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Message from the Dean

As the second decade of the 21st century draws to a close, the world is faced with a crisis situation at least on three fronts. There is first the crisis of global values such as democracy and citizenship. Both values have historically been developed in Europe and the United States; they were also thought to be achieved or achievable globally. However, populism appears to be gaining momentum in Europe and the United States as well as in other places. The climate thus created by distorted sense of nationalism and unilateralism has given rise to the growing trend toward the discrimination of minority groups and exclusion of immigrants.

Second, there is the wider issue of increasing socio-economic disparities among peoples in developed, emerging and developing countries. With market-oriented economy expanding globally, the emerging trend is toward the concentration of wealth in the hands of a few to the great disadvantage of those who are already financially marginalized. Furthermore, protectionism launched by the “America First” principle has caused a trade war between China and the United States and cast a shadow of uncertainty over the future of both emerging and developed economies including Japan.

Third, as global warming accelerates, with extreme weather becoming more recurrent phenomena, natural disasters have multiplied. The risk of submersion of some island states due to rising sea levels has significantly increased.

These are the challenges the world is confronting today. True, some of them have existed in the Cold War and the post-Cold War period. However, it is also true that they have acquired a new significance and urgency in recent years.

The perennial issues of war, conflict and terrorism are with us too; the proliferation of nuclear weapons and conventional arms race also remain. But even these problems exhibit today new complexities that manifest themselves in many ways. Furthermore, the linkage between the burgeoning ‘military-industrial complex’ and the free market economy has tended to prolong conflicts and civil wars around the world.

These global challenges are not just derived from region-specific problems but have multi-faceted causes that spread simultaneously across regions. In order to deepen our understanding of these problems, it is therefore not enough to have one academic discipline such as political science, sociology, economics, history, linguistics, literature, cultural anthropology, area studies and so forth. Academic disciplines that cut across humanities, the social sciences and area studies and are more integrated into inter-disciplinary approach are required. At the Graduate School of Global Studies, we utilize such an approach that is firmly anchored in relevant theories.

Create connectivity

Our Graduate School offers a variety of opportunities for interactions and making connections in classes, seminars, and workshops. We have the Global Studies Association as well. Our faculty members provide guidance and develop diverse activities in the Amami-Okinawa-Ryukyu Research Center, the Feminist Gender and Sexuality Research Center, the Korea Research Center, etc. These are places where graduate students, faculty members, and the general public meet. Moreover, graduate students have voluntarily started to organize a student council through which even more dialogues among fellow students and faculty members can take place. International exchanges can be made at our Graduate School on a daily basis since our students come from more than a dozen countries.

Think critically

Global issues stem from multiple sources. While each individual source must be analyzed systematically in its own right at a specific level of analysis, it is essential that a global perspective which can accommodate different units must be used. Only by thinking critically and by going beyond conventional ideas and approaches will we be able to unmask, for instance, the hidden agenda behind the discourse on globalization.

Walk the scene

Global issues are complicated and full of contradictions. If you think only with your head, therefore, you may get into the maze more and more; in order to get out of it and understand what is happening, it is necessary to walk on the spot where the research problem is located, where you may see something new.

Be bold, be flexible, and have fun

Global issues are not always easy to understand or resolve. In your research, therefore, have the courage to challenge established concepts and theories. Sometimes it may be necessary to think and act boldly. On the other hand, it will be important also to be patient at times and keep steady and listen to different points of view. That is how we may develop a new vision and wisdom in order to survive the global challenges of the 21st century. Let's have fun, too, talk to each other, and enjoy graduate school life together.

Dean, the Graduate School of Global Studies