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A Message from the Dean

The Kobe University Graduate School of Humanities was established as the Department for Humanities and Sciences in 1949, celebrating its 70th anniversary in 2019. Over this period both the state of society as a whole and the organization of the School has undergone wide-reaching change. Currently we are made up of 15 specializations that cover a wide range of academic disciplines, including philosophy, literature, history, psychology, linguistics, art studies, sociology, art history, and geography.

Though the structure of the School has changed, the work we do in the humanities, drawing together classic texts that represent the accumulation of human wisdom with present-day issues, has remained a constant. As stated in our admission policy, the Graduate School of Humanities continues to be an environment that nurtures individuals who are active in society, by instilling both a deep understanding of the humanities through these classic works, and the ability to make use of that knowledge through dialogue with society more broadly.

In order to realize and maintain this nurturing environment, the Graduate School of Humanities works to provide an education with consistently small class sizes, instruction in a broad range of knowledge in the humanities across 15 specializations, and development of communication ability in foreign languages necessary for cross-cultural dialogue. Through these efforts we aim to cater specifically to each individual student’s curiosity and interest, and pass to them the skills that allow them to both form and resolve their own research questions.

The society within which each of us live is, through the rapid of development of technology such as the internet or AI, or through the sudden and irregular onset of a pandemic, irreversibly changing. It is precisely because we are living through such an age that we are impelled to take a moment to return to the classic texts in which so much human wisdom is crystallized. These classic works can, as a deep source of wisdom, provide us with a foundation for thinking about how humanity has adapted to changes such as those we are currently dealing with, or how these current changes differ from those in the past. Embedding this scholarly attitude into the environment of our School is one of the strengths of the Graduate School of Humanities.

The Graduate School of Humanities also provides, through dialogue with broader society, space for the practical application of this knowledge in the humanities. One example of this is the establishment this year of the Institute for the Promotion of the Humanities. The Institute was established to promote further collaboration between four education and research organizations we have here at the school, namely, the Community Outreach Center, the Port Cities Research Center, the Innovative Ethics Project, and the Japanese Studies Program. This new space promotes the development of new projects that boldly engage with current issues in the humanities. Furthermore, in order to develop our research output and improve our student engagement we also promote close collaboration with local government from the prefectural level downwards, as well as various universities in East Asia, Europe and America.

In the Graduate School of Humanities we also promote cross-cultural dialogue. As part of the Kobe-Oxford Japanese Studies Program, started in 2012, all second-year students studying for a degree in Oriental Studies and specializing in Japanese at Oxford University (around 12 individuals) come to our faculty to spend a year learning the Japanese language and Japanese culture. Through this program, the sight of Oxford students and Japanese students exchanging conversation has become common across campus, and there has been a clear positive effect on our students. Furthermore, many students from Japan have also started to participate in the English language and British culture workshops that take place at Oxford University in the summer, contributing to the overall increase in interest in overseas experiences.

In this way, the Graduate School of Humanities works to carry forward and build upon the core business of the humanities, that is, to bring together and consider classic texts, the accumulation of human knowledge, with present-day issues. We look forward to welcoming to the Graduate School of Humanities those who have an interest in the various fields in the humanities and who wish to pursue with fervor their own research interests without having to adhere to an established set of values, as well as those who are equipped with a scholarly outlook and have a desire to develop their own academic research within an interdisciplinary and international framework.

Dean of the Graduate School of Humanities
Nagasaka Ichiro