Master’s (Doctoral) Program in Death and Life Studies
The program brings together and integrates the academic fields of religion and ethics and care-related studies that have been accumulated at Sophia University, as well as academic fields that deal with various aspects of the modern world and global issues, to form a central center for research and education in practical religious studies and life and death studies in Japan, and to develop Sophia University’s educational spirit In April 2016, Sophia University established the Master’s Program in Death and Life Studies in the Graduate School of Practical Religion in order to expand “for Others, with Others” into modern society. And to further develop its education and research, we established a doctoral program in April 2018.
The Graduate School of Practical Studies of Religion encompasses a broader field of study than life and death studies alone. This is because it is a field of scholarship that responds to the various issues facing contemporary society in light of religious cultures and ethical and ideological traditions. As seen in the international conflicts that have shaken the world, modern society is faced with problems in which diverse religious cultures are in conflict with each other, as well as problems in science, technology, politics, economics, and other areas that cause conflicts between non-religious and religious thought. The role of Practical Religious Studies is to respond to these problems in a practical and clinical manner, based on the study of various religious cultures.
Life and death studies are one of the most important areas of study in the field of practical religious studies. It involves a wide range of disciplines, including theology, religious studies, philosophy, comparative thought, literature, and the arts.
In addition, it is appropriate to base the development of death studies as a practice centered on clinical spiritual care on the academic knowledge of practical religious studies. This is related to the fact that spiritual care was formed in the West as “Death Studies” developed from the field of practical theology into a field of academic knowledge that transcended religious and sectarian boundaries.
The mission of the Graduate School of Practical Studies of Religion is to lead the advancement of research and education in practical religion and life and death studies in Japan and will play a critical role as the first graduate school in Japan to train both academic specialists in this area and professionals who are required to have a high level of expertise in the field.
- Master’s Program: Master’s (Literature)
- Doctoral Program: Doctors (Literature)
- Able to apply for Licensed Spiritual Carer (*1) (Possible by taking courses included in the completion requirement credits)
- Qualification to apply for Licensed Interfaith Chaplain(*2) (Possible by taking courses included in the completion requirement credits)
*1 Qualification certified by The Japan Society for Spiritual Care
*2 Qualification certified by Society for Interfaith Chaplaincy in Japan, and religious leaders (clergy) belonging to religious organizations, temples, shrines, etc., who are in a position to provide consultation to the congregation are eligible for this.
Core disciplines studied
In addition to critically and constructively studying the religious and ideological foundations of modern society, which is supported by highly developed science and technology, we will also conduct advanced research on the following three areas: practical religion and comparative thought, applied ethics and value theory, and reflective care practice.
|Problem in Life and Death Study||Subject of Research|
|1. The Public Nature of Religion||Interreligious Dialogue and Cooperation
The social role of religion in a value-pluralistic society, etc.
|2. Views on Life and Death, Bioethics||Values for Life, Peace, and the Environment
Ethics, etc. in medical practice and advanced science and technology
|3. Clinical Spiritual Care||Clinical Spiritual Care in Health and Welfare
Education for Life
Grief care related to disasters, accidents, incidents, suicide, etc.
Prospects for post-completion career paths and demand by the current economic society
The main possible post-completion career paths in light of the three mortality issues studied by the Graduate School of Practical Religion, in addition to “further study as a researcher,” are as follows.
|Problem in Life and Death Study||Image of Human Resources to be Trained|
|1. The Public Nature of Religion||Activities in religious organizations, non-profit organizations, government agencies, etc., as a specialist in public activities of religion.|
|2. Views on Life and Death, Bioethics||Activities as a bioethics and mortality specialist in medical, welfare, and research institutions|
|3. Clinical Spiritual Care||Activities in the medical, welfare, community, and government sectors as a spiritual care professional with “Licensed Spiritual Carer” certification, chaplain, clinical religious leader, and community leader in community care.|
Day and evening classes and a long-term enrollment system that allows students to study while working
To enable working people to study while working, classes are offered across both daytime and evening hours, and more than half of the courses, including required courses, are offered in the evening. Furthermore, a long-term enrollment system was introduced in FY2018. This system allows students who are employed to enroll for three years for the cost of two years’ tuition. Only for Master’s degree students.
Selected Thesis Topics
- Possibility of using novels in Life and Death Studies – Think about “my death” from novel-Fudarakutokaiki
- Attempts to Mainstream Gender in Interreligious Dialogue Organizations – Case studies in Religions for Peace: The Visibility of Women’s Religious and the Changing Gender Debate
- Studies among Eugenic Protection Law and Psychiatrist: why did Japanese Association of Psychiatric Hospitals and Japan Association for Mental Health lobby for a eugenic surgery budget?
- Suffering and structure of those who have a desire to hasten death – Narrative analysis using multiple path isotropy modeling
- The Indeterminacy of Word Meaning Making and the Dynamism of Spirituality – A Study of Readings club
- The Changing Perception of Physicians’ Role and Sense of Responsibility in Home Health Care: based on one’s view of life and death
- Harmonizing the right to know one’s origins and anonymity: Based on a survey by children who want to know their parents and sperm donors.
The Master’s Program in Death and Life Studies sets standards for the skills and knowledge students should acquire before graduation as described below: Those who fulfill the graduation requirements and pass their thesis defense shall be deemed to have acquired these qualities and will be awarded a diploma
- The ability to understand research questions in one of the following academic fields: “the public nature of religion,” “view of life and death and life ethics,” and “clinical spiritual care”; and the ability to proactively engage in fundamental research
- The ability to understand the practical meaning and role that one’s research bears in the field
- The ability to pursue practical questions and contribute to academics through a logically and academically structured thesis
The Doctoral Program in Death and Life Studies sets standards for the skills and knowledge students should acquire before graduation as described below: Those who fulfill the graduation requirements and pass their dissertation defense shall be deemed to have acquired these qualities and will be awarded a diploma.
- The ability to contribute to academics as an independent researcher of practical religious studies based on high expertise or interdisciplinary knowledge of the humanities, centered on religious studies
- A deep understanding for the ideological and religious foundations and social background of the place of religious practice that is the target of one’s research and the ability to contribute to the practical exploration of research questions and the fostering of younger human resources as educators and practitioners
- Completion of a dissertation of high standards and originality that can contribute to the exploration of sophisticated practical research questions and academics
In accordance with the diploma policy, the Master’s Program in Death and Life Studies constructs its curriculum with courses aligned to the following purposes:
- Through the mandatory courses “Death and Life Studies Methodology I” and “Death and Life Studies Methodology II,” have students acquire methodologies and research ethics that will form the foundations of research. Train students in their academic field, selected from the three research fields, “Public Nature of Religion,” “View of Life and Death,” and “Clinical Spiritual Care,” by having them take two Seminar Courses (4 credits) representing their research field and one Seminar Course (2 credits) from an adjacent research field as compulsory elective courses. Furthermore, have students deepen their interdisciplinary knowledge through elective courses.
- Have students acquire highly interdisciplinary and specialized knowledge in humanities and social sciences associated with religion, tradition, history and thought as well as a practical understanding of death and life studies issues through direct experiences dealing with death and life studies issues in Internship Courses and Seminar Courses.
- Under the close research guidance provided by the research advisor assigned immediately after enrollment the “Research Guidance” course offered every semester, have students compile a thesis based on an appropriate understanding of issues and research methodologies.
In accordance with the diploma policy, the Doctoral Program in Death and Life Studies constructs its curriculum with courses aligned to the following purposes:
- Offer “Practical Studies of Religion Colloquium I” and “Practical Studies of Religion Colloquium II” as compulsory courses and foster basic research abilities through the acquisition of the ability for constructive criticism and research ethics.
- In response to the diversified aims and academic interest of students, offer a group of special research courses from which students may select courses representing multiple disciplines. Through the courses, students will deepen their knowledge of their research fields and acquire knowledge of complex death and life studies issues. Students requiring stronger practical skills in providing care will foster practical clinical skills and guidance skills by taking courses including OJT.
- Have students acquire research application skills and presentation skills through research guidance tailored to individual is sues, and based on a review of their research plans, have them acquire research skills with high expertise and originality as well as the firm educational skills required of an educator.
- Have students compile their dissertation in accordance with an original and active research plan with a practical viewpoint, based on their coursework and research guidance and preliminary dissertation review
The Master’s Program in Death and Life Studies seeks students with the following qualities:
- Students who have acquired or will acquire a Bachelor’s degree in Humanities, Social Sciences, Psychology, Welfare, Medicine, etc. and who are interested in academic disciplines that Address the various issues arousing in modern society based on religious culture and traditions of ethical thought, or practical disciplines that address healthcare and spiritual care-related issues or practical and clinical issues of local community based on training in the humanities, social science s and spiritual care
- Students who aspire to train as a spiritual caregiver under programs accredited by the Japan Society of Spiritual Care, and pursue further training as a high-level caregiver
- Students who embrace the academic skills and aptitude equivalent to the above
The Doctoral Program in Death and Life Studies seeks students with the following qualities:
- Students who have acquired a Master’s degree from the Master’s program of our graduate school or another equivalent program, those who have acquired an equivalent level of knowledge and bear the potential for research, and those who have accumulated deep practical activities in their disciplinary specialties
- Those who have the knowledge and sensitivity to address the various issues arousing in modern society based on consideration of religious, cultural, ethical and philosophical traditions
- Those who are interested in practicing healthcare and spiritual care or addressing practical and clinical issues of local community based on humanities and practical spiritual care
Shogo ASAMI Professor
Kenta KASAI Professor
Keisuke SATO Professor
Nahomi TAKEDA Professor
Kazuyoshi TERAO Professor
Minako YOSHIDA Professor
Yosuke SAKAI Associate Professor