Welcome to the website of the Graduate School of Political Science at Waseda University.
My name is Takahiko Tanaka. I became the dean of the graduate school in September 2018.
Is there no limit to the tumult and decline in Japanese society and the international community? Many years have passed by with many coming to feel this sense of hopelessness. Both domestic society and the international community are now rampant with political and diplomatic leaders who brazenly take stances of pursuing selfish gains, placing the needs of only their immediate communities first. What ill effects will the omnipresence of such attitudes have on the global community? They do not think seriously about such issues. This tide of selfishness and self-righteousness appears to be becoming entrenched around the world.
Even if all individuals and countries strive only to capture the greatest benefit for themselves, the “invisible hand” will ultimately act to maintain harmony: It is already clear that this outdated way of thinking is not sound. However, selfish, self-righteous political discourse and political behavior that should long ago have been banished to the dustbin of history is not only being legitimated but is even becoming dominant.
Why are these trends—happening in sync within both the international community and domestic Japanese society—becoming ever more prominent? And what should we do to respond to and deal with them? These questions are alive in the world of politics, and it would be no exaggeration to say that they are now the most crucial questions to try to answer for those now studying the world of politics. After all, the single-minded pursuit of self-interest in the international community gives rise to hard-to-heal rifts, such as inequality and nationalistic clashes, which risk triggering destructive, earthshaking changes to the world order.
These changes have already become manifest. Major causes of the “unexpected” result of the 2016 US presidential election lie in the growing inequality in the US and the lack of effective attempts to fix the problem. The causes of the growing strength of far-right political parties in Europe and elsewhere are similar. The result of all this is that it has now become extremely difficult for humanity to overcome barriers between communities and to cooperate on the various global problems that can only be resolved by doing so. Lying at the end of the path we are all walking is the extinction of humanity as a species. Such an apocalyptic way of viewing things is not especially new, and, arguably, neither is it merely an excessively pessimistic outlook.
What are the causes of the tumult and decline in the international community and domestic society? And what can we do to allow us to banish the tumult and escape from the path of decline? To arrive at answers to these questions, we must bring to bear all our collective knowledge to accurately understand the complexities of our current situation without oversimplification. The diversification and growing complexity of the modern world have made it extremely difficult to understand the entire world and to bring order to it. All the factors that constitute the modern world are interconnected; any attempt to change one factor must entail also changing numerous other factors. Furthermore, we do not have a good understanding of which sets of factors we must change. When faced with this complex world, we tend to fall into an unthinking state; we tend to get trapped in schemes based on oversimplified “emotion.” Indeed, the fact that the world is overflowing with simplistic slogans of “Us first” frequently appealing to emotion may indicate that we have already fallen into this trap. Moreover, it is utterly undeniable that there are those in the world of politics who have intentionally set the trap.
Waseda University’s Graduate School of Political Science is the locus of a network of knowledge and practice in the social sciences with which we can search for clues for how we can free ourselves from such traps and impasses. Students will study theoretical, philosophical, and historical approaches to modern political science comprehensively. Through collaboration with the Graduate School of Economics, they will also mobilize the intellectual resources of all the social sciences—including political science—to seek out the causes of the tumult of the modern world and the techniques that can be used to eliminate those causes. They will think through how they can bring the knowledge and experience they have gained through their studies to bear on the real-world practice of journalism, public management, and other fields.
They will share a robust understanding of the issues and will use diverse means to re-instill the overall system of the global community with peace, fairness, and order. Won’t you, too, come join this “intellectual collaborative body,” in which faculty members and students engage with this urgent task through inquiry?