The societies in which we live are composed of various mechanisms. Sociology offers a toolbox enabling us to see the type of mechanisms that are at work. Meiji Gakuin University’s Department of Sociology extends its students’ powers of flexible thought and creative imagination in small classes that encourage face-to-face interaction. Faculty members at the forefront of their fields provide guidance to each student in their approach to the issues they research.
The starting point of sociology is the multifaceted observation of diverse phenomena in the societies in which we live, including the connections between person and person and group and group and the nature of rules and media. Having realized an understanding of the dynamics between people and society, the graduate of the Department of Sociology has the capacity to flourish in a huge range of working scenarios.
Through an unbroken series of small seminar courses over a four-year period, beginning before they even start classes, students increase their reading, listening, research, and writing abilities. For example, in the Fundamentals of Sociology Seminar, students acquire knowledge through activities including playing the game Bibliobattle, studying how not to be taken in by statistics, interpreting the gender bias of magazines, and reading texts critically, developing a foundation in sociology for their university careers.
After studying the fundamentals of sociology in the first year, in the second year students select one of three courses upon which to focus their studies. Students are still able to take subjects in other courses, enabling them to broaden their perspectives by pursuing interests while focusing on a specialization.
The real joy of sociology lies in going into the field and identifying a problem, and applying knowledge obtained through observation and questioning. In courses related to social surveys and research, we proceed in stages in order to instill in students not only knowledge regarding social research, but also the skills and the approach necessary to conduct it. This culminates in a one-year social research workshop in which students engage in fieldwork based on themes they have selected, and untangle complexly interwoven facts in the writing of a research report.
The Seminar in Methods of Expression is a unique initiative within our curriculum. In this seminar, in addition to our full-time academic staff, students receive classes from guest lecturers from the worlds of broadcasting and publishing, and learn about expression in forms including image and text. Students also deepen their understanding by creating their own works.
The Department of Sociology offers abundant opportunities for students to talk with previous graduates and to participate in exchanges with students in different years. Students come together in the Specialized Readings course irrespective of their year. Overseas students from different years take the Japanese for Sociology course. In addition, in the third and fourth years, students and graduate students offer presentations in our Departmental Research Workshops.
Every year numerous students from the Department of Sociology earn qualifications as Social Researchers. These qualifications are useful in finding employment in areas such as marketing and opinion polls. In addition, by taking our teacher training course, students can acquire teaching licenses for junior high school (social studies) and senior high school (geography and history, and civics).
In their first year, students build a foundation in sociology. In the spring semester, students take the Academic Literacy Seminar and the lecture course Sociology 1, and in the fall semester they take the Foundation Seminar in Sociology. In tandem with these seminars, they take the lecture courses Foundations of Social Research and Sociology 2. In the second year, the program divides into three courses. In the spring semester, students take the Course Seminars for the course that they have selected, and in the fall semester they take the Seminar in Methods of Expression or Qualitative Data Analysis. At the same time, they choose lecture courses and other activities that fit with their own interests, and they develop their skills in expression, their analytic skills, and other skills in ways that suit them as individuals.
Building on the abilities cultivated in the first and second years, third- and fourth-year students select Seminar 1 and Seminar 2, enabling them to explore specialized subjects in accordance with their specific interests. Students are also able to take the Social Research Workshop separately from their seminar work. In this workshop, students engage in social research, from the planning of the project, through implementation and the writing of research reports. In the fourth year, students apply the experience and results they have achieved in seminars and workshops to the completion of graduate theses as the culmination of their university lives.
Graduates of the Department of Sociology find employment in a wide variety of fields, for example in areas including finance, services and manufacturing, in mass media positions in fields including publishing, broadcasting and communications, as government employees, as educators, and in companies involved in medical care or welfare, etc. Today, social systems are highly advanced, and it is difficult to draw a clear future image of either companies or students. Against this background, Sociology graduates display the ability to intuitively understand trends in terms of what is capturing people’s attention, to gather information that will enable a grasp of future directions, and to present solutions.