Hiroshi Nishihara (Waseda University)


From 11:00
to 12:30
From 11:00
to 12:30


The purpose of this course is to understand the nature of the social difficulties each state now faces and cultivate the ability to develop suitable policies tackling these difficulties. To achieve this goal, students are provided with important knowledge about (a-1) historical development of theories about fundamental rights and welfare state, (a-2) limits of traditional welfare state activities in the face of globalization, and (b) facets of newly developed theories and practices proposing social doctrines with some universal validity. Students will also engage in practical training in problem resolution on the bases of the theoretical components acquired.


Social problems today are not simply characterized as misallocations of resources between substantial social groups. We are also faced with groups and movements putting forward their own identities and claims for recognition. In this situation, the welfare state’s traditional methods of reallocation often function insufficiently. Social problems continue to exist: poverty, discrimination, unemployment, homelessness, and other forms of social exclusion. It is important to identify social problems as such, and to introduce proper methods for their resolution. The European Union and some national governments are trying to develop such social policies, in particular policies to tackle different aspects of social exclusion.

In this course, students are provided with fundamental knowledge about the historical development of human rights ideas and social policies in the form of 20th Century welfare state activities as well as the limits thereof. Information concerning new theoretical approaches, especially about the so-called capability approach in various forms, will also be given. Different areas of social problems will then be treated and analyzed. In order to tackle social exclusion problems, human rights ideas also need to be adapted for the tasks facing the 21st Century. How might such adaptation be possible? Over the course of the discussion, students are expected to deepen their knowledge of various aspects of newly developed social policies.

Teaching and evaluation methods

This course consists of lectures, national reports by students, and discussion. After the general introduction, lectures about historical and comparative models will be given. These lectures will be followed up within a week by discussion time in which every student will give a short national report. In the latter half of the course, actual problems are treated, either introduced by the lecturer referencing judicial cases in different countries or introduced in the form of extended national report by participating students. At the end of the course, students will be expected to prepare a final report proposing ways of resolving national and global problems and guaranteeing the peaceful coexistence of people with different beliefs and expectations.

Evaluation will be made on the basis of each student’s contributions in the form of a (short/extended) national report, participation in discussions and a final report.

This course is open to all students without any requirement of prior knowledge, although it does require a readiness to engage with severe social problems and current political and legal thinking.


(1) 30% contribution to the discussions
(2) 30% national report presented aurally and/or paper-based
(3) 40% written final report (including the core facts presented in (2) supplemented by global comparison, analytical evaluation thereof and future perspectives.


- Amartya Sen, Social Exclusion: Concept, Application and Scrutiny (Asian Development Bank 2000).
- Matha Nussbaum, Constitution and Capabilities : "Perception" against Lofty Formalism (2007), 121 Harv.L.Rev. 4.



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