Professor JINNO Hidenori
Waseda University established the Research Institute for Letters, Arts and Sciences in April 2012. From the first, we have referred to this organization as “Jin-Bun-Ken” or “RILAS.”
While RILAS is still a young organization, ever since the 1890 establishment of the Department of Literature at the predecessor to Waseda University, the Tokyo Senmon Gakko (Tokyo College), the humanities have been passed down and many researchers have graduated from this discipline at Waseda. Research activities in the diverse specialist fields of humanities have actually been supported by the respective specialty-based academic societies established at the secretariat of the Faculty of Letters, Arts and Sciences. Collaborating especially with the courses (former majors) of the Graduate School of Letters, Arts and Sciences, these societies have served to pass on our stock of learning in the traditional disciplines of philosophy, literature, and history, and provide a suitable setting for the training of the next generation of researchers. Needless to say, it remains essential to further develop research in these specialized fields.
Meanwhile, particularly since the turn of this century, there is growing awareness of the need to laterally organize the respective specialist fields, and to create new branches of humanities study that correspond to new social conditions. It can certainly be said that RILAS is an organization that concretely addresses such needs.
All full-time teachers (including specially appointed teachers and assistant professors) affiliated with the Faculty of Letters, Arts and Sciences are researchers in RILAS. Our membership also includes full-time teachers in humanities disciplines of other faculties, as well as numerous Guest Researchers and Adjunct Researchers. The unique research activities of RILAS are actually driven by 13 research departments (as of September 2018). In each department, researchers specializing in different fields are freed from the constraints of traditional academic disciplines to jointly undertake new interdisciplinary research projects focused on various issues.
You can confirm the general record of RILAS research activities under “Annual Activities” on this site, but if you wish to see the outcomes and records of this research and other RILAS activities in greater detail, they are published in the online journal “WASEDA RILAS JOURNAL,” which is also posted on this site. Please take a look. This journal carries reviewed papers by RILAS members, researchers, and graduate students (including those who have already completed their degree programs), and also carries special features on the annual RILAS forum, symposiums and other events hosted in each research department.
Among its varied roles, RILAS places particular emphasis on further vitalizing exchanges with overseas researchers and research institutions. The abovementioned research departments actively invite overseas researchers to serve as lecturers and panelists. Also, RILAS has often worked as the joint host of activities undertaken by Global Japanese Studies, which is a research hub for the Top Global University Project, for which Waseda University has been selected.
Moreover, the “International Forum on Humanities in East Asia” is an international symposium based on an academic exchange agreement signed by the humanities faculties of Tsinghua University (China), Nankai University (China), Hanyang University (South Korea), National Taiwan University (Taiwan), and Waseda University, and has been hosted in turn by these universities each year since the conclusion of the agreement in 2009. Faculty of Letters, Arts and Sciences, Waseda University organized and hosted this event in 2012 and 2017.
Another important responsibility of RILAS is to welcome Visiting Scholars, Visiting Research Fellows, and other researchers from overseas as part of its effort to promote academic exchanges and research activities. The low-rise part of Building 33 on Toyama Campus contains laboratories for joint research, the Senior Common Room, and other facilities geared to promoting extramural exchanges, especially exchanges with overseas researchers.
I have introduced RILAS at length, but on a more personal note, I was involved in the administration and operation of RILAS as vice director for two years from September 2012, not long after it initially opened. When compared to back then, the overall activities and achievements of RILAS have only expanded and deepened, and I now feel compelled to once again review the significance of these developments.
I say “once again” because I recall the advice I received from several researchers concerning the significance of the establishment of RILAS soon after I was appointed as vice director. The gist of this advice was as follows: “The most important thing for this organization will revolve around how it appeals to and how it supports researchers at the outset of their careers, those individuals who will drive humanities research in the coming decades.”
The various exchanges between specialist areas, joint research with overseas researchers, and various events – all of these activities are not simply immediately visible research achievements, but are also activities that will benefit the ones who will drive the future development of humanities. I will do my best to ensure that RILAS can fulfill this role into the future.