About us

The Institute for the Study of Global Issues was founded in 1997, becoming the world’s first graduate program in global studies.


We believe that the issues facing the contemporary world need to be understood from a global perspective and with global ideas. Conflicts and new kinds of wars that continually flare up; poverty and development in the Global South; poverty in rich countries; the exploitation and conservation of the global environment; expanding information networks; people moving in search of safety and people moving in pursuit of a better life… gaps and disparities, clashing values, logics of power and ideals of co-existence.


At the Institute for the Study of Global Issues, we try to understand these issues as global problems, and to seek possible solutions while listening to the voices of those living through these often traumatic times. In order to do that we have to develop ideas and methods that cut across social science disciplines, and also span both the social and natural sciences.


Our Masters and PhD students build their research projects based on individual advice from our faculty. Students follow lecture courses offered in our curriculum, but depending on their needs they also attend lectures and seminars in the Institute for the Study of Social Sciences or in other graduate schools of Hitotsubashi. They are also encouraged to incorporate their outside activities into their research. We are open to all who want to engage with global issues.


The Challenge facing us


In the social sciences and humanities to date, both the topics to be studied and the conceptual frameworks to be used have been established in western countries and then adopted by researchers in other regions. In other words, there is a global intellectual hierarchy. In today’s globalizing world, this Eurocentric perspective is becoming more and more widely shared in all countries. Many researchers neither come from nor study the West but have been educated there. When they bring those Western intellectual norms back to their home countries, they reinforce the Eurocentric intellectual system. This further universalizes the analytical frameworks developed in the West, giving them an internationally privileged position in all areas of research.


This Eurocentric intellectual system has undeniably allowed researchers in non-Western countries to share common topics and approaches and encouraged dialogue on contemporary issues. However, we believe that researchers, while continuing to participate in the global exchange of ideas, need at the same time to maintain a critical stance towards the production of knowledge and information centered upon Western universities.


Applying this to education and research


Based on the above awareness, in our teaching and research we try to:


maintaining a critical stance


—resisting the temptation to analyze and understand research topics from a purely Eurocentric perspective—;


searching for alternatives


—trying to incorporate non-Western perspectives into our choice of research topics, frameworks and methods—;


telling the world


—communicating our research interests in a persuasive way, thereby building a foundation for joint research.




We therefore have three principals in our teaching and research:




Social science has followed a trajectory of splitting into different disciplines, each of which then pursues its own research agenda and develops its own methods. However, it is difficult to make sense of the various problems confronting the contemporary world from the standpoint of any single given discipline. Therefore we attempt the opposite approach: rather than looking at problems from the perspective of a single discipline, we attempt to grasp issues as a whole and to understand their complicated contexts. From there we formulate research questions for the various fields of social science, and construct frameworks within which solutions can be devised.




The world’s problems do not exist for the sake of social science. The mission for social science must be to work towards solving, or at least mitigating, those problems, while never forgetting the people who have to cope with them in their daily lives. We are interested in exploring solutions to real-world problems rather than advancing armchair theories.




The majority of the world’s population live a hybrid cultural existence, incorporating elements of Western culture into their indigenous or inherited cultures. In searching for solutions to issues confronting Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Latin America and other non-Western regions, we must be careful not to impose principles and ideas that may seem self-evident in a Western context. This is not easy for us, educated as we have been in the West or in institutions modeled on Western ones. However, we try to question the Eurocentric assumptions that underpin contemporary social science.


Based on these three principles, we aim to do research and teaching that contributes to improving people’s lives from four perspectives: security, sustainability, creativity and identity.

これらの基本方針のもとに、次の四点、1. Security(安心・安全) 2. Sustainability(持続可能性) 3. Creativity(創造性) 4. Identity(アイデンティティ) を研究と教育の中心におき、地球社会と人々の生活の質の向上を追求します。

wide range of visiting faculty


Visiting faculty from collaborating institutions


ISGI has formal collaboration agreements with Mitsubishi Research Institute, The Japan Foundation, Japan International Cooperation Agency, and The Japan Institute of International Affairs. Visiting faculty from these institutions give our graduate students insights into what is happening on the front line of operations and research in their respective fields. They can provide useful information about events and projects relevant to students’ research projects, as well as advice about careers.


Visiting faculty from overseas


Every year we welcome a visiting professor from overseas for a six- or twelve-month period. Teaching generally in English, these visiting faculty introduce theories, methods and insights from their research fields. They also provide students with the opportunity to present and gain feedback on their research projects without the assumption of familiarity with the local academic or social context.


Visiting faculty for practical subjects


We also have visiting faculty to teach skills that are necessary for students’ research and further careers. These include data processing and analysis, and documentary-making, taught by leaders in their fields.


See here for details of current and former visiting faculty.


Read more about our logo mark, designed by Monica Peon.