Message from the director

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to exert unprecedented influence over our daily lives and the nature of our society. While scientific research on transmission prevention and vaccine development is being advanced to overcome this global crisis, attention is also being increasingly given to the effects of the pandemic on areas that traditionally fall under the umbrella of the humanities and social sciences, such as social relationships, values, cultural customs, and the economy.

From the emergence of humans to approximately 10,000 years before present, the small-scale and dispersed nature of groups precluded the outbreak of pandemics. Infectious diseases only started to pose a significant threat to humans following the start of agriculture and animal domestication and the subsequent increase in population, formation of cities and states, and appearance of settlements with populations in the tens to hundreds of thousands. While artificialization of the natural environment through agriculture and animal domestication, the development of technology, the creation of new worldviews and values, and other such uniquely human phenomena (=civilization) brought a new prosperity to humanity, they also brought about various problems, such as warfare, environmental degradation, discrimination, and poverty.

These various issues facing modern society were born at the intersection of humanity, society, technology, and the environment. Searching for individual causes of each respective aspect of the current situation is unlikely to provide a long-term perspective leading to a fundamental solution. Against this backdrop, the Research Institute for the Dynamics of Civilizations aims to establish a framework for interdisciplinary research both within the humanities and social sciences and with the field of natural sciences in order to elucidate the nature of human history in ways that would not otherwise be revealed through narrower approaches.


Research Institute for the Dynamics of Civilizations, Okayama University


Connecting different disciplines, regions, and time periods to realize new research in the humanities and social sciences

The study of the dynamics of civilizations is a new discipline that was created in order to reconsider the various issues facing modern society within the framework of human civilizations and contribute to the construction of a sustainable society using the knowledge attained through inquiry into the past and a focus on local regions.

The three research cores of the institute

【Long-range analysis】
Fundamental Science of Civilizations Research Core

The emergence of humanity and the formation of civilizations

An archaeology without borders that reveals the history of humanity
Humans and the environment
Historical understanding of regional formation

【Middle-range analysis】
Social Dynamics Research Core

Social complexity and the creation of regional society

Family, region, and the state as systems of survival
Disasters and the resilience of regional society
Social transformation and gender

【Short-range analysis】
Regional Dynamics Research Core

The Setouchi region as a microcosm of Japanese society

The sustainability of regions, markets, and institutions
The continuity and discontinuity of lifestyles
The future of communities as ushered in through art

The institute aims to establish an interdisciplinary research hub centered primarily on the humanities and social sciences by facilitating the organic interaction between university and outside researchers through various research projects and the formation of an international network.

Working in close coordination with the Okayama University Graduate School of Humanities and Social Sciences, the institute aims to foster individuals who can produce new knowledge, give back to society, and succeed on both the local and international stages.

Cultural Heritage Management Division


Successor to the Okayama University Archaeological Research Center, the Cultural Heritage Management Division implements surveys, pursues conservation, conducts research, and promotes the utilization of cultural heritage within Okayama University, with a particular focus on the archaeological excavation, research, and management of buried cultural property.
Additionally, it widely presents the results of these activities to the public and endeavors to utilize its findings within the community.


The excavation of buried cultural property within Okayama University began with the attendance of archaeologists from the Okayama City Board of Education at construction on the Shikata Campus in 1978, with observational and trial excavations conducted by Okayama Prefecture and Okayama City continuing until 1982. Preparation of a system for the protection of archaeological sites within the university began in earnest the same year, resulting in the creation of the Office of Archaeological Excavation in 1983 for the purpose of ensuring both the smooth construction of university facilities and the protection of buried cultural property. In November 1987, it was subsequently reorganized into the Archaeological Research Center, conducting excavations of and research on buried cultural property within the university, publishing reports of its findings, managing excavated artifacts, and periodically holding exhibitions. Following integration into the Research Institute for the Dynamics of Civilizations, it will continue carrying out these tasks, in addition to enhancing its research activities in line with the goals of the institute.


The Cultural Heritage Management Division operates under the specific guidance of a council of faculty members belonging to the Research Institute for the Dynamics of Civilizations. Additionally, archaeological excavation within the campus is conducted as a university-wide operation and excavation and research are carried out under the guidance of a committee for the excavation of buried cultural property. Under the Division Head (professor) and Team Leader (associate professor) are four assistant professors and five technical assistants. While duties are divided between the Cultural Properties Excavation Team and the Management Team, all members cooperate to protect and promote the cultural heritage of the university and endeavor to widely disseminate the results of their activities.

Archaeological sites within the university

There are several archaeological sites within Okayama University: The Tsushima-okadai site on the Tsushima campus, the Shikata site on the Shikata campus, and the Fukuro site on the Misasa campus.