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A Message from the Dean

MASUMOTO Hiroko
Dean, Graduate School of Humanities

The humanities consist of a body of academic disciplines each tackling the question, ‘What is a human being?’ In order to answer this question, humanities scholars study a range of phenomena in human cultures and societies from ancient times to the present. Indeed, without exaggeration or presumption, it can easily be said that the humanities are the basis of all scholarly enquiry.

However, today’s unbalanced emphasis on technology and science has resulted in a devaluation of traditional humanities degree programs both in Japan and around the world. It is true that advancements in the fields of technology and science, as well as in economics and in global politics, have dramatically affected our lives; but at the same time they have also caused numerous serious problems such as environmental pollution, global climate changes and economic inequality. Humanities disciplines, which can make a unique contribution to solving these problems, have never been more necessary.

The Graduate School of Humanities at Kobe University has active research centers (e.g. ‘The Project Innovative Ethics’; ‘The Port Cities Research Center’) and has been engaged in various academic research projects and activities to address a number of important social issues. The results of our innovative research projects are shared in the classrooms of our postgraduate courses. We also seek to increase public awareness and understanding of the humanities thorough further interdisciplinary research and public engagement.

In addition to the courses at the Graduate School of Humanities, we have also developed and facilitated various and unique international joint-research and exchange programs aimed to help participants in pursuing their academic and professional careers abroad. ‘The International Training Program for Young Researchers’, and ‘The Institutional Program for Young Researcher Overseas Visits’, have sent many young graduate-level scholars abroad for both short term and long term periods of research. As part of the ‘Project for Promotion of Global Human Resource Development, Kobe University’, we have been active in developing ‘The Global Humanities Program’ since April 2012, which is focused on encouraging and aiding master students interested in studying abroad. On April 2014, the ‘Kobe Research Institute of Japanese Culture and Society’ was established. This institute not only provides teaching programs in Japanese language and culture, but also internationally publishes and disseminates its research results in the area of Japanese studies.

We welcome new students who can challenge the status quo, enthusiastically conduct their own research projects, and actively contribute to the development of the humanities in the 21st century.

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