Department of Social and Human Studies
Exploration of Human Societies and Cultures
Fieldwork: real experiences and practices
Our department considers it very valuable for students to go outside the university, communicate with the people in the local community, find problems related to their own interest, explore them, and find their own solutions. Learning through on-site observation, interviews with local people, and fieldwork data collection--and sharing their findings constitute a key element of our program.
The Few and the Proud
Our department offers five courses: anthropology, sociology, psychology, cultural anthropology, and history. A total of 29 full-time faculty members provide education for "the few and the proud" a total of 300 undergraduate students. It is our sincere wish that we produce graduates who can think freely from unique viewpoints and who can, armed with concrete knowledge and correct judgment, play active roles in society.
We are one of the few departments of social sciences at state-run universities. The combination of subjects our department offers enables analyses of modern society through theoretical, empirical, global and historical approaches. In each specialty field, students comprehend theories through reading original literature, then verify them through experiments, interviews, participant observation, excavation, and historic materials.
Principle- and Evidence-based Education and Research
Our department considers why problems arise in modern society, how the forms and structures of human society and culture have changed and developed, how a wide range of cultures across the globe affect us. We attempt to answer these questions using both principle and evidence.
Where did we humans come from and where are we heading?
We live in a very stressful society and embrace a great many worries. Children have many behavioral problems, a reflection on adult society. Science and technology have made the advanced information society and life manipulation possible. Where, however, are we humans heading?
Anthropology reexamines the real root of "what are humans?" in looking for answers to this question. Both space science, which deals with the vast outer space, and genetic engineering, which deals with micro-level life phenomena, are related to the question "What are humans?" Anthropology, then, is a thrilling knowledge competition, with multidisciplinary approaches, to discover the very root of human beings.
The anthropology course provides students with opportunities to encounter the great spiritual creativity of the past through "classical" literature as well as field study. In art and culture class, for example, students interview artists and curators at museums and art galleries, while, in somatology class, we invite experts in Qigong, Tai Chi, Noh dramas and Korean dance to perform for students as a means of studying the physiques of Asian people. For more information, visit our website at http://www.hss.shizuoka.ac.jp/shakai/ningen-j.html. You will find the latest news of the Anthropology Course and a list of the topics students have chosen for graduation theses.
In order to develop studentsf ability to explore and examine various phenomena in society from a wide range of angles, record them precisely, and analyze their causes, the sociology course offers classes in the theory and methodology of sociology, as well as lectures and seminars on real social issues involving the family, welfare, gender, the environment, ethnicity, and education. From the sophomore year on, giving reports and participating in discussions help students improve their communication ability. We have also introduced the certification program for social researchers, establishing an environment in which students can acquire the skills to generate sociological data more systematically. For their graduation research projects, students challenge themselves with an analysis of issues in modern society that they themselves are interested in.
Psychology as a Tool to Deepen Understanding of Human Beings
Psychology is the scientific understanding of mental activity and its mechanisms. Mental activity occurs in various forms, for example, consciously, unconsciously, or behaviorally. The study of mental functions and mechanisms enables observation of oneself and others from various viewpoints. Psychology is thus very useful in understanding human beings. Our studies are based on both quantitative data and qualitative data that can be obtained from listening to subjects. It is a well-known fact that there is increasing demand for mental support in our modern society with many people having problems in interpersonal relationships. Practical applications that deal with such mental problems are also a part of psychology.
The joy of studying psychology comes in the discovery of a new understanding of human beings. We hope students will deepen their understanding of human beings by learning psychology.
Cross-Cultural Dialogues and Mutual Understanding
The recent acceleration of globalization has caused more and more contacts and conflicts between cultures and, as a result, cross-cultural dialogues and mutual understanding have emerged again as important issues. Cultural anthropology is learning by questioning "What are humans?" through cross-cultural dialogues. The question of "What are humans?" is not unique to cultural anthropology, but cultural anthropology is unique in the sense that in addressing this question, it emphasizes listening to people from different cultural backgrounds and studying all cultures from global and local perspectives.
Global and Local Perspectives
Cultural anthropology takes a multifaceted approach. It examines human populations of both past and present. It performs comparative studies of every culture human beings have created. It also has a local perspective, seeking to discover, employing data obtained through fieldwork, the specific principles and forms of each human culture.
Listening to Voices of People with Different Cultural Backgrounds
Cultural anthropology places key importance on fieldwork: visiting a site and immersing oneself in the local culture, engaging in cross-cultural dialogues, and striving for cross-cultural understanding. It is more important to listen to what people with different cultural backgrounds have to say and learn from them than to attempt to create a cultural reality from an abstract theory.
Dialogue between the Past and the Present
Historians examine and explain current issues at home and overseas by viewing them through the past. With globalization accelerating, both expertise knowledge and a wider vision are required. Our course offers students the opportunity to study a broad range of historical issues in the first two years and to study specialized areas of Japanese history and culture, comparative history of world civilizations, modern world history, and archeology in the last two years. Recently, together with political history and socioeconomic history, a wide variety of themes including environment, welfare, and family has become the subject of historical study.
Learning from Living History
"Studying history" is not just learning interpreted history but examining and experiencing the writing, artwork, folklore, and material culture that people of the past have created. Thus, our course places importance on fieldwork and nurturing studentsf basic scholastic ability for figuring out history through direct interaction with historic materials.
Through a variety of experiences, students discover their own topics for their graduation theses.