History of School of Letters

history The forerunner of Osaka University School of Letters, as well as the Graduate School of Letters, was Kaitokudo, a private school established in 1724 by wealthy merchants of Osaka. For nearly 150 years until the end of the Edo Period (1603 - 1868), Kaitokudo produced a lot outstanding talents.

The origin of the School of Letters, Osaka University under the modern tertiary education system was the Faculty of Law and Letters of Osaka Imperial University, which was established in 1948, comprising three divisions: Literature, Law and Economics. In the following year (1949), the School of Letters became an independent faculty. The new school featured three divisions: Philosophy, History and Literature. Under these divisions, a total of 14 faculty departments were established. In 1952, with the establishment of the Division of Education, the School of Letters became composed of four divisions and a total of 19 faculty departments.

Establishing Unique Departments

In the mid-1960's, a new vision emerged: to separate the nine faculty departments in psychology, sociology and education from the School of Letters, and establish a new school. In 1972, a new School of Human Sciences was established, to which those nine faculty departments were transferred. In response, the School of Letters began considering establishment of new faculty departments as well as enriching the programmes of existing faculty departments. In 1973, the School of Letters established the Division of Aesthetics, the only department of its kind in Japan's national universities. In 1986, the Division of Japanese Studies was established as a counterpart of the Division of Japanese Studies established in the Graduate School in 1974. As a result, the School of Letters has grown into a full-fledged organization comprising five divisions, 16 major programmes and 32 faculty departments.

More Recent Developments

In 1995, the School of Letters reorganized its structure, merging the five divisions into one: the Humanities. Under this new system, the 32 faculty departments were reorganized into 11 larger departments, namely Philosophy, Japanese History, World History, Archaeology, Japanese and Asian Literature, Western Literature and Languages, Art, Art History, Japanese Studies, Human Geography and Japanese Linguistics. In tandem with this reorganization, the faculty adopted a strategy to put more emphasis on research and education in the graduate school, which the 20 undergraduate programmes would also benefit. This reform took two years from 1998 to 1999.

History of Graduate School of Letters

The forerunner of Osaka University Graduate School of Letters was also Kaitokudo, a private school in the Edo Period (1603-1868). The Graduate School of Letters under the modern tertiary education system, however, originated in 1948, when Osaka University established the Faculty of Law and Letters together with a graduate school which comprised Philosophy, Psychology, Sociology, Japanese History, Japanese Literature and English Literature divisions. In 1949, the School of Letters became an independent faculty and achieved a rapid development, increasing the number of faculty departments from seven to 19 by 1952. Meanwhile, as a result of changes in the educational system implemented by the Japanese government, the Graduate School of Letters made a fresh start in 1953 with the following eight divisions: Philosophy and History of Philosophy, Psychology, Sociology, Education, Japanese Literature, English Literature, German Literature and French Literature. Following the establishment of the History Division in 1955, the Graduate School began developing steadily, increasing the number of programmes in line with the increasing number of faculty departments in the School of Letters.

In 1972, with the establishment of the Graduate School of Human Sciences, the three divisions of Psychology, Sociology and Education were transferred from the Graduate School of Letters to the new graduate school. In response, the Graduate School of Letters established new Divisions of Arts (1973) and Japanese Studies (1974). Featuring these new divisions unique among Japanese national universities, the Graduate School of Letters has continuously produced fine researchers and teachers specialized in a variety of fields in humanities.

In 1999, under the new system that places priority on graduate school education, the Graduate School of Letters was reorganized into two major divisions: the Division of Studies on Cultural Forms and the Division of Studies on Cultural Expressions. Under these two divisions a total of 28 programmes were launched. This change was a part of a reform of tertiary education system that also involved the improvement of the academic degree system and the admission of students with diverse backgrounds, notably mature students with working experience. By this reorganization the Graduate School of Letters has paved the way for the new area of Japanese tertiary education. In 2002 a COE (Centre of Excellence) project jointly planned by the Graduate Schools of Letters, Language and Culture, and Human Sciences was afforded a five-year funding by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology.

The year 2007 saw the addition of a further Division of Studies on Cultural Dynamics, which offers four courses leading to a Master’s degree. This Division facilitates new interdisciplinary research into the many cultural issues resulting from rapid change in contemporary society that cannot be adequately addressed within the framework of conventional humanities programmes. It trains specialists in the basics of contemporary humanities and advanced language skills. This Division complements the two existing Divisions in teaching and research, to satisfy needs created by contemporary society.