School of Humanities and Social SciencesWaseda University

About the School

From the Dean

 

The School of Humanities and Social Sciences

From the Dean

Naoko Shimazaki

 Waseda University School of Humanities and Social Sciences was formed in 2007, together with the School of Culture, Media and Society, when the previous School of Letters, Arts and Sciences I and School of Letters, Arts and Sciences II underwent reorganization; however, it has a long history that dates back to the founding of the Department of Literature in 1890. Throughout its existence, the School has consistently provided a learning and education curriculum composed of subjects in the fields of philosophy, literature, and history. The School’s greatest feature lies in its comprehensiveness in humanities. Taking the field of philosophy, the School’s current 18 courses include not only pure “Philosophy” but also fields of learning that have originated out of philosophy in the broader sense (“Psychology,” “Sociology,” and “Education”). In the field of literature, courses include language, literature, and forms of expression in “Japanese Studies,” “Chinese Studies,” “English Studies,” “French Studies,” German Studies” and “Russian Studies,” as well as expressive media in “Theatre and Film Arts,” while in the field of history, courses include “Art History,” “Japanese History,” “Asian History,” “Western History,” and “Archaeology”, as well as “The Middle East and Islam”, which was newly added in 2017. Furthermore,  concerning linguistic education, we offer courses in Spanish, Italian, Korean, and classical languages.

The most effective way to learn such subjects and languages is to start from learning the basics intended for beginners and then to steadily acquire theory and methodology. In the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, students primarily learn fundamental literacy and foreign languages in the first year, and from the second year they advance to courses and study that follows curriculums comprising specialized lectures and drills corresponding to each field of study. This is by the fundamental principle of “know the basics and hone one’s expertise”. Learning in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences begins from “sincerely accepting the accumulation of knowledge.” For that to happen, it is necessary to become free from prejudice and personal opinions. It then becomes possible to examine things with a view to the current age and future developments.

The culmination of learning in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences is the preparation of the graduation thesis, which students start working on from the latter part of their third year. Writing a graduation thesis entails discussing a certain theme while utilizing the theory, methodology, and data in each student’s field of specialty. For many students, this represents the only “scholarly paper” that they will write in their life. I have heard that many graduates look back on their graduation thesis as a major event in their life. Compiling a graduation thesis is not easy, but the process of conducting debates with one’s teachers and classmates during thesis drills is highly stimulating. This process may be described as the essence of learning in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, which entails “profoundly investigating humans and the world, elucidating the essence of language, literature, and expression, and historically studying human society.” Many undergraduate theses are literary gems. Each person’s thesis marks a new outcome of knowledge in their respective field of study. We members of the faculty take great pride in being able to share the joy found in writing a graduation thesis and taking part in mutual stimulation with students.

Learning and research in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences is also a process of “encountering people and society”. This learning leads to the development of absolute trust in people and society, including oneself. It is therefore essential to work toward linking academic knowledge with experience in real society. In many cases, this work is conducted away from the classroom or library, as part of one’s everyday activities and broad-ranging interactions with one’s peers. The School of Culture, Media and Society and the School of Humanities and Social Sciences admit many students every year. The process of learning and thinking that all students follow is assuredly passed on to the next generation of students via numerous avenues on campus.

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