Oberlin Big History Movement

Big History &
Liberal Arts

—The "ultimate form of liberal arts" connects Asia—




Big history is the study and movement that reviews 13.8 billion years of cosmic and global history, and by doing so, copes with modern global challenges. Today it is taught at universities around the world.

In Japan, J.F. Oberlin University has taught the first-ever Japanese big history course at the College of Arts and Sciences since 2016. However, after that, only Tohoku University has followed it since 2017. So it is hard to say that big history is well-known and or being paid much attention in Japanese higher education.

Liberal arts is a key to spread big history education across Japan. In Japanese economic and educational worlds, the importance of liberal arts education attracts rising attention, for it broadens our mind by giving a wide range of knowledge to adapt to the present changing world.

Big history is a very liberal-arts conduct, because it is a super-interdisciplinary study that engages all the disciplines, such as astrophysics, geology, biology, history, and literature.

Hence, we, College of Arts and Sciences, J.F. Oberlin Universtiy, see big history as the ultimate form of liberal arts and shall hold a symposium on Big History and Liberal Arts.

This symposium consists of two parts.

In Part 1, the namer of big history, Professor David Christian from Macquarie University (Australia), another well-known big historian Professor Barry Rodrigue from Symbiosis International University (India), and President Haruaki Deguchi from Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University (Japan), who wrote many books on history and Bildung (embodied knowledge), will talk about the possibilities of big history as the ultimate form of liberal arts.

In Part 2, educators, who teach big history with liberal-arts curricula or orientations at Asian universities and high school, will report their educational practices. It is the first opportunity even at a global scale that so many Asian universities teaching big history get together. Hence, there would be much to learn each other.

Through all of these, we will promote the diffusion of big history education among Japanese universities and high schools, and envision the formation of the "interuniversity big history network" in Asia.


HOST: College of Arts and Sciences (CAS), J.F. Oberlin Univeristy, Tokyo, Japan
CO-HOSTS: Symbiosis School for Liberal Arts (SSLA), Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences, Symbiosis International University, Pune, India; Asian Big History Association (ABHA)
CO-SPONSOR: Chikuma Shobo
CONTACT: Public Relations Division, General Planning Department, J.F. Oberlin Academy (TEL:+81-42-797-9772)

DATE: 1:00 – 6:00 p.m. (open from 12:30 a.m.) November 23 Saturday 2019
VENUE: Classroom 1101 (Capacity: 221 seats), Sullenberger Building, Machida Campus, J.F. Oberlin University, 3758 Tokiwa-machi, Machida City, Tokyo, Japan (About 8 minutes by school bus from the North Gate of Fuchinobe Station of JR Yokohama Line)
PARTICIPATION FEE: Free (with simultaneous interpretation between English and Japanese)

We will set up special booths to buy the Japanese editions of David Christian's latest book Origin Story and his co-authored textbook Big History.

(If people more than the capacity of the venue apply,
we will accept their applications in order of arrival.)


Part 1 Big History as the "Ultimate Form of Liberal Arts" (1:00 – 3:55 p.m.)

Opening address Kiyoshi Hori (Dean, CAS, J.F. Oberlin University, Tokyo, Japan)

Chairperson's address Sun Yue (Professor, Capital Normal University, Beijing, China)

Talk 1 David Christian (Distinguished Professor, Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia)

Talk 2 Barry Rodrigue (Professor, SSLA, Symbiosis International University, Pune, India)

Talk 3 Haruaki Deguchi (President, Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University, Beppu, Japan)

Break (2:50 – 3:05 p.m.)

Conversation + Qs & As David Christian, Barry Rodrigue, and Haruaki Deguchi

Presidential address Hiroaki Hatayama (President, J.F. Oberlin University, Tokyo, Japan)

Break (3:55 – 4:10 p.m.)

Part 2 Big History Education in Liberal Arts: Reports from Asia (4:10 – 6:00 p.m.)

Chariperson's address Nobuo Tsujimura (President, Asian Big History Association)

Report 1 J.F. Oberlin University, Tokyo, Japan: Hirofumi Katayama and Ryosuke Miyawaki (Vice Deans, CAS)

Report 2 Symbiosis International University, Pune, India: Barry Rodrigue (Professor, SSLA) and Afshan Majid (Visiting Faculty, SSLA)

Report 3 Holy Angel University, Angeles, the Philippines: Maria Rubeth R. Hipolito (Professor) and Joel S. Regala (Professor)

Report 4 The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Hong Kong, China: Alexis Lau (Professor) and Aidan Wong (Ph.D. candidate)

Report 5 Kyung Hee University, Seoul, Korea: Sungsoo Kim (Dean, College of Humanities)

Report 6 Aletheia Shonan High School, Chigasaki, Japan: Kenji Ichikawa (Chief guidance counselor)

Concluding & closing address Hirofumi Katayama (Vice Dean, CAS, J.F. Oberlin Unviersity, Tokyo, Japan)