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Message from the Dean

Welcome to the Graduate School of Global Studies
An increasingly chaotic world
 To understand the world today, we probably need to begin by reflecting on the time around 1990 when the balance between East and West, structured by the Cold War, came to an end. The dramatic improvements in transportation and means of communication during the 1990s boosted the flow of people and goods to an unprecedented level. In Europe, the establishment of the European Union transcended the framework of nation state, a development that prompted discussions about the establishment of the East Asian Community as a post-Cold-War system here in East Asia as well. I, too, had a vague expectation that the world would be changing for the better for everyone from then on.

 As it turned out, however, war and terrorism did not end after the collapse of the Cold War system, as the thousands of refugees remind us. Nuclear weapons capable of destroying the earth many times over still exist. Meanwhile, the global movement of capital and increasingly deregulated market economies have widened the gap between rich and poor, disrupting local communities and leading to an increased sense of isolation and social anxieties among people. More recently, we see the emergence of nationalist and populist movements that stress national identity and appear, in some forms at least, to instigate discrimination against minorities. All these tendencies show that the world is becoming increasingly chaotic.

Thinking in global & regional contexts
 The aforementioned phenomena are not confined to single regions. Nor can disciplines such as politics, economics, literature, or history hope to encapsulate them in their entirety. The shortcomings of a single-disciplinary approach point to the ways in which contemporary challenges are increasingly interdependent and intertwined. We shall tentatively define Global Studies as a multidisciplinary collective created in order to discuss and overcome the antagonistic and unequal circumstances that exist across various regions and fields. To be more specific, it is a collective that deals with complicated, hard-to-resolve global or region-specific issues, in which one seemingly beneficial action has a knock-on effect that causes difficulties elsewhere; or, in another scenario, aid that is given to one community proves detrimental to another community.

Asking questions and discussing critically
 Though it is common practice to approach global and individual issues in the context of single regions that are connected to a larger whole, this response is inadequate. For example, the concept of capital expansion and the military balance between regions is certainly one way to approach global issues, but it hardly seems enough to overcome the challenges we face today. Moreover, the discourse “global” sometimes has a disturbing, violent undercurrent that intensifies inequality. We need to maintain our intellectual vigilance regarding such language, question the existing academic framework and what has been considered a common approach, and discuss every problem in a critical manner that includes self-reflection.

Walking the sites and having conversations
 Confronting today’s complicated and tangled situations is not an easy thing to do. One way to start with may be to walk, sometimes crawl, around the site related to your research theme - feeling with your five senses what is happening there and what people who inhabit that area are thinking. Gradually, something new may become visible to you. Or perhaps the encounters there may create fresh possibilities elsewhere.

 In this era of increasing division, isolation and anxiety among societies and people the creation of new networks is an objective that we consider especially important.
The Graduate School of Global Studies offers various networking opportunities through classes, seminars, study groups, workshops, and the Association of Global Studies. The research and educational activities of the Global Resource Management Program (Program for Leading Graduate Schools) are led by the Graduate School of Global Studies, while some of the full-time faculty members of the American Studies Cluster of the Graduate School of Global Studies have a dual position at the Doshisha International Institute of American Studies to pursue research there. You can also participate in various events carried out by our graduate school’s faculty members at the Amami-Okinawa-Ryukyu Research Center; the Center for Feminist, Gender and Sexuality Studies; and the Center for Korean Studies. On occasion, it is also useful to get out of the campus and onto the streets of Kyoto city to participate in the activities of citizen-operated NGOs.
The experience of connecting and communicating with people in various fields will definitely be invaluable in your future career.

With attention, diligence, flexibility – and fun!
 What can Global Studies do in the face of the difficult and complicated situations of today? Learning is a process, sometimes one of trial and error, and we faculty members are fully engaged in this learning process, just as you will be. As learners, we are well aware that generating new ideas to overcome the aforementioned challenges is by no means simple or easy. Rather than jumping to conclusions (usually false ones), the important thing is to remain fully committed to our intellectual and activist endeavors, persevering with diligence and flexibility, believing that possibilities are open to us, and acting with wisdom and hope even when the grounds are slight.
Each faculty members will support you in your pursuit of solutions to these difficult challenges. Let’s have fun while doing so!

Osamu OTA
Dean, the Graduate School of Global Studies