The power to overcome difficulties and move forward
Last year, our society was attacked by the coronavirus, the origin of which remains unclear. Even as you’re reading these words, it’s possible that the situation has not improved very much. Because of the coronavirus, Shizuoka University was forced to conduct many classes online, and soon we were presented with the strange sight of our students disappearing from campus almost completely. Online classes were an unknown experience for students, faculty, and staff, and we had to address issues such as whether online classes could guarantee the same level of education as face-to-face classes, and whether there was a sufficient infrastructure system that could be used to offer online classes. Above all, we were concerned what the mental and psychological impact of students not being able to be on campus would be.
Given the current situation, what does it mean to study in the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences? The Faculty’s Admissions Policy declares that it will “develop citizens and working adults with international perspectives and broad educations who have acquired—through their studies in the social sciences, language, culture, law, politics, and economics—the expertise and abilities necessary to tackle the various issues of the 21st century, citizens who will be able to contribute significantly to the development of society.” This policy may sound like nothing more than a bunch of fancy sentences, but the reality of the situation is that we have skills and expertise developed through studies in the humanities and social sciences and we must use this expertise and these skills to help those who are living under great difficulties. The problems caused by the coronavirus are not only medical, epidemiological, and pharmaceutical problems, but also economic, political, legal, and social problems. Empathy for others, human connections, mutual understanding, and helping others are the core ideas at the heart of the original studies in the humanities and the sciences, and solving problems such as the ones listed above was the original raison d’etre (“reason for existence“) for such studies. Until the 18th century, it was called Moral Philosophy.
In 1947, Albert Camus published The Plague, in which a merciless devil called “the plague” attacked people indiscriminately, causing many deaths; however, the novel also depicted citizens cooperating and fighting to survive the disaster. Earlier, in 1722, Daniel Defoe, famous for Robinson Crusoe, had also published a novel called The Plague. Defoe’s novel was inspired by the plague pandemic of 1655, and it is said that its main purpose was to provide measures to maintain both soul and body in a time of plague. The coronavirus and other plagues are problems of the human “soul.” The humanities and social sciences are the disciplines that deal with this “soul.” All faculty members of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences want you not only to acquire expertise and skills, but also to cultivate the ability to overcome difficulties employing that expertise and those skills. As our faculty’s Diploma Policy states, “Graduates should have an awareness of their roles as contributing members of society and should be able to cooperate with others to solve problems.” What studying in our faculty actually means is “while developing expertise knowledge and skills, students develop an awareness of themselves as citizens in our society, citizens with a strong desire and ability to cooperate with others, overcome problems, and move forward.” This is the education that we faculty members would like to greet you with when you arrive on campus in the lovely green spring.