Toyo Eiwa University opened in 1989 and celebrates its 20th anniversary in 2009. Taking advantage of the characteristics of the university with professorates from various fields of Human and Social Sciences for “interdisciplinary” researches and education, The Institute of Thanatology was founded in 2003. It has been undertaking research activities as well as open courses since 2004, and has been publishing research reports in the Annual of the Institute of Thanatology.
In the 1960’s, Thanatology (Death Studies) was established as an academic field in the West to resolve the contradictions brought about by modern Medicine, which had increasing control over death and dying in hospitals. For Thanatology, we need all-round knowledge about human beings as well as their background (i.e. their culture, religion, history, society, education, and so forth). We also need all kinds of science: basic, human, social, natural, and clinical. To make these disciplines interact, Thanatology should not take the conventional interdisciplinary approach but rather, a new comprehensive one.Researchers of Thanatology need to be specialists but, at the same time open to other fields, ready toengage in dialogues with those in other disciplines.
In Japan, Thanatology, translated, “Shisei-gaku (Death and Life Studies)” was established during the 1980’s. Consequently, as it is able to include the whole gamut of Human Studies, it is a more comprehensive discipline than in other countries. It will continue growing through innumerable encounters with other disciplines and paradigm shifts occurring within it. Our Institute would like to further contribute to Thanatology by specific and concrete researches and a diversity of open courses.