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Colloquia Reports

January 22, 2020

The 151st

"The Humanities and the Sciences—The Problem of "Two Cultures" from a 21st Century Perspective"
January 22, 2020 at Courtyard by Marriott Tokyo Ginza Hotel

When discussing academic disciplines, the long-established organization of the disciplines into "humanities" and "sciences" has very often led to divisions in knowledge. In recent years, research activities reaching across academic fields are very often described as "interdisciplinary." A researcher in the history of science and technology, Dr. Oki looked back from the middle ages to the modern age when the classification into the three fields of natural sciences (physics, chemistry, biology, etc.,) humanities (literature, philosophy, etc.,) and social sciences (law, economics, sociology, etc.) was conceived. In the course of her presentation of the changes that took place within the academic discipline system, she pointed out that in the 20th century, the birth of the term "scientist" resulting from the growing specialization in the natural sciences, the wide variances in the ratio of women depending on the discipline, and policy-oriented investment in the natural sciences and technology led to reinforcement of the divisions between disciplines. She went on further to state that, with the global shift in research and innovation policies in the humanities and social sciences and growing demand to utilize such research achievements in society, “interdisciplinary research would go beyond the humanities and sciences in the future; however, we should not forget they had their respective and distinctive missions, i.e., the natural sciences aimed at the accurate assessment of nature including our planet and the universe, and the humanities and social sciences focused on the pursuit of answers to the betterment of human lives."

Dr. Sayaka Oki
Professor, Graduate School of Economics, Nagoya University

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