Dean, School of Social Sciences, Osamu Soda
The School of Social Sciences was established in 1966 and within Waseda University can be considered relatively new. At the beginning we started as a night school during a time of high economic growth. However, after that, in the midst of great changes in Japanese society, the school transitioned to become a day and night school in 1998 and in 2009 the school became a day school only. It is by going through these two major changes, that the School was able to reach a major milestone in 2016 and celebrate its 50th Anniversary.
Throughout it all, the School of Social Sciences has contributed to society by promoting education and research activities that responds to the demands of the times and society, and by training personnel who will contribute to the development of society. Even as we speak, alumni, not only throughout Japan but all over the world, are actively making the most of their talents. It is with the next 50 years (half a century) in mind that we hold up a new vision and continue to strive for further development.
In contemporary modern society, strife and conflict persists because of differences between country and region, race and ethnicity, and religion and thought. On the other hand, climate change, specifically the increase in typhoon and heavy rain due to global warming, has caused serious flood damage and droughts and natural disasters such as earthquakes and tsunamis still remain a major threat to us. It is this harmony between human and nature and the overcoming of animosity caused by differing war histories and values that is humankind’s greatest task.
The School of Social Sciences, which is part of the Faculty of Social Sciences which includes the Graduate School of Social Sciences established in 1994 and the Institute for Advanced Social Sciences founded in 2016, aims to be a school of “comprehensive social sciences” through the 3 principles of “interdisciplinary,” “practical,” and “international” education. These 3 principles are important and fundamental as it helps us to understand a modern society that continues to become increasingly diverse and complicated. It is these 3 principles which will become a guiding path in helping us identify and solve problems as well as help us in the conceptualization and realization of a better society.
For example, to resolve the global warming, the people from every country must work to decrease their level of greenhouse gas emissions. However, judging by the trends of recent years, it is obvious that such a coordinated effort will be difficult to achieve. It is with such issues that we must use our combined knowledge of politics, economics, law, life, and environmental studies to solve. In other words, we must approach this issue with the “interdisciplinary” principle advocated by the School of Social Sciences, where we must build academic knowledge and methodology that spans multiple academic disciplines and fill in the gaps between them.
In the School of Social Sciences, students will be able to study a wide range of disciplines, not only the political sciences, economics, law and accounting, but also the humanities such as history, culture, natural sciences, life and environmental sciences and even the information sciences.
When we hear the word “practical” the word can be associated with “practical medicine.” Practical medicine is where doctors make diagnosis and apply medical treatments to adult patients. However, our definition of “practical” is separate from that. “Practical medicine” is not a discipline you can study in the School of Social Sciences, so when we say “practical” we mean it as an approach towards learning. We believe in putting emphasis on researching and studying actually occurring events. This idea is put into practice, as we have over 60 seminars in the School of Social Sciences and many of these seminars engage in field work and on-site research.
“Internationalism, International, Internationalization” are words that we now used every day and it is through the implementation of an English-based degree program in 2011 that the School’s principle of “international” education really shines through. In our English-based degree program, students take courses entirely in English and earn a bachelor’s diploma at the end of their studies here.
Our English program started as the “Contemporary Japanese Studies Program” (CJSP) and was going smoothly, but with the changes in society and following the momentum of the rapid reform happening in the University as a whole, we realized that we needed to further develop our English Program. So in 2018, our English program became the “Transnational and Interdisciplinary Studies in Social Innovation Program” (TAISI) program. The Japanese character for “TAISI” is “Great Ambition/Wish” and it is our great wish/ambition to create and train future social leaders and innovators.
In addition, we have been proactive in creating partnerships and agreements with overseas universities in order to become active partners in student and academic exchanges. With the successful signing of these agreements, the School of Social Sciences is then able to establish a connection with these overseas universities and then send Waseda students and faculty abroad easily. We currently have agreements with universities such as Wuhan University (China), National Taiwan University (Taiwan), National University of East Timor (East Timor), Vietnam National University (Vietnam), and Padjadjaran University (Indonesia). Through the promotion of such activities, we hope to be able to further accelerate the internationalization of our undergraduate school.
In conclusion, the School of Social Sciences aims to be a school of “comprehensive social sciences” that strongly advocates educational and research activities through the 3 principles of “interdisciplinary,” “practical,” and “international” education.