and through various fields, such as economics, law, or policy. One aspect that motivated me to apply to the College of International Relations is that its program can help me apply and further develop an interdisciplinary approach to global topics. While studying in high school I have always questioned learning limited by field-based borders and hoped for a more multi-disciplinary approach towards solving issues at hand. In addition, I was hoping to gain academic skills such as critical and analytical thinking.

What attracts you to study Global Studies?

AnnaBefore enrollment I did not have much background knowledge regarding the field of International Relations, as I came from a background in (environmental) sciences, mostly physics, which I also studied at a university in Germany for a few semesters. I was, however, already interested in global issues, environmental issues and sustainability in particular, but not sure what exact topic I would want to focus on for my thesis and individual research. Through the variety of classes in my Global Studies major, I was able to try different approaches, such as analyzing subsidies for food and their connection to sustainable consumption in an economics class or focusing on how Sustainable Development Goals affect food businesses in Japan in another class. Applying different approaches and researching various topics over the course of my undergraduate studies helped me narrow my field of interest for thesis research, and at the same time explore connections between different fields and topics.

Please tell us the most fulfilling activity you participated in, and the most memorable experience while at Ristumeikan University, Japan.

AnnaIn addition to classes, extracurricular activities at Ritsumeikan are diverse, and there are many possibilities to participate on campus. Knowing that I want to make the most out of my student life at Ritsumeikan, I informed myself of the available options early on. I have been active so far as a student library staff at Ritsumeikan’s library, a peer supporter for the Student Success Program (SSP), a project team and management staff at the Beyond Borders Plaza (BBP), a writing tutor for the College of International Relations, and in other smaller activity roles. Through these kinds of opportunities, it is possible for everyone to be actively involved in the development of campus life in some way. You can challenge yourself while being able to help others!

AnnaWhile all activities and the experiences helped me learn and grow as a person, the most fulfilling aspect of campus life for me was the possibility to also get involved in sustainability initiatives. Due to my interest in food-related sustainability, I joined and am now a representative of the student group LiNK, a group aiming to create a plant-based menu in Ritsumeikan’s cafeteria in collaboration with the Co-op. Later, I also started creating plant-based sweets (plantbaked), focusing on sustainability as well diversity and inclusion, which are now sold in the cafeteria during specific period every semester. Through these activities I was able to connect my research to hands-on activities.

Please tell us about your career intentions after graduation and what made you pursue such a career path.

AnnaAfter graduating from the college of International Relations, I am planning to enroll in graduate school to continue research on global issues, especially environmental issues and sustainability in a global context, focusing more on environmental policy.

As my current thesis research is focused on how activities towards more sustainable food options are developing on campuses of Japanese universities, I am eager to learn and research more about policies related to food and sustainability during my graduate studies. This will help me to further broaden my view regarding the role that food plays in climate change as a global issue.

Any messages from you to the students from overseas who are looking at the College of International Relation, Ritsumeikan University?

AnnaIt might be difficult to decide on your future path now. It is easy to overthink your decision, but no matter which path you choose, it will bring you a future you can make the most of! If you are interested, try applying to the College of International Relations and see where it takes you!

March 2024