Research Institute for Letters, Arts and SciencesWaseda University

About the Center

From the Director

Research Institute for Letters, Arts and Sciences

From the Director

Kimiko Kono

 The Faculty of Letters, Arts and Sciences conducts a broad and diverse range of research activities in the field of humanities. In 2007 the Faculty of Letters, Arts and Sciences reorganized two previous organizations – the School of Letters, Arts and Sciences I, and the School of Letters, Arts and Sciences II – to establish the School of Culture, Media and Society, and the School of Humanities and Social Sciences. The Graduate School of Letters, Arts and Sciences also reorganized its majors in the humanities and sciences into a single stream, resulting in the formation of the two faculties and one department that we have today. We now devote even greater effort and resources into systematic research, based primarily on traditional fields of philosophy, history, and letters, but also incorporating cross-disciplinary research and initiatives based on new approaches with reference to current issues. Within the Faculty of Letters, Arts and Sciences, the Research Institute for Letters, Arts and Sciences (RILAS) was established in April 2012 as a platform for expanding our research in specialist fields and comprehensively promoting the creation of academic fields corresponding to new social conditions, along with the interdisciplinary and international deployment of research in the humanities.

All full-time teachers (including specially appointed teachers and assistant professors) affiliated with the Faculty of Letters, Arts and Sciences are also researchers in RILAS. Our membership then includes full-time teachers in humanities disciplines from other faculties, as well as numerous guest and adjunct researchers. The unique research activities of RILAS are driven by no less than fifteen research departments (as of September 2020). In each department, researchers specializing in different fields are freed from the constraints of traditional academic disciplines to jointly undertake new interdisciplinary research projects, each focused on one from a wide variety of issues. Each department conducts vigorous research activities, including symposiums, research conferences, lecture meetings, and workshops, based on appealing themes and strategic issues all geared toward deepening or even fusing their respective strands of humanities learning. Moreover, RILAS stages an annual forum that provides an opportunity to widely report and transmit its research achievements.

RILAS also devotes a great deal of energy to issuing the Waseda RILAS Journal, an online publication, as an important media tool for communicating research achievements. First issued in 2013, each edition of the Waseda RILAS Journal conveys a dynamic range of content, including an extensive selection of reviewed dissertations posted by Institute members, researchers, students, and graduates of the Graduate School of Letters, Arts and Sciences; special features on symposiums and research conferences staged by the research departments; and reports from the annual forum.

In the area of international research, RILAS takes part in the “International Forum on Humanities in East Asia,” based on agreements with Hanyang University (South Korea), Nankai University (China), National Taiwan University (Taiwan), Tsinghua University (China), and the Hong Kong Polytechnic University. This forum, which has been held every year since 2009 to promote academic exchanges in East Asia in the field of humanities, is hosted in turn by one of the member universities. RILAS organized and hosted the event in 2012 (the fourth forum) and 2017 (the ninth). Also, RILAS is involved as a co-host in numerous international academic events that are being held under the Top Global University Project: Waseda Goes Global.

As you can see, RILAS has proactively conducted a diverse range of research activities and widely transmitted its achievements. At the same time, it has directed efforts towards the support and training of young researchers, as is evidenced by its hosting of seminars on writing dissertations in English, and a challenging seminar for applicants aspiring to gain entry to the Research Fellowship for Young Scientists run by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science.

In the midst of major upheavals around the world, it is extremely difficult to look ahead; there is no better time, however, to contemplate the future through shared dialog and the organic connection of knowledge in the field of humanities. I will do my best to ensure that RILAS can effectively function as a center for promoting, deploying, and transmitting research, while at the same time being somewhere to contemplate the significance and possibilities of humanities.

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