Faculty of Social and Information Studies
Social and information studies can be explained as an interdisciplinary field geared to understanding the totality of information phenomena in society and to the theoretical and empirical explication of its characteristics. This describes the fundamental idea behind the Faculty of Social and Information Studies (FSIS). The target of our studies is this “totality of information phenomena in society” and our identity within the university is defined by our pursuit of that totality.
Interest in information phenomena is by no means new, and we have to be aware of all the research that has previously been conducted in this field. The dissemination of computers and other information-processing systems is relatively recent, but that is just one small part of this field. The discipline of social and information studies is broad and deep, its grand scope encompassing the paradigms even of philosophy and the life sciences.
One other feature of FSIS is its tradition of valuing the perspectives of the humanities, social studies, and environmental studies. While offering advanced education on a par with that of such traditional fields, FSIS addresses the issues of “the totality of information phenomena in society.” Covering all that there is to learn in this field is an ambitious endeavor, but that scope is a fitting measure of the faculty’s potential for future growth.
In its curriculum, the FSIS also stresses the importance of overseas experience. We have partnership arrangements with numerous overseas universities, and many students go abroad for study each year. Arrangements with these partner universities for mutual acceptance of credits make it possible for students to complete their studies within the designated four-year period even while spending one year studying abroad. Another feature of the faculty is its courses that focus on training to prepare students for their future in the job market, and we provide lectures in association with various companies and organizations.
FSIS seeks to provide an environment that fosters promising students with a global perspective who are equipped to respond to the work-related challenges they will encounter in an ever-changing society. Social problems are complex and multi-faceted by nature, and cannot be solved by haphazard or stopgap measures. FSIS strives to instill knowledge that will enable its graduates to respond intelligently through deepened understanding of problems from the perspective of information.
Features of the Faculty of Social and Information Studies
- FSIS Common Courses:
Students acquire a thorough understanding of the basics through core courses and courses in research skills.
- The “Direction” System
After enrollment, students choose one of three “directions” (administration and law, media and culture, economics and management) corresponding to the career to which they aspire, guiding the advance of their studies in that direction.
- Problem-Solving Courses (Project-based Learning):
A number of courses adopt the approach of assigning students projects that involve problem-solving through individual effort rather than simply listening to lectures in the classroom.
- Data Analysis Program:
This program gives students the opportunity for intensive study of research skills, equipping them for data analysis and other skills in demand in our era of “Big Data.”
Project-based Learning Courses:
In “project-based learning,” students solve practical problems in groups. This approach helps students develop various skills including identifying problems and devising solutions, critical thinking, initiative, planning, team management, and collaboration.
- “Direction”-oriented Project Courses:
These courses utilize problem solving on contemporary issues in accordance with the students’ chosen “directions.” For example, one course focuses on the changes taking place in the information industry (e.g., innovation in the information industry).
- Cross-“Direction” Project Courses:
These courses take up contemporary issues that straddle more than one of the “directions” (e.g., one course is focused on privacy protection in the realm of modern social media).
Data Analysis Program (elective)
This program is offered for students interested in data analysis, in order to teach them the fundamentals of analyzing the large quantities of data that flood the advanced information society. The program trains people who can not only utilize data analyzing skills but also detect the kinds of problems that require analysis.
Whichever the “direction” of students’ coursework at the University, they can benefit from this program’s intensive opportunity to learn about research methods, data analysis techniques, and data processing skills.
Liberal Arts Courses
Gunma University offers courses on Major subjects specific to each faculty, as well as Liberal Arts subjects that are taught to all students. Students must earn a certain number of credits in the Liberal Arts subjects in order to graduate. There are quite a few subjects that students are expected to take at an early stage, so during the first year, a large proportion of courses are in the Liberal Arts curriculum.
The Liberal Arts subjects that FSIS students take are predominantly fundamental or introductory courses taken by all students at the university, called “University-wide Courses”. These courses are divided into so-called “Core Courses”, such as Academic Literacy, English, Health and Sports, and “General Courses” that focus on providing a deep understanding of a wide range of subjects, while fostering students’ capacity for well-rounded judgment and helping them to build character. Since students from different faculties come together in these classes, they have a chance to come into contact with a wide range of perspectives.
FSIS Common Courses
All students of the FSIS are obliged to take the following courses of the common curriculum: core courses, research-skills courses and communication skill courses. These common courses are central among FSIS specialty courses. These courses start with the first year, and from the second year become even more advanced.
FSIS Core Courses (including media courses, communication courses, information courses)
Students learn ways of thinking that will help their studies in the field of social information.
Research Skill Courses (research methodology courses, data analysis courses and data processing courses)
Students learn about scientific thinking, and practical methods of accessing, processing and analyzing data.
Communication Courses (foreign language courses and presentation courses)
Students learn to communicate in a foreign language, and to present their knowledge of a subject in a comprehensible way.
From the second year onwards, students focus on subjects in a certain area of specialization. In accordance with their aspirations, they choose one “direction” from the following three: administration and law, media and culture, or economics and management. Students then proceed to take six credits of courses belonging to their chosen specialty. Referring to prepared models of study for their “direction,” they also choose from a selection of elective courses. With courses assembled in this fashion, they pursue their studies at FSIS.
Taking into consideration the wide range of aspirations students may have, the FSIS provides three “directions” of specialization (administration and law, media and culture, economics and management) that help them to attain specialized knowledge to realize those aspirations. The “directions” provide a flexible framework within which students can naturally develop understanding in their chosen field.
In the first year, students select the direction they wish to pursue in their studies. In the second year they take six required courses associated with their chosen direction, with additional elective courses provided for each direction.
Administration and Law Direction:
(Public Administration, Theory of Public Policy, Administrative Law, Political Analysis, Local Administration, etc.)
This direction suits students aspiring to careers in local administration, legal affairs departments of corporations, non-profit or non-governmental organizations, survey and research-related fields, etc.
Media and Culture Direction:
(Theoretical Sociology, Social Psychology, Social Communication Theory, Theory of Intercultural Communication, etc.)
This specialization suits students aspiring to careers in the mass media or the media industry in general, corporate PR, design, analysis-related fields, etc.
Economics and Management Direction:
(Accounting Studies, Management Studies, Management Science, Management Information Studies, Management Organization Theory, etc.)
This direction suits students aspiring to careers in corporate planning and research fields, etc.
Special Cooperation Classes
These classes are held in cooperation with professionals at the forefront of the corporate world.
By making arrangements with the departments of organizations related to the information industry, mass media, finance, local enterprises and other places of employment highly sought after by our students, we provide courses that offer practical knowledge regarding their future career options.
Social and Information Studies Seminars
In continuation from the second year, third year studies also offer various specialized courses, with the biggest change being the addition of seminars. All seminars offer special activities year-round that vary greatly with the objectives set by the teacher in charge.
The norm for seminars varies in accordance with the teacher. In some seminars, after reading assigned texts followed by explanation by the teacher, members engage in discussion regarding the read topic. In other seminars, each week students are given topics to research and prepare presentations on, followed by discussion among seminar members. In still others, students sometimes have extracurricular activities, as well as seminar trips and volunteer activities that help them gain a better understanding of their particular area of expertise. There may also be a combination of the seminar activities described above. Moreover, with some seminars focusing on the local environment, local activities have become an integral part of seminars as well. Students of one seminar enthusiastically participate in volunteer activities to assist in reconstruction following the Tohoku disaster of 2011.
In their fourth year the students—based on their personal interests or issues in which they are concerned—conduct research that integrates the results of their four years of study at the University. Building on the knowledge and skills they have acquired since enrollment, they complete this research on their own initiative and present it to their fellow students and teachers.
 Nishigaki Tōru and Itō Mamoru, eds. Yoku wakaru shakai jōhōgaku [Social and Information Studies in Plain Language]. Tokyo: Minerva Shobō, 2015.