Graduate School of Human SciencesWaseda University

About the School

From the Dean

Shoji Nishimura,

Dean of the Graduate School of Human Sciences

 

The Graduate School of Human Sciences was established in 1991. This was four years after the School of Human Sciences was established in 1987, and just as its inaugural class would graduate. The Human Sciences have a comparatively short history, first proposed in 1960s Europe, and touch on multiple academic disciplines. For example, the Human Sciences Institute of Oxford University was established in 1969, focusing primarily on biology, sociology, and cultural anthropology. And even today, there are not many graduate schools focusing on the Human Sciences. Waseda’s Graduate School of Human Sciences, established in 1991 with its relatively short history, is made up of faculty members from a diverse range of studies, and deals with humanity-related issues on various levels. Because of this, we are considered an advanced graduate school that has started to deal with such challenges through new fields of study in the Human Sciences.

I am often asked for specifics on what the Human Sciences cover, and what type of learning and research takes place at the Graduate School of Human Sciences. More conventional fields of study, which have already been organized from long ago, have an academic framework or structure that is routinely followed. Yet the Human Sciences do not always follow such a clearcut framework at this time. Our Graduate School of Human Sciences focuses on the deep, profound existence of humanity, and as the names of our Graduate and Undergraduate Schools indicate, it is composed of faculty specializing in diverse areas of research. There are various ways of thinking and approaches included in these areas of research, so there is no single way to effectively answer such questions.
Needless to say, each member of faculty working at our graduate school specializes in their own specific field of study. However, to say that they simply belong to the same graduate school would be nothing more than a gathering of faculty. What we are attempting to do at the Graduate School of Human Sciences is to actively promote its interdisciplinary nature as a strength, which I believe is a major advantage when carrying out research. When I look back on my academic history, I started out researching robot development in the field of engineering during my undergraduate and graduate years. The thrust of my research was to develop robots with the form and functionality of humans, to support the human race in its endeavors. As a part of the process, I came to realize that it is vital to thoroughly understand the humans they are being modeled after, because without this understanding it is quite difficult to advance to new heights. The human intellect will continue to progress as we study engineering itself, while also shedding light on human mechanisms.  By no means do I intend to deny the importance of engineering. On the other hand, I want to be clear on the necessity and inevitability of the human sciences at the same time. I feel it is important to further shed light on the motor and sensory functions of humans, and to develop new ways of thinking about artificial systems which are based on that knowledge.

For example, in my own experience, I was able to go beyond the framework of technology-related creations, and delve into the human-related fields of physiology and psychology. Additionally I found that the issues within relationships between self, family, and society cannot be ignored. Although it is necessary to specialize in something in order to establish your identity as a researcher, my hope for young graduate students is that, instead of being content in a narrow field of specialization, they will be able to focus on issues from a comprehensive, multifaceted perspective, always aiming for improvement. Instead of being intimidated by the size of their goals, I want them to choose an environment that allows them to become familiar with a diverse range of fields, and I want them to have the courage to realize how much is lacking in a single, narrow field of specialization. I believe a major strength of the Graduate School of Human Sciences, is that it provides a venue were you can always search for new ways of thinking, and new theories on the various related fields, then continue to modify them to more closely relate to you in an interdisciplinary way. I truly wish for our students to experience this type of dynamism firsthand, so that each and every one of them can broaden their horizons as they embark into new frontiers.

As long as we are accepting and developing future talent, I feel the Graduate School of Human Sciences is responsible for including these principles in the curriculum, and deciding on how to implement them. We have taken great pains to include these ideals in the new curriculum, which was implemented in 2013. And we are constantly thinking of ways to further improve the curriculum. Our mid-to-long term plans for this school are to further expand its presence in the world as an educational and research institute. And as a part of these plans, we will continue to develop our Graduate School of Human Sciences, as a research institute that can offer a diverse range of approaches to solve the multifaceted problems which people face in modern society.

I hope we can receive your support and understanding regarding the education and research at our Graduate School of Human Sciences, and we welcome the active participation of those who will lead the next generation, and empathize with our efforts.

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