Since ancient times, humankind has placed great value on the principle of autonomy in decision-making. The value system we project onto our future outlook and the way in which this shapes our actions and behavior is central to our very existence. A common thread that runs through all 14 departments and courses in the School of Letters is an emphasis on the importance of combining specialized studies with the subjective powers of reasoning and appraisal. It is an environment that allows students to enjoy the pleasure of expressing ideas and concepts and tackling intellectual challenges together. With courses designed to be enjoyable and intellectually rewarding at the same time, the School of Letters provides an excellent preparation for life after university.
Applicants must demonstrate a commitment to self-motivated study along with an appreciation of and a desire to achieve the learning objectives of the School of Letters as follows. The School equips graduates with the skills to comprehend and analyze contemporary society from an objective historical viewpoint and to construct their own opinions based on their particular field of specialization. They will also develop communication skills for expressing their ideas and understandings, whether in Japanese or a foreign language such as English or via visual expression, with the ultimate aim of contributing to society in order to make life better for all.
The Department of Civilization encourages an independent approach to tackling issues via critical thinking that is not constrained by mainstream approaches. The four-year course examines the various types of civilizations developed by humankind over the years. Students acquire a global perspective that helps them to understand the present and develop critical thinking skills for negotiating the modern world. The Department of Civilization offers a range of specializations in areas such as society, philosophy and thought, ethnicity, the environment, the urban environment, and gender identity. Practical course components such as exercises and fieldwork are important components of all courses.
The Department of Asian Civilization examines the many civilizations that have flourished at various times within the vast region stretching from Egypt and Turkey through Central Asia, India and Southeast Asia to China and the Korean peninsula, with a particular focus on space and time, literally, from ancient through to modern times. The curriculum explores the four great ancient civilizations (Mesopotamian, Indus, Chinese and Egyptian) and considers the importance of world heritage assets in Asia. It is designed to stimulate intellectual curiosity and fire the imagination through a variety of programs including overseas training in Asia, and offers 11 different Asian language options.
European civilization, the font of Western civilization, emerged from ancient Greece and Rome and evolved through various regions and races, creating the coherent system of principles, religious ideas and value systems that we know today. In the Department of European Civilization, students explore European civilization through paradigms of diversity, consistent ideology, traditional cultures and the driving forces behind modern civilization. They also develop an international appreciation. They also apply this knowledge to better understand Japanese civilization and culture and relativist and objective ideologies.
The American continent has produced many civilizations, such as the Mayans, the Aztecs and the Incas. A better understanding of the positive and negative legacies of the American continent based on in-depth analysis can provide insights into many of the issues and challenges facing the modern world. In the Department of American Civilization, students explore the history and culture of Northern, Central and Southern America and develop an overall picture of American civilization as the aggregated embodiment of human society and culture. The Department of American Civilization creates future leaders with a deep appreciation of the role of the American continent, which has long been a major creator of global culture.
Nordic countries regularly top the World Happiness Report from the United Nations with strong ratings in welfare, gender equality, education and technological innovation, leading the world in those aspects. The Department of Nordic Studies offers social scientific explorations of the social systems and structures of the Nordic countries, along with studies of culture and history that examine the beliefs and values of the Nordic races, with a particular focus on cultural and historical aspects as well as Nordic mythology and literature. Students acquire a broad mindset and open-minded outlook, a flexible approach to thinking, and a creative drive that will provide them with strong foundations for designing their own futures. There is a heavy emphasis on the study of Nordic languages.
Students are divided into small groups to study the art of reading and interpreting historical texts, which constitutes the fundamental basis of history research. They are actively encouraged to engage in presenting and debating research results, and in this way develop the ability to observe and evaluate modern society from a long-term perspective. The study of Japanese history is more than just accumulating dates and facts; it requires the ability to identify and address issues in an autonomous manner. Students acquire a balanced understanding of history based on the acquisition of accurate information and knowledge, which they can then use to address issues in modern society predicated on a particular vision of the future.
Students are taught Oriental history by a variety of experts covering a wide scope from ancient history through to modern history. The Oriental region has a fascinating history characterized by the rise and fall of successive civilizations over many thousands of years. In the Department of History—Oriental History, students explore historical perspectives on Asian ethnic groupings both past and present, with a particular focus on China. They also study either Chinese or Korean while preparing a graduation thesis, and in this way build up an overall picture of Oriental history. Course content is closely affiliated with the Department of Asian Civilization, providing the opportunity to augment Asian studies with history subjects that focus on other eras and regions.
The Department of History—Occidental History offers courses in Occidental history with a particular focus on Western Europe and the Mediterranean. Students can choose from a diverse range of subjects ranging from ancient to modern history and examining the specific regional, political, ethnic and cultural characteristics of different countries. Classes are augmented by seminar presentations on specific countries and regions, giving students the opportunity to discuss and debate Occidental history in small groups and with their instructors in greater depth. Foreign language study is an important part of the learning process, and interested students can apply to participate in overseas study abroad programs where they can utilize their newly acquired language skills while pursuing their studies in another country.
Archaeology is a study of history based on the examination of evidence of past human endeavors. The Department of History—Archaeology explores archaeology throughout the world and features a significant fieldwork component that includes excavation of archaeological sites and relics where students can learn excavation, observation and measurement techniques. Students also take courses from the natural sciences in order to learn how to analyze and evaluate their findings on site. Special presentations and practicums from guest instructors provide opportunities to explore related fields such as animal archaeology and plant archaeology.
There are many works of literature written in the Japanese language that convey a great deal about Japanese culture and that continue to form the ideology and outlook of the Japanese people today. The Department of Japanese Literature teaches advanced communication skills using culture and language through a comprehensive examination of Japanese literature and the Japanese language that extends to the universal relevance of Japanese literature on the global stage and the structure and ongoing evolution of the Japanese language. Students are encouraged to proudly promote Japanese literature on the world stage and to develop new ideas and proposals incorporating traditional precepts.
It is important to be able to convey and express thoughts and ideas accurately and effectively. We cannot express ourselves effectively unless we know how to use language properly. The Department of Creative Writing offers a broad selection of subjects that are predicated on the key concepts of reading, writing and learning. Students learn how to express themselves effectively and how to analyze and critique works of art and literature as well as society in general. The curriculum examines a variety of literature genres, including Japanese and foreign literature, modern literature and the classics, and explores multiple forms of expression including novels, poetry, film and theater. Through a combination of reading, learning and creating, students acquire fundamental skills of expression relevant to a range of different settings and environments.
The curriculum is divided into four distinct streams: communication skills, English language, linguistics, and British and American literature. Students study these areas while learning how to express their ideas and thoughts effectively in English. Each stream includes introductory subjects where students can study the fundamentals while pursuing their own research. There are regular opportunities for overseas language study where students can hone their language skills in real-world settings. Many students in the Department of English are involved in overseas study abroad programs.
The Department of Media Studies offers a comprehensive curriculum spanning multiple media genres including newspapers, broadcasting, publishing, advertising and the internet. Students explore the concept of information that has genuine social value and learn how to discern and extract social value of personal benefit. Students also develop next-generation leadership skills through a comprehensive examination of the theoretical constructs, industry conventions and techniques of content generation in three fields: news reporting, lifestyle and entertainment, and publicity and advertising. There are many opportunities to engage directly with industry groups and organizations within and outside the university, taking part in real-world projects such as program production and media planning.
The Department of Psychological and Sociological Studies provides a balanced curriculum that examines issues in modern society through a combination of psychology (the study of human behaviors) and sociology (the study of human society and interaction). Students learn about demonstrative analysis as they explore issues and develop skills in discussion and counseling. They also learn surveying and interviewing techniques for social research and practical skills for the modern world such as computer literacy and digital media competency. A dedicated subject on counseling theory and techniques is also offered, while additional assistance is provided for students keen to obtain external qualifications in psychology.