Overview of the Program

School of Human Sciences/ Graduate School of Human Sciences

The School of Human Sciences was established in 1972 covering three academic disciplines: psychology, sociology, and education. It was the first school or faculty to carry the name ‘human sciences’ in Japan. In 1976 the Graduate School of Human Sciences was created offering Master and Doctoral level programs. The school offers interdisciplinary courses that aim to foster a better understanding of human beings and build a more humane and just society. Areas of study include sociology, anthropology, philosophy, education, behavioral sciences, psychology, human development, and area studies. Our focus is the development of an interdisciplinary, international, and problem-solving orientation to research and education.

Human Sciences International Undergraduate Degree Program

The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology (MEXT) of Japan launched the Global 30 project in 2009 to increase the international competitiveness of Japanese universities in the context of high levels of global student mobility. Global 30 is part of the Ministry’s plan to increase the number of international students in Japan to 300,000 by the year 2020 and is shorthand for MEXT’s Project for Establishing Core Universities for Internationalization. We are expected to develop programs in English at undergraduate and graduate levels, and to create an enabling campus environment for international students. At the same time, internationalization of these university campuses is expected to help Japanese students and researchers increase language skills and foster the confidence to become active players in today’s increasingly global world.

The School of Human Sciences offers an undergraduate degree program taught in English – the Human Sciences International Undergraduate Degree Program. It is an innovative program that enables students to major in one of two tightly integrated majors, Global Citizenship and Contemporary Japan. The program aims to cultivate self-motivated and reflective students with a sophisticated knowledge base and the necessary practical skills to meet the challenges of our fast-changing, globalized world. It will also provide students with a well-defined area of expertise and a high level of inter-cultural competency.

Global Citizenship Major

The Global Citizenship major provides knowledge, skills, and mindsets for critical engagement and reflection on global issues. It is designed for students hoping to work in international agencies including the UN, NGOs, municipal agencies, and corporate social responsibility (CSR) sections of global and Japanese businesses.

This major explores the limits and potential of citizenship in a world of massive global migration and huge demographic shifts within nations and between communities. Citizenship is a powerful concept that defines both individual rights and responsibilities towards other citizens. Within the context of modernity, this responsibility was limited to fellow countrymen and women (citizenship was conflated with nationality), but in the 21st century the need to recognize the interdependency of all human beings across national borders is emphasized. Here citizenship entails awareness of rights and responsibilities in relation to the global community.

Contemporary Japan Major

Students in the Contemporary Japan major will study Japan through the lens of human sciences. The curriculum will encourage the development of informed, critical, and multicultural perspectives on contemporary Japan, Japanese culture, and its international relations. In line with Japanese studies curriculums delivered internationally, the courses in this major are delivered in English. As students gain ability in the Japanese language, there will be opportunities to take elective classes from the Human Sciences’ Japanese language course offerings.

The content of this major recognizes Japan as an important economic, technological, political, and cultural player on the world stage, as well as the producer of diverse and exciting local and sub-cultures. Course content understands Japan as a society that combines strong ‘traditional’ elements, through key institutions such as families, companies, and schools, with incredible innovation in social life and human relations.

Shared Vision for the Two Majors

The Global Citizenship and Contemporary Japan majors are effectively integrated in order to nurture internationally aware individuals who can think and act both locally and globally. Students will graduate from Osaka University with a Bachelor of Human Sciences degree.

In both majors, we encourage you to:

  • Think about facts and data from comparative and multiple perspectives, and to look at contemporary Japan from a variety of viewpoints and to recognize that it is in a process of dynamic transformation;
  • Compare your home country and Japan, and examine both in historical, regional, and global contexts;
  • Study and analyze contemporary issues as a global citizen, and present your own views and ideas logically using relevant terms and theoretical frameworks;
  • Engage in constructive dialogue and deliberations with other students, faculty members, and a variety of social actors in order to take necessary action independently and/or in collaboration for effective problem solving;
  • Acquire high-level Japanese language proficiency sufficient to take elective courses offered in Japanese in different human sciences-related disciplines in your senior year.

The Program features highly interactive and innovative teaching with students having close contact with international professors across a wide range of human science disciplines. The research, linguistics, and high-level academic skills that this Program sets firmly as learning outcomes will make you attractive to a variety of future employers once you graduate. We see some of you staying on to work for companies in Japan, while others may choose international companies with a Japan portfolio or with a global orientation. If you take the Global Citizenship major we would expect you to be well equipped to work for international humanitarian organizations and NGOs. Regardless of which major you eventually take you will have numerous opportunities to continue studies at the post-graduate level at Osaka University, or at other top-level universities in Japan or overseas.