The Graduate School of Humanities and Human Sciences—A New Hub for Human Resource Development
The predecessor of Hokkaido University’s School of Humanities and Human Sciences was the School of Law and Letters, which was established in 1947 at Hokkaido Imperial University. After the School of Law and Letters was reorganized into the Faculty of Letters (and the School of Law and Economics), the Graduate School of Letters was established and long forged ahead as a hub for education and research in the humanities in Hokkaido. Since the completion of the reorganization to strengthen our graduate school in 2000, our society has undergone significant changes, making it multifaceted, complicated and diverse in values. To face such new global characteristics and develop individuals who can contribute to addressing the challenges they bring, the Graduate School of Letters was divided into two new entities in April 2019: the Graduate School of Humanities and Human Sciences, an educational organization to which graduate students belong, and the Faculty of Humanities and Human Sciences, a research organization to which teaching staff belong. This reorganization has allowed for interdisciplinary, comprehensive education and research in the humanities and social sciences, as well as the offering of graduate programs designed to foster individuals with a broad outlook to meet the demands of society. Examples of such programs include interdisciplinary initiatives based on collaboration with other departments, such as the CHAIN (Center for Human Nature, Artificial Intelligence, and Neuroscience) Program, set for launch in the academic year 2020.
The Two-Division System: The Division of Humanities and the Division of Human Sciences
The Graduate School of Humanities and Human Sciences is made up of two divisions: the Division of Humanities and the Division of Human Sciences.
The Division of Humanities integrates the previous three divisions (Philosophy and Cultural Studies, History and Anthropology, and Linguistics and Literature), enabling students to gain a deeper insight into their chosen humanities field and receive a grounding in broad fields beyond their areas of expertise. In addition to reorganizing laboratories in line with the education and research programs being put in place, the division has established the five new laboratories of Archaeology, Cultural Anthropology, Linguistics, Museum Studies, and Ainu and Indigenous Studies, the latter two of which represent new research disciplines for Hokkaido University. By classifying these laboratories into the broad field of the humanities, the division further enhances comprehensive education while carrying on the traditional academic disciplines.
The Division of Human Sciences aims to build upon the achievements in the division of the same name that preceded it and allows students to study human sciences as a discipline that tries to understand humans from a scientific perspective. This division provides advanced and sophisticated education on humanity and society through diverse research methods, including experiments, practical work and surveys.
Now that a long time has passed since the need for internationalization had been embraced, a large number of international students are working alongside Japanese students at the Graduate School of Humanities and Human Sciences. Given the high international student count and frequent opportunities to invite overseas researchers, it can be said that our graduate school is the driver of internationalization at Hokkaido University.
Education and research in the humanities and human sciences will take on greater importance in coming years. Studies aimed at exploring humanity and society from various angles in a myriad of ways do not necessarily overlap practical studies and therefore may not directly benefit our daily lives. That being said, abilities developed through such education and research will certainly be required to forge a future for humankind. As one of Japan’s largest national graduate schools in the humanities, the Graduate School of Humanities and Human Sciences is committed to fulfilling its mission by cultivating capable human resources through education and research in diverse fields.
Takeshi FUJITA, dean
Graduate School/Faculty of Humanities and Human Sciences,