A SILS liberal arts education consists of coursework in an array of disciplines, emphasizing deep and extensive learning. The curriculum is designed to help students develop a multifaceted worldview, logical thinking and analysis skills – and a real-world ability to get things done.
Seven Thematic Clusters and Area Studies Courses
In meeting its objective of developing individuals with an encompassing vision and keen ability for logical thinking, SILS has established courses in seven general thematic clusters, each representing a body of knowledge, and all together encompassing some of the world’s most up-to-date and comprehensive subject matter. If these thematic areas can be considered the vertical axis of SILS coursework, they are intersected by area studies on the horizontal axis. This structure enables students to navigate through their coursework as they see fit – focusing on issues of interest concerning a particular nation, for example, or opting to pursue a broader course of international comparative studies. In any case, the curriculum was developed to extend the learning process beyond mere knowledge acquisition. Instead, the cluster and area study approach emphasizes development of students’ own abilities to consider and analyze issues from multiple perspectives, and to reach their own conclusions.
Seven Thematic Clusters
1. Life, Environment, Matter and Information
Fundamental knowledge of both the environment and information processing is a requisite for life in modern society. The Life, Environment, Matter and Information cluster facilitates this understanding, with courses focused on the physical sciences but also including life sciences, bioethics, environmental science and policy, earth and material science, chemistry, information science and mathematical statistics. All class material is designed to be readily comprehended by both humanities and science students.
2. Philosophy, Religion and History
In the Philosophy, Religion and History cluster, students examine currents of Japanese and world thought. The areas of study – ethics and archaeology in addition to philosophy, religion and history – form the collective basis for understanding the social conditions all over the world. All of these subjects are also deeply intermingled in current world politics, economics, and cultural trends, as well as the continuing evolution of world civilizations. They are bedrock elements of international relations. Thus, by mastering the fundamentals of the topics covered in the Philosophy, Religion and History cluster, students acquire the ability to think more incisively about issues in contemporary society.
3. Economy and Business
SILS Economy and Business cluster courses develop against a richly diverse backdrop, with students from around the globe, representing a wide variety of educational and personal backgrounds. The cluster curriculum is similarly vibrant and inclusive,integrating not only economics and business, but management, finance and accounting into an overarching study of economic and financial policy in , Europe and the . Faculty in the cluster help their charges grasp the necessity for analytical thinking, and encourage them to ask the qualitative why and how questions, not just the conventional “who did what when?” Thanks to this approach, economy and business become an important prism through which students can develop a broader perspective on the world.
4. Governance, Peace, Human Rights and International Relations
This wide-ranging cluster encompasses politics, law, human rights, minority studies, international relations and organizations, and peace studies, among other fields. A grasp of history provides the springboard for examination of numerous contemporary issues. Meanwhile, classroom lectures focus on core concepts, designed to create areas of common understanding for students of diverse backgrounds. Given the nature of the subject matter, studies in Governance, Peace, Human Rights and International Relations do not necessarily lead to the unambiguous, “right-or-wrong” answers that might be expected in other disciplines.However, by developing an orderly, analytical approach to thinking about issues,individual learners in the cluster master strategies to figure out the answers and solutions that work for them.
Since words and language are integral to human communication, students in this cluster learn across a wide variety of fields related to linguistics. The Communication cluster goes beyond simple consideration of spoken language and the interaction between people of different native tongues to areas such as body language and gestures, and automated or human-machine dialogue. To assure that students acquire the basic knowledge that will be relevant to their future work or research, the faculty encourages them to be assertive with their questions and comments, then incorporates the feedback into classroom teaching.
An innovative, interdisciplinary approach to human expression, this cluster holistically links art, theater and performing arts with film, music, literature, media studies and architecture. Courses offered in the Expression cluster are of particular interest and value for students seeking to increase understanding between cultures, as well as for those who plan to pursue a career in journalism, media, publishing, translation or related fields after graduating from SILS.
7. Culture, Mind and Body, and Community
Each of the three component elements in this cluster is a unique area of focused interest in itself. The Culture segment encompasses comparative culture, gender studies, cultural studies, sociology and anthropology. Mind and Body courses include psychology, philosophy, body theory, health and therapy. Meanwhile, the Community component is comprised of urban, area, and community studies, along with courses examining global society and NPO/NGO issues. Students in this cluster are encouraged to take advantage of their educational environment – defined by the cultural and historical diversity of one another’s backgrounds – to develop a multidimensional interpretation of the world around them.