Message from the Dean

Chiba Toshiyuki

Dean, School of International and Area Studies

Chiba Toshiyuki

“The man who finds his homeland sweet is still a tender beginner; he to whom every soil is as his native one is already strong; but he is perfect to whom the entire world is as a foreign land.”

Hugh of Saint Victor, Didascalicon

Study at university—in other words, the pursuit of learning—is much like wandering the world as a stranger, as beautifully described by the learned 12th century priest Hugh of Saint Victor.

The mission shared by academic departments taking the title of international and area studies is to leverage the analytical skills refined by multiple disciplines and the knowledge built up from scholar to scholar to rapidly and precisely grasp the nature of daily developments around the globe and point the way toward a solution. At the same time, correctly interpreting events occurring in numerous locations across a wide world is no easy task. The broader the subject, the more simplified our understanding tends to become.

I have absorbed several critical lessons from daily interaction with my seniors in my time at TUFS—not to engage in dichotomous thinking (seeing things in terms of good and bad, black and white); not to laud revolution in all its promise without also noting the violence and exclusivity attendant upon it; and to regard the history of the winners with a critical eye while reinstating the history of the losers. It seems to me that these convictions have been passed on through a vast number of teachers, students, and staff members over the university’s 150-year history. It is a precious talent granted to we humans as finite beings that we can keep alive the beliefs and aspirations of our predecessors.

The TUFS School of International and Area Studies prizes empathy with those who live like hardy little wildflowers in the fields of the world, the courage to reach out to such individuals, coexistence between a whole rainbow of individuals in the vast space between black and white, and the creation of new value that such a space engenders. Because these qualities rely on the strength to listen humbly to the voices of small societies around the world, our university positions education in the native languages of their lands and an understanding of the history that has accumulated there as the unshakeable foundation of university education. Whether you are tackling international affairs as your specialist subject, observing and analyzing the past and present of local communities, or investigating the diverse challenges faced by modern society, you will all start from this same base. Former principal Kanda Naibu chose a torch and “L” as the first letter of the Latin word “lingua,”, meaning “language,” for our crest, and the university remains unwavering in the belief that language is the light that illuminates the world.

In The Mystic Ark, the German-born, Paris-educated Hugh of Saint Victor provides a blueprint for drawing on a blank page an image of Noah’s Ark symbolizing the world. It teaches that the world is full of meaning, with the university a place for learning the art of interpreting the world. Every year, many students set sail for the world in our own “Noah’s Ark” of the TUFS Research and Lecture Building, while many others cast anchor here. TUFS is a port for the international community. Both here on our campus with its bustling international traffic, and out in the world to which you will voyage, I urge you to sharpen your senses and passionately pursue the meaning and value of human diversity.

Source: Hugh of Saint Victor, The Didascalicon of Hugh of Saint Victor: A Medieval Guide to the Arts, translated from the Latin with an introduction and notes by Jerome Taylor (New York: Columbia University Press, 1961).