Division of Historical Studies

The purpose of historical study is to delve into our past to make sense of human cultures and societies in the context of their continuous change over time. The Division of Historical Studies is endeavoring to create a "new history" to help find answers to the problems society faces today. To achieve this goal, we must free ourselves from a traditional viewpoint that locks up history within national, culturar and religious boundaries. Instead, we seek to develop a structural understanding of world and global history based on an interdisciplinary approach.

Our curriculum is designed to achieve our aim of creating a new history in the field of education as well. We do not organize our curriculum by departments. Thus, students do not belong to individual departments, but are members of the Division of Historical Studies as a whole. This means that they can select and take courses that best suit their interests beyond department boundaries and create a curriculum of their own according to their needs.

Our comprehensive approach necessitates diversification of historical sources. Traditional history has heavily relied on manuscripts and printed sources while ignoring almost completely other types of materials. Such an approach has severely limited the possibilities of historical research. Our common task is to make the best use of different types of historical sources to come up with new insights into the past. The Division of Historical Studies consists of three departments, but the three departments each emphasize the use of different types of materials, and each department strives to achieve more sophisticated use of its main type of historical sources.

The program of the Department of Cultural Heritage emphasizes the analysis of such materials as archeological, ethnological and graphical sources. For achieving deeper understanding, students have oppotunities to participate in field work programs including excavation at historical sites and training for curator work in regional and nation-wide museums. The Department of Images and Documents is endeavoring to create a new frontier of historical studies, focusing on "images" in visual arts and iconological materials. Insights offered by image studies allow us to understand deeper meanings in historical context, going beyond conventional perspectives. The goal of the Department of History is to create a new multi-layered history that combines micro-history with global history. The members of the department cover Africa, the Middle East, Central and Eastern Europe, China, Japan, Korea, and the United States, employing a wide range of methodological concepts such as nationalism, race, gender and ethnicity.