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Last modified on August 10, 2017

History of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and the College of Arts and Sciences

The College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Tokyo was founded on May 31, 1949 when the University of Tokyo was established under a new post-war system. Of all the faculties at Japanese universities with the name ‘Liberal Arts’, only ours has been autonomous from the very beginning. Through the efforts of our first dean, Tadao Yanaihara, and his colleagues, a strong foundation was laid for a Junior Division education based on a new philosophy, to be run under the auspices of the College. In Dean Yanaihara’s words, ‘we must give our students a solid base in general education needed for further study, provide them with an unbiased knowledge, and foster a spirit of a life-long quest for truth. This spirit is the lifeblood of the College of Arts and Sciences’. Although many universities in Japan abolished their liberal arts programs in the 1990s, we at the University of Tokyo instead chose to make decisive reforms to our curriculum, and the College of Arts and Sciences maintains its tradition of providing all Junior Division students with a liberal arts education.

Our Senior Division (for third- and fourth-year students) further advances the international outlook, cross-disciplinary mindset, and intellectual curiosity that students develop in the Junior Division. Following the key concepts of ‘interdisciplinarity’, ‘internationalism’ and ‘the spirit of innovation’, our Senior Sivision transcends traditional disciplinary boundaries and advances its own unique higher education. In 1962, the Department of Natural Sciences was added as a cornerstone department to the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences. Later, in response to the demands of contemporary society and the changing times, we undertook in 2011 a major reorganization to establish a tri-departmental structure: the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, the Department of Interdisciplinary Sciences, and the Department of Integrated Sciences. To this newly reorganized Senior Division, we added three humanities and social sciences sub-departments (Interdisciplinary Cultural Studies, Area Studies, and Social and International Relations); four courses in Interdisciplinary Sciences (Science and Technology Studies, Geography and Spatial Design, Informatics, and Earth Systems and Energy Sciences); as well as four natural sciences courses (Mathematical Sciences, Matter and Materials Science, Integrated Life Sciences, Cognitive and Behavioral Sciences) and one sub-course (Sports Science) in the Department of Integrated Sciences.

Our Graduate School, which is based on the College of Arts and Sciences described above, had four inaugural specializations in 1983 (the Department of Comparative Literature and Culture, Department of Area Studies, Department of International Relations, and Department of Social Relations), to which we later added the Department of Multi-Disciplinary Sciences, Department of Cultural Anthropology, and Department of Culture and Representation. In 1993, the establishment of the Department of Language and Information Sciences marked the first step in a process of rearranging the priorities of our Graduate School. In 1994, the Department of Multi-Disciplinary Sciences, and in 1995, the Department of Multi-Disciplinary Sciences-Basic Science and Department of Multi-Disciplinary Sciences-General Systems Studies were expanded and revitalized to create three natural sciences priority concentrations. In 1996, the six existing humanities and social sciences specializations were regrouped into three departments: the Department of Interdisciplinary Cultural Studies, the Department of Area Studies, and the Department of Advanced Social and International Studies. This concluded the priority reorganization of the Graduate School. In addition, the Graduate School of Mathematical Sciences (an independent research department) was established at the Komaba campus in 1992; about half of its faculty members teach concurrently in our Junior Division.

Through such an organizational structure, our Graduate School of Arts and Sciences is developing diverse leaders with the knowledge and vision to work at the cutting edge of their research fields and to cross disciplinary boundaries in order to discover new problems and solutions. To further strengthen our success in this endeavor and to develop leaders who can make international contributions, we established in April 2004 the Graduate Program on Human Security, an interdisciplinary program cutting across five academic specializations. In April 2012, we established the Graduate Program on Global Humanities, an interdisciplinary humanities and social sciences program that spans four academic specializations, with the aim of taking a cross-regional and cross-disciplinary approach to tackling the diverse range of challenges facing our world today. In October 2012, we also established programs conducted entirely in English: the Graduate Program on Global Society (an interdisciplinary humanities and social sciences program), and the Graduate Program on Environmental Sciences (an interdisciplinary humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences program). Other programs established at the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences since 2005 include the Science and Technology Interpreter Program, designed to train individuals who can facilitate dialogue between science and society; the European Studies Program and the Japan-Germany Graduate Externship Program, designed to advance interdisciplinary teaching and research related to contemporary Europe; and the University of Tokyo Center for Philosophy, an institute that aims to pioneer humanities scholarship for a new age.

There are also facilities affiliated with our College and Graduate School that aim to enhance our teaching and research, including the Center for American Studies (established in 1967), the Center for Language and Culture (established in 1979), and the Educational Computing Center, Komaba Branch (established in 1987 and renamed the Information Technology Center in 1999). Our efforts to reform and expand our teaching and research facilities continue: April 2010 saw the establishment of the Institute for Advanced Global Studies (IAGS), a facility that incorporated our existing Center for Pacific and American Studies and Center for German and European Studies and the newly created Center for Sustainable Peace, Center for Sustainable Development, and Center for African Studies. In April 2011, the Center for Middle Eastern Studies and Center for Asian Studies were added to IAGS, making it a base for research activities that are quite literally global.

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