Graduate School of Arts and Letters, Tohoku University

Division of Human Studies

The division of Human Science is divided into six specializations. These specialties investigate human behavior and social and cultural systems and sometimes extend into the fields of natural sciences as wel as other are as of social sciences. The Science, Technology and Society specialty holds joint lectures in collaboration with the Center for Northeast Asian Studies.

Human Sciences
Behavioral ScienceBehavioral Science
Human Culture Cultural Anthropology
Science of Religions
Science, Technology and SocietyScience, Technology and Society


As urbanization, computerization, and globalization progress, contemporary society is becoming increasingly complex. Sociology is the study of the structure and process of contemporary society. Sociology consists of both theoretical study and empirical study. Our department focuses on both of these aspects. In our theoretical studies, we have attempted to elucidate society based on the theories of T. Parsons, J. Habermas, and N. Luhmann, who are representative of sociologists in 20th century. In our empirical studies, we have conducted research on contemporary society from various aspects such as local communities,environments, medical care, social welfare, and information.

Further studies of society from a broad perspective and through active involvement in social problems will be required for the progress of society in 21st century. We seek a person with such intellectual interests and motivations. Japanese-language speaking ability will be required in order to study effectively in our department.

Behavioral Science

We analyze human behavior and social phenomena from a coherent viewpoint of the micro- macro linkages. We assume that while decision-making of individuals at the micro level is affected by society, such decision-making aggregates to social phenomena at the macro level.To analyze such complex micro-macro linkages, we adopt mathematical methods and statistical methods. The former refers to building mathematical models of human and / or organizational behavior and explaining social phenomena by analyzing the models. The latter refers to conducting social surveys, collecting data, and analyzing them.

Our department specializes in various fields: environmental problems, social change, the study of trust, social stratification, gender study, and the study of justice, to name a few. All of us, however, apply mathematical and statistical methods to these themes. Being conscious of such precise methods is one of the most salient features of behavioral science.

We welcome those who are ambitious and full of academic curiosity. Although members of our department speak English, a good command of Japanese is preferable because courses are given in Japanese.


The faculty and graduate students at the Psychology Department are actively involved in academic study across a great variety of research areas in Psychology. The programs in the Department are partly open to both undergraduates and graduates and are as follows (including courses given in the past) :

- Aggression / Conflict- Clinical
- Cognition- Criminal
- Cultural- Emotion and Motivation
- Experimental- Music
- Physiological- Sensation and Perception
- Social

The Department recommends that its majors take a broad selection of psychology courses and electives to ensure a fruitful introduction to the science. In addition, all majors should include some course work involving experiments in their programs and are encouraged to participate in the research activities of the Department. Students planning to major in psychology are advised to secure a background in the basic relevant sciences such as Biology, Informatics, Philosophy, Sociology and Statistics, preferably until the second year of university or college.

At present, all these programs are, in principle, carried out in Japanese, though English textbooks are often used: A high level of proficiency in Japanese will be helpful, but is not a formal prerequisite.

Cultural Anthropology

Cultural anthropology is a study of "culture" in the broadest sense of the term.Anthropologists regard culture as a total way of life of a people or a group. Accordingly,anthropological study of culture ranges from dietary patterns to religious beliefs, family and community to nation-state and transnational organization, from intimate touching to electronic communication. In short, cultural anthropology studies all aspects of human behavior and thought.

Cultural Anthropology developed as a discipline that study "other" cultures. Anthropologists left their home and visited "exotic" places, stayed there for prolonged period of time learning the language and the way of life in foreign cultures. This is called fieldwork and is the hallmark of culture anthropology. Now, however, in the age of modernization and globalization, anthropologists work both "at home" studying their own cultures and "abroad " studying other cultures. Anthropologists today also explore the lives of transnational migrants and of internationalized corporate executives. The subjects and topics of anthropological inquiry have changed as the world itself has transformed but fieldwork remains the standard method of anthropological investigation. Anthropologists visit, observe and listen to people in a family dining room or in a corporate board room, in a rural village or in an urban neighborhood.Finally, cultural anthropology aims at comparative analysis of culture across time and space to understand both the unity and diversity of humanity.

Foreign students interested in studying Japanese culture and society through active participation in the everyday life of the Japanese are welcome to join the cultural anthropology program. They will be able to learn the basic skills of fieldwork and fundamental theories of culture in our program and will become competent in first-hand study of the Japanese way of life. Foreign graduate students who wish to pursue advanced degrees in cultural anthropology or those who have concrete plans to conduct anthropological fieldwork in Japan may also apply to our program. Fluency in Japanese language, however, is a prerequisite for all foreign students.

Science of Religion

The Science of Religion aims at the scientific study of religious phenomena which are found to transcend both time and geography. Or rather, it may be said that the Science of Religion is a "detailed study of humanity" leading to a fuller comprehension of religion itself. Our department has come to place importance on religious research which aims towards an integration of the "hands on" research typical of cultural anthropology, folklore studies, sociology, and psychology, while at the same time embracing "theory" based on research of philosophy, and phenomenology. It was with this purpose in mind that a curriculum, not limited strictly to the textbook study of the classroom, was created in which relative importance is applied to practical exercise based firmly in fieldwork. Keeping this in mind and noting the difficulty of fully comprehending any religious phenomena when viewed from afar,an earnest attempt is made to come face to face with "living" religious belief wherever it is found. Moreover, in addition to the traditionally recognized data collection methods, our department aims to establish a " Visual Religiology" as a practical method of research with merits to be applied towards documenting actual "living" religion.

Presently, the department of the Science of Religion happily enjoys an overt international profile. Our professor's assistant, who is a graduate of our department, is from the People's Republic of China. Additionally, studying alongside our Japanese students are exchange students from the U.S.A., Finland, and Indonesia. Of course, if Japanese religious phenomena are taken up as research topics, a certain degree of Japanese language ability is required.

Science, Technology and Society

The purpose of this course is to study the historical process of the fundamentals of science and technology and the problems of technology have been formed. Recent economic development in Asia has encouraged us to place our emphasis here. We investigate by examining the science and technology which has been accepted or developed in a particular region and compare this with similar developments in other regions including Europe and America. Various facets of the problems facing contemporary technology, especially environmental / energy issues and technology transfer / diffusion are also pursued.

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Graduate School/Faculty of Arts and Letters
Tohoku University
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