The Department of International Studies, a pioneer of international studies education in Japan, celebrated its 30th Anniversary in 2017. Building upon this tradition, the department continually points the way towards new educational content in international studies that reflects the changing international environment.
Since its inception, the department has focused on multi-disciplinary education in order to examine “peace,” “justice,” and “diversity” as rubrics of international studies. Scholars of cultural studies, economics, and law & politics offer a range of challenging courses that cut across field of specialization. Students can choose a concentration from six areas of study: the three fields of “Comparative Culture,” “International•Comparative Economics,” and “Comparative law”; and the three multidisciplinary fields of “Peace Studies,” “Environmental Studies,” and “Multicultural Society.” Students then take specialized subjects that center on their area of study. In regional studies courses, scholars of Asia, Europe, Africa and the Americas offer multidisciplinary lectures that transcend academic disciplines.
Well-developed English skills are important to studying international issues. The Department of International Studies’ own “Specialized Foreign Language” (senmon gaikokugo) program offers such training. These English language classes are particularly concentrated in the first year. Students continue this training from the second year, with the aim of improving their English ability. The department’s lecture courses include many held in English. These are taught by the Faculty’s professors and visiting faculty from the University of California. Our students can thus take specialized classes with exchange students from many countries.
In the first and second years, our students gain fundamental knowledge by taking information literacy and elementary classes in a foreign language (French, German, Chinese, Spanish, Russian, Korean, Arabic, etc.) that are offered by the Center for Liberal Arts. They can also expand their liberal arts background with the Center’s “Meiji Gakuin General Education Courses.”
In addition to the lecture classes above, seminars are another important pillar in the department’s academic training. With about ten members each, seminars create an environment in which students and faculty members work closely together as they deeply study a specific theme. In the first year seminars, students gain fundamental knowledge for college. Then, starting from the fall of year two, students join 2 1/2 yearlong seminars in which they strongly encourage each other as they pursue their own research topics.
The curriculum also places great importance on off-campus opportunities for synthesizing practical experience and knowledge gained from lectures, seminars and readings. These include study abroad at a partner university, doing an internship, and Field Studies held by the seminars.
In the seminars of their last year, students complete a graduation thesis. This is the culmination of the experiences and knowledge they have gained from the department’s open-minded intellectual environment.