Greetings from the Director
Ritsumeikan University established the Institute of International Relations and Area Studies (IIRAS) in 1989, aiming to promote the fusion of International Studies and Area Studies. Such a vision was, and still is, quite challenging because these two studies are quite different in approaches.
International Studies tackle with various ‘international’ problems and phenomena such as war and peace, international trade, and refugee issues. These problems could not easily be settled by an individual country. To solve these problems, students of International Studies think about how to promote international cooperation. On the other hand, students of Areas Studies are generally more interested in ‘reinventing’ uniqueness of a society they are observing, rather than thinking about ‘international’ issues and universal values.
At first glance, International Studies and Area Studies seems to be working together in various academic associations as well as in educational institutions. However, the relationship between International Studies and Area Studies has been, at best, not harmonious and, at worst, in conflict. Cooperation and interaction, or even communication, between the two have been quite limited.
As globalization deepens, the number of global issues increases drastically. To tackle with such global issues, it is indispensable to promote international cooperation. In addition, it is essential to implement local measures suited to individual local contexts to supplement international cooperation. This is why the collaboration between International Studies and Area Studies are essential to solve global issues.
The mission of our Institute is to get the two studies engaged as an academic paradigm of the 21st century. All of our previous directors have respected the value of fusing International Studies and Area Studies providing a place for the dialogue between the two. As the Director of IIRAS, my mission is to facilitate and deepen the dialogue and to promote the fusion between the two studies further in order to better tackle with ever-increasing global issues in the 21st century.
Director of Institute of International Relations and Area Studies