Yale University Summer Session Report

  1. Basic Information

Name:Kentaro Matsumura

UTokyo Faculty/Department:Faculty of Law

Title of Summer Program:Yale Summer Session A

  1. Information about your SP

2-1 Other participants (class size, nationalities, home universities, gender


I took two courses and both courses had 8 students. Participants were from Singapore (mostly Yale-NUS College), China, the United States (US citizens and Chinese high-school-students) and also regular Yale students. The number of male students and female students were almost the same.

2-2 My chosen course’s (or courses’) contents, syllabus, schedule of classes

There were two four-hour classes per week per course, which means I had four classes per week.

One of the courses I took was “Balance of Power”, taught by the professor of the department of political science. This course was designed to explore the evolution of the international balance of power since the outset of the twentieth century both analytically and historically. The aim of this course was to have a broad picture of the rise and fall of great powers in the last hundred years as well as of the challenges facing the contemporary United States. Participants were graded by participation in class discussion (20%) and weekly response papers (four sets, in total 80%).

The other course was “American history in national museums”, which was one of the courses in history department. In every classes several articles in “Smithsonian Magazine” online or academic papers were given to us both in classes and in advance, and we discuss our position about those. Their topics were all connected to a certain American historical topic such as Mexican Immigrants and African Americans. We also had a great chance to go study trip to Washington DC in order to engage deeper research in Smithsonian Museums. Participants were graded by participation in class discussion (20%), research direction paper (20%), study trip (20%), presentation of our research topic (20%) and final paper (20%).

Although both courses were not very technical, they were challenging because of the amount of readings and assignments and also sophisticated discussion by participants in class.

2-3 Features of teaching methods (e.g. interactive features, discussions, students’ presentations, or lecture style etc.).

Both courses included discussion followed by a lecture of the topic of the day. Even in a lecture, students were willing to ask questions, so class was always interactive between the professor and students. I enjoyed this kind of atmosphere very much because there are not many courses I take at the University of Tokyo that require participation. Also, the professors often gave feedbacks to my papers or what I said in classes, which was very helpful to improve my understanding and how to effectively construct my arguments.

Both courses definitely fulfilled my expectation. I would recommend this program to my fellow students who want to experience Ivy League university education, or broaden their horizons by discussing with students from all over the world and exploring new different subjects. If I had to say one thing that was below my expectation, it would be that actually, for me, one month is not enough to settle in the high-level academic world or native English speakers’ standards. I wish I could stay there for another month.

2-4 The opportunities for exchange with foreign researchers & students and for establishing my own network of contacts for my future career.

Having been able to get to know professors at Yale University would be helpful in such way that I can contact them if I have questions related to political science or American history or I want to receive advice from them. My network with foreign students would also be very important because they are filled with intellectual curiosity and working very hard toward their interests and some of them have the similar interest to me. I can share information with them and it would be helpful for both them and me in the future.

  1. Study Achievements

3-1 My learning objectives and how I achieved them

The reason why I participated in this program was because I wanted to gain the ability to think and discuss academic subjects in English with competent students from around the world. Yale Summer Session was a good opportunity to embrace myself in the environment where I could put an effort to achieve my objective. Through a lot of readings before class, I could learn how to input and digest important matters efficiently, needless to say the content itself. In class discussion, I could acquire the ability to express my argument persuasively in English and the ability to engage in others’ thoughts, which was quite hard for me as a non-native English speaker. And writing many papers enabled me to learn how to construct my argument logically with academic English.

3-2 Other results of this program

Nothing I have to mention.

  1. Social Aspects

・Accommodation, University environment, safety, medical support, social program/leisure time

Participants were assigned to one of the residential colleges (dormitories) at Yale and I was assigned to Morse College. I had no roommate and six neighbors in the same floor, and I often had meals and hung out with them. Each residential college has a dining hall and a library and other facilities that are necessary for living.

Classrooms were usually 5-15minute walk from the residential college. New Haven is a little bit dangerous town (some students come across robbers), so there were many emergency call boxes around the campus with which students can ask for help in emergency. It is dangerous to walk alone at night. However, if you are careful enough, there would be no occasion when you have to use an emergency call box.

In case of getting sick, Yale Health provides medical treatment. Yale arranged some activities on weekdays and weekends. On weekdays, activities were usually movies, sports and eating events. On weekends, trips to Yankees game, Broadway show, Six Flags (an amusement park) were organized. If you want to refresh and have fun, there are many opportunities arranged by Yale. Also, you can hang out with friends or go on a trip to New York or Boston by yourself, although you have to balance study time and leisure time.

・ My message for the future participants

Yale Summer Session will definitely enable you to experience various things you could not do otherwise. It is a good chance not just to embrace yourself in an academic environment but also to make friends with students from all over the world and have interesting conversations with them. This program is designed to learn a subject that usually takes one semester in a short period of 5 weeks, so it is very condensed and intense. Also, you are required to take two courses, so you have to do a lot of readings and assignments. Though it may sound tough and is actually, you can gain the academic ability and confidence through managing all these works. This summer session is not all about study. If you want to have fun, you can hang out with friends or participate in activities arranged by Yale, which will be an unforgettable memory.

Overall, Yale Summer Session is a perfect opportunity to experience Ivy League education, meet students from different backgrounds, and to achieve your own objectives through these experiences.

[2nd research presentation power point PDF]