Invitation to the Faculty of Intercultural Studies

The three Features of the Faculty of Intercultural Studies

1 A deep understanding of different cultures through a new academic curriculum focusing on in-depth education with small class sizes.

Currently (as of March, 2012) there are 69 fulltime educators within the Faculty of Intercultural Studies. The capacity of the 1st year is 140 students, which equates to an educator to student ratio of approximately 1:2. A focus on in-depth education, low student to teacher ratios, and a new curriculum that overcomes the strictures of traditional learning enables us to provide our students with an education that innovatively addresses the problems of a modern society in which globalization is a key dynamic.

Abundant Opportunities for New Interactions

Rina Kurihara
(Majoring in Intercultural Communication – Class 15)

From the time I was in high school, I had a goal of meeting and communicating with people from around the world. Within this department, there are many opportunities for cultural interactions. Class-work and presentations are often group work accomplished by teams comprised of exchange students and Japanese students. The ensuing discussions are often a mix of English and Japanese. There is also a mentoring system in our department for exchange students. Mentors help exchange students with the necessary procedures upon arrival in Japan and also plan parties. I am particularly impressed with the abundant opportunities to mingle and exchange opinions with students from different countries and different environments. The opportunities for participation in discussion circles, student symposiums, and internships at international exchange organizations far exceed what I had imagined prior to matriculation. While culture shock is a common reaction when faced with stark differences in values and customs, I now find myself relishing these opportunities to be “shocked.”

Motivated by the exchange students I met within the Department of Intercultural Studies, I utilized the exchange program for a 3-year exchange to the University of Nice in France. I experienced some difficulty adjusting to a bewildering lifestyle in France that proved to be so different. Luckily, I was surrounded by fellow exchange students who were also participating in the program from the Americas, Asia, and Europe, and we were all able to share similar difficulties with each other. Because of these friends, I was able to have a relatively meaningful experience without becoming depressed. I once traveled to visit a friend that was also an exchange student at Kobe University. This friend, whom I had not seen for such a long time, really treated me well. We went sightseeing and had a really good time. Because of this, I sincerely felt that studying at the Department of Intercultural Studies was a good decision. Otherwise, I surely would not have had such valuable interactions and experiences.

Even though I graduate 1 year later due to my study abroad, I do not think this will be detrimental when I enter the job market. I plan to utilize the experiences I have gained at the Department of Intercultural Studies after graduation. I encourage new students entering the program to stick with your dreams and rise up to the new challenges that you are sure to face.

 

Acquiring a “Multicultural Mindset”

Shohei Shimizu
(Majoring in Contemporary Culture and Society – Class 17)

Contemporary Culture and Society is comprised of three courses: Modernity Studies, Contemporary Social Issues, and Art Culture and Society Studies.
These three courses combine to deliver a coherent curriculum that allows students to discover current realities as well as develop a critical approach toward modern culture with a global perspective through studying the writings of classical and contemporary thinkers.

I am currently attending the Ogasawara seminar within the Contemporary Social Issues course. A poster introduces the academic content of the seminar with the words “The Culture of Media.” This seminar embodies the department’s focus of understanding culture by crossing interdisciplinary boundaries through approaching media and material that actually symbolizes something from a free and multidirectional perspective. Professors from other universities are invited to participate in discussions focusing on the theme of “Pirates,” which have recently been creating havoc on the high seas. These subjects may initially cause one to wonder about the relationship with media, but it is media – especially in how it relates to contemporary societal problems – that makes this course of study interesting.

In our weekly seminar, we have been studying “Representation” by cultural researcher Stuart Hall. This has enabled us to reflect on the hidden nature of media from various disciplinary perspectives such as cultural anthropology, sociology, social thought, and literature.

It has been said that the overriding theme of the Contemporary Culture and Society course of study is a difficult one in that there are no answers.
This course of study provides for a diversity of perspectives and approaches. Hence, there is no clear right or wrong solution among the myriad ideas and observations that are proposed.

The guarantee of a diversity of perspectives and approaches is what makes this an interesting course of study.

The Contemporary Culture and Society course of study invites students who desire to understand contemporary society to discover the world by reaching beyond the limited societal view of Japan and by eagerly researching the hidden problems of contemporary society using the writings of our predecessors as signposts.

 

2 Vibrant Intercultural Exchange through Diverse Language Education

An understanding of other cultures begins with familiarity with the lifestyle and culture of people living in other societies through local experiences such as traveling and study abroad. Toward this end, the Department of Intercultural Studies sponsors diverse language courses and study abroad programs at 45 overseas universities. Many of these international exchange agreements are forged by the department alone and make up a foreign education exchange system that is only available for students from the Department of Intercultural Studies. The Department of Intercultural Studies is the department within Kobe University dedicated to vibrant intercultural exchanges through study abroad and actual experience of different cultures.

My Experience in Italy

Yuka Mizushima
(Majoring in Area Studies – Class 14)

I studied for 6 months in at the University of Bologna in Italy, even though I am majoring in American Studies. My motivation was fourfold: take advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to participate in an economically feasible exchange program; improve the ability to express myself through living in a different country and environment; take advantage of the opportunity to learn a language other than English; and a simple fascination with the openness of Italian culture.

Upon arrival, I joined the department of interpreting and translation and took classes in English to Italian translation as well as Italian classes targeted at foreign students. Although the English level of my classmates was very high and I struggled to keep up in my classes, my friends shared their notes and the professor took time to correct my translations on an individual basis. With this help, I continued my study of Italian and English. Exchange programs are quite popular in Europe and I was able to interact with students from many countries. There was a gathering place for the exchange students in my neighborhood called “My friends are your friends” and I had the opportunity to increase my friendships with people of diverse nationalities.

During summer vacation I travelled within Italy and abroad. I travelled around Southern Italy while visiting the homes of different friends. I also visited a friend from Japan who was studying abroad in a neighboring country. I travelled through Spain and even visited the African continent where I was able to become proficient in Mediterranean history and culture.

Living and travelling in Italy presented more inconveniences than life in Japan, but it was also an opportunity to rid myself of useless fixations that I had acquired in Japan, such as insistence on using a certain brand of shampoo. I became more tolerant and acquired simple values. Also, because I was the only Japanese person in my entire neighborhood, I was able to become less reliant on people (in a good way), and felt the sense of accomplishment of creating my own life and building relationships with people from scratch. I think I enjoyed most being able to have people treat me not as a Japanese person, but as an individual person named Yuka. This also motivated me to treat others without prejudice.

The Department of Intercultural Studies is an environment in which you can freely assimilate into different cultures with lots of interesting, weird, and wonderful people with diverse values. Mistakes or regrets can be redressed later on in life. Try acting according to your own goals and objectives.

 

3 An Advanced Information Processing Education within the Liberal Arts

With rapid strides being made in the globalization of information, economics, and politics, an ability in advanced information communication is a requirement of our modern society in both the sciences and the liberal arts. The Department of Intercultural Studies features a fulltime faculty in the field of IT communications with broad experience in the education of liberal arts students. This faculty provides a high level of information processing education at an early stage. Students further their ability to use computers as the tools necessary for intercultural communication and understanding through classes in document creation, spreadsheets, graphics, HTML, and data processing.

Understanding Culture through Information Processing

Kikuya Taro
(Majoring in Computers and Communications – Class 16)

Perhaps you doubt why liberal arts students need to study scientific work such as information processing. The question itself is nonsense. The reason is because our current society is one in which large amounts of information play a significant role regardless of whether you study sciences or liberal arts. Information processing techniques are necessary skills for getting along in our modern world.

Students of liberal arts are surely aware of the necessity of studying information processing. No matter how much IT progresses, it is the people who use the technologies. Whether it be the iPhone or the ICOCA, people are the users. We are the ones using IT for communication. We have reached a point where the involvement of IT with humanity must be considered. Herein lies the significance of information processing education for liberal arts students.

Allow me to introduce the types of classes and seminars that we are taking. First is the programming seminar. In this seminar we use the programming language PHP to create a bulletin board on the internet. Next is the seminar on assembling a personal computer. In this seminar, we actually build a desktop computer through hands-on assembly and wiring of the CPU, HDD, and motherboard. As you read this, you may think that this is impossible without specialized knowledge. Nothing could be further from the truth. This is a seminar to learn all about this. It is a seminar to make us consider our involvement with information through proper understanding. The purpose of this department is not to teach techniques for processing information. I believe the purpose is to use IT to understand the culture that precedes the technology.

The Department of Intercultural Studies is a department with a broad academic scope. It is international and interdisciplinary. Don’t you feel that it is a waste to restrict the study of information technology to the sciences? More simply, don’t you think it is wonderful to be able to gain familiarity with IT even in a liberal arts department?

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