From you to Waseda, from Waseda to you
Waseda University has a 120-year-long tradition of research in the humanities rooted in research on Shakespeare by Dr. Tsubouchi Shoyo. This tradition has extended within the School of Humanities and Social Sciences which is deepening research in the human sciences and the School of Culture, Media and Society which is creating new fields and anticipating the future. The Graduate School, which furthers the special fields of both schools, provides full-scale specialty curriculum aimed at actively promoting the acquisition of the doctoral degree. As the Faculty of Letters, Arts and Sciences, in which the traditional and progressive spirit literally coexist, we provide a setting that brings new possibilities into being.
The Faculty of Letters, Arts and Sciences has produced an extraordinary variety of talented people. It has long adopted liberalism, non-affiliation, independence of scholarship, and a progressive spirit and respected a tradition of bringing together outstanding people from throughout Japan, allowing their individual characters to challenge one another as they apply themselves to study. As a result, a large number of highly talented people have launched into various fields of activity. In the open ethos of the Faculty of Letters, Arts and Sciences, we have stressed research on and respect of different cultures and the societies and traditions of heterogeneous peoples. Through personal interchange and efforts to promote mutual understanding with the countries of the West and Asia, we have established academic affiliations with overseas institutions. In the years to come, within the rapidly globalizing community, the young people who have studied enthusiastically at the Faculty of Letters, Arts and Sciences will undoubtedly play pivotal roles in the future of the world.
The Faculty of Letters, Arts and Sciences
From the Senior Dean
Waseda University’s Faculty of Letters, Arts and Sciences is a repository of humanities knowledge located across the Toyama Campus. Dating back to the Department of Literature founded by Dr. Tsubouchi Shoyo in 1890, the Faculty celebrated its 130th anniversary in 2020.
Following a series of reforms that started in 2004, the Faculty was reorganized into an integrated setup comprising the School of Culture, Media and Society; the School of Humanities and Social Sciences; the Graduate School of Letters, Arts and Sciences; and the Research Institute for Letters, Arts and Sciences, providing a home for the efforts of more than 7,500 undergraduate and postgraduate students and faculty members. Having already produced a multitude of graduates and researchers, the Faculty is a core organization in humanities education and research in Japan.
I would like to use this space to introduce four of the most appealing points of the Faculty of Letters, Arts and Sciences as a place of learning. The first is Toyama Campus itself. Comprising a group of buildings situated around an inner courtyard and a slope lined with large metasequoia trees, the campus was completed in 1962. In the time since then, the appearance of the campus has understandably been transformed. Following transitions in faculty organization, work advanced over an extended period on the construction of new buildings and facilities. In 2019, Waseda Arena was completed, providing sports facilities and a venue for ceremonies on the basement and above-ground floors, all situated amid the verdant surroundings of Toyama-no-Oka hill. Thanks to this environment, today Toyama Campus does not feel like an inner-city university. Another aspect of its appeal is its geographical proximity to the internationally renowned urban center of Shinjuku and its many cultural facilities. The campus and facilities thus offer a learning environment situated in a leading cultural center.
My second point is that, based on this campus, our Faculty allows students to learn and research humanities both widely and deeply. Students can study in six theoretical configurations in the School of Culture, Media and Society, and 18 courses in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences; moreover, subjects that bridge both Schools are configured so that students can strategically conduct structured and cross-disciplinary studies, alongside creative and practical learning. Besides, students can utilize 22 courses provided by the Graduate School (master’s course and doctoral course), providing a gateway to more specialized research. Toyama Library is another important facility providing a place for daily learning.
Of course, the humanities cover a wide scope and are constantly evolving. As may be gathered from the curriculums in both Schools, my third point about the Faculty of Letters, Arts and Sciences lies in its increasingly international development of target fields and areas in addition to academic fields (i.e. founding perspectives and theories). In 2017, it established the School of Culture, Media and Society and the Global Studies in Japanese Cultures Program (JCulP), allowing it to widely accept students as an international center of Japanese studies. Furthermore, the targets of learning and research have been expanded to include not only Western areas and East Asia but also the Islamic cultural sphere; since 2017 it has become an important domestic institution for learning and studying Middle Eastern and Islamic culture at both the undergraduate and postgraduate levels.
Students do not split into theoretical streams or courses in the first year. When they advance to the second year, they can make full use of the selective 1-3 system to maximize opportunities for learning and research. During the compulsory basic drill class that is conducted in both departments in the first year, students acquire the basic literacy skills required for learning the humanities. Students can surely sense the wealth of human resources in the Faculty of Letters, Arts and Sciences from the teaching materials, faculty members, and classmates they encounter during this time. Which brings me to my fourth and most significant point: a Faculty is a place where members of different nationalities, birthplaces, genders, ages, and interests gather and stimulate each other.
The learning and research of humanities can be summed up as simply “understanding human behavior,” or “listening to the voices of people who came before, those who live now, and those who will come in the future.” This may not constitute a so-called “practical science” that links directly to the acquisition of specific qualifications. However, in this age of information technology, it is more essential than ever. As IT has developed rapidly from the latter part of the 20th century, and become considered an “essential” tool in our daily lives, it has created the very world into which you, our students, have been born and raised. A critical issue that faces our society today is how we should use this tool. What kind of ethics should we build, and how should we share them? The questions raised by social networking are not only questions of the network technologies; they are social questions. Unless we can accurately understand the wisdom, experiences, and also mistakes of people in past eras we cannot confront this challenge in the present. If we do not understand the multilayered facets of modern-day society, we cannot shape a better tomorrow. It is the study of the humanities that will help us with this kind of thought experimentation, based as it is on the close observation of humans and society in the past and the present, with an eye to the future.
In closing, our society and the entire world have undergone massive upheavals in 2020 due to the spread of, and measures to address, COVID-19. In the Faculty of Letters, Arts and Sciences, we too have been forced to conduct almost all learning and research online. It is a serious state of affairs that nobody could have foreseen, but at the same time it allows us to face up to this challenge by drawing on our experience and “listening to our own voices as human behavior”. I hope that we can overcome this hardship and once again interact with each other, while giving top priority to protecting the lives and health of all, including students, faculty, and workers. I also look forward to further renewing our approaches to learning and investigation in the Faculty of Letters, Arts and Sciences together with you all.
Senior Dean & Deputy Dean
*From left side
Professor KONO Kimiko ： Director of Research Institute for Letters, Arts and Sciences
Professor SHIMAZAKI Naoko ：Senior Dean of the Faculty of Letters, Arts and Sciences ＆ Dean of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences
Professor YANAGISAWA Akira ：Dean of the School of Culture, Media and Society
Professor MATSUNAGA Miho ：Deputy Dean for International Affairs & Dean of Graduate School of Letters, Arts and Sciences