By Tomoko Takahashi
New Perspectives from Around the Globe
Every single thing you encounter in your life may well affect your ‘View of the World’, and one step into the KOMCEE 21 Lecture Hall on Monday 2nd period will bring you a new perspective with a diversity of ‘World Histories’ around the globe. “Sekaishi no Sekaishi” (‘the World History of “World History”’) is held as a ‘Gakujutsu Fukan’ course, where several professors take turns giving lectures in an attempt to show us the overall picture of a theme. This course is hosted by Professor Masashi Haneda (Previous Director of Institute for Advanced Studies on Asia, an institute of the University of Tokyo), and his ultimate goal is to ponder over how ‘World History’ can contribute toward having people respect, share and hopefully transcend different ‘Views of the World’, thus making it easier to work together on increasingly globalizing issues.
The primary target audience is freshmen and sophomores on Komaba Campus, a lot of whom had just experienced studying ‘Sekaishi’ (usually translated as ‘World History’), a typical examination subject for high school students in Japan. Studying ‘Sekaishi’ for examinations means no matter how many views there may be we have to learn and memorize the details on the textbooks authorized by the Ministry of Education. But come to think of it, do high school students all over the world learn this so-called ‘World History’? The answer is no, and even the word ‘World History’ has various meanings.
So far in this course, Professor Haneda has given us three profound questions; what is ‘World History’, who writes ‘World History’, and why do we learn ‘World History’? This leads us to another big question－what value do we see in ‘History’ itself? The way one lives is something deeply related to the way one sees the world, which is clearly reflected on the way one regards ‘World History’. Associate Professor Ryuto Shimada from the Faculty of Letters says some people regard ‘World History’ as a tool through which we find ‘truth’, while others suggest it teaches us a lesson from the past－just as the proverb goes: “History has a strange way of repeating itself.” While thinking how ‘World History’ could be understood in our rapidly changing times, what we can say for sure is that there are countless opinions.
Professor Haneda suggests that we can share ‘Views of the World’ when we “face other people one by one”, trying to establish a relationship of mutual trust with every single person. Komaba Campus has welcomed many foreign students this fall, opening its door wide to greet new perspectives. This is the time when we can try to “face people with different backgrounds one by one”. Let’s not just stick to the same perspective－something you have always taken for granted will suddenly change into an exception, and something unusual into a norm. It is always good to see things yourself, and is often the case that your views may be overturned in the most unexpected moment.
*Course website URL : http://www.gfk.c.u-tokyo.ac.jp/inSession/inSessionTop.html