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The Faculty of Literature & Social Sciences is currently composed of two departments: Human Sciences & Cultural Studies and Law, Economics & Public Policy. Both of these departments offer students a wide range of subjects in the varied fields of humanities and social sciences. The Faculty also contains the renowned Nasca, Visual Culture and Regional Social Studies research centres, at which students can gain hands-on experience in fast-moving state-of-the-art research. While there are no proposed changes to these research centres, nor to our Faculty’s core mission of providing high-quality education in the fields of humanities and social sciences, it is planned that the two departments will be reorganized into five programmes. This reorganization is an important component in the mission of Japanese national universities: ensuring that students studying in the provinces gain entry into the world of scholarship. With it, we will be offering additional classes aimed at producing humanities graduates capable of fulfilling the role that our modern society demands: self-starters with well-honed decision making abilities; speakers of foreign languages; computer-literate graduates au fait with surveying techniques and statistical analysis. The most important of our academic goals, however, is to create an atmosphere of lively discussion between student and teacher: an atmosphere where students can wrestle with a range of problems while being supported by university staff. It is my fervent hope that this reorganization, coupled with our high-level specialist staff, will enable the Faculty to both further enliven and intellectually deepen this discussion in the future.
Yamagata University was established in 1949 under the National School Establishment Law, with the integration of several old institutions of higher education in Yamagata Prefecture: the National Yamagata Higher School (est. 1920), Yamagata Prefectural Normal School (est. 1878), Yamagata Prefectural Youth Teachers School (est. 1922), Yonezawa Higher Technical School (est. 1910), and Yamagata Prefectural Agriculture and Forestry School (est. 1947). By this time, the first of these institutions, the National Yamagata Higher School, which was to provide the foundation of Yamagata University, had graduated more than 5,000 students of academic excellence selected from all over Japan.
The newly founded Yamagata University included the Faculty of Literature and Sciences (Bunri Gakubu) as the body in charge of liberal arts, as well as a Faculty of Education, Faculty of Medicine, Faculty of Engineering, and Faculty of Agriculture. Over 2,500 students graduated from the Faculty of Literature and Sciences into various walks of life. In 1967, it was split into three independent faculties: the Faculty of Literature and Sciences (Jinbun Gakubu), the Faculty of Sciences, and the Faculty of General Education. The Faculty of Literature and Social Sciences comprised two departments at its onset, the Department of Literature and the Department of Economics, while in 1980 a Department of Law was added. Recognizing the oncoming changes in the educational environment and a significant need for interdisciplinary studies, in 1996 these three departments were reorganized into two: Human Sciences & Cultural Studies and Public Policy & Social Studies. In 2006, the latter was reorganized as the Department of Law, Economics and Public Policy.
Currently 1,300 students are enrolled in the faculty with a fixed intake of 300 per year. In 1997 the faculty began to offer two graduate school courses, Social Systems and Cultural Systems, whose total current enrolment is 30.
Today, with 84 faculty and 17 office staff, the Faculty of Literature and Social Sciences offers wide coverage of the humanities and social sciences.