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A Message from the Dean

Hiroshi OKUMURA
Dean, the Graduate School of Humanities

The Faculty of Letters and Science, predecessor to the current Faculty of Letters, was established at Kobe University in 1949. The first prospectus emphasized post-war Japan’s need for a faculty that covered the core disciplines of higher learning.

As Japan modernized, the nation had neglected the pursuit of core academic disciplines and the scientific spirit fostered by the humanities. Even after the war, the government still placed strong controls on academia and education, resulting in Japan’s cultural standards lagging behind the rest of the world. To remedy this situation, and ensure that Japan achieved global standards of culture, the prospectus authors at Kobe University declared: “Our most pressing tasks are to totally reform the malpractice of neglecting core disciplines, and to foster upstanding citizens with scientific spirits”. We have always asserted the vital role of the humanities as a core discipline within leading research universities.

Based on the above principles, Kobe University pledges to cultivate highly-skilled researchers and specialists in the humanities. In 1968 the Graduate School of Letters Master’s Program was established, followed by the Graduate School of Cultural Studies (Doctoral Course) in 1980. In 2007 the Graduate School of Letters and the Graduate School of Cultural Studies were reorganized and merged to form the Graduate School of Humanities, establishing a framework which facilitates comprehensive postgraduate education continuing from the master’s to the doctoral course.

The Graduate School of Humanities aims to foster researchers and specialists who can identify issues facing today’s society in the realm of humanities. To achieve this, our school consists of two departments: Human Cultural Studies, enquiring into the contemporary meaning of cultural phenomena through fundamental research in academic classics, and Human Social Dynamics, engaging in dynamic analysis of society and culture based on research in the classics in order to contribute to innovation of new social forms and culture.

With the 16 courses of Philosophy, Ethics, Japanese Language and Literature, British and American Literature, Chinese and Korean Literature, European Literature, Japanese History, European History, Asian History, Psychology, Linguistics, Art Theory, Sociology, Art History, Geography, and Cultural Resources, each field has a strong specialist focus. In addition to these courses we have established a group of practical lectures and seminars that surpass the boundaries of individual research fields, with the goals of international development and close examination of issues in contemporary society. These programs are supported by our collaboration research organizations--the Port City Research Center, the Community Outreach Center, Project Innovative Ethics, and the Institute for Japanese Studies. We are also implementing Global Humanities Program that actively supports study and travel abroad for students. Within Japan we have concluded research exchange agreements with the National Institute for the Humanities, and its affiliated institutions the National Museum of Japanese History, the National Museum of Ethnology and the National Institute of Japanese Literature. Our expanding research activities include our student members.

The international port city of Kobe has a long and rich history, including the experience of the Great Hanshin Earthquake and subsequent recovery. Join us here, and together we can pioneer new fields in the humanities. I look forward to meeting you on our campus commanding a splendid view of Kobe Port.

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