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A Round-Table Open Discussion -- The Role of the Universities in these Uncertain Times

2009-10-16 (Fri) 4:00 p.m. - 5:45 p.m.

Faculty from the sciences, intellectuals from the humanities, political figures steering educational policies, and financial leaders will meet for a round-table open discussion concerning "The Role of the universities in these uncertain times" on October 16, 2009.

Participants in the discussion are: (names are listed in no particular order)
TOKAI Kisaburo, former minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT), Chairperson, Research Commission on the Education System, Liberal Democratic Party

MATSUO Yasuki, Manager, Research Promotion Department, Riken, Research and Development Department, MEXT

ONO Yoshiyasu, Director, Institute of Social and Economic Research, Osaka University

HORII Yoshitane, Director, Osaka 21st Century Association, Off-campus member of Administrative Council, Osaka University

YOKOMIZO Hideaki, Director, Japan Atomic Energy Agency, Chairperson, Atomic Energy Society of Japan

KAKESHITA Tomoyuki, Professor at the Graduate School of Engineering, Osaka University, Director, Educational Affairs Office

MAGARI Takayuki, Vice Director, Nuclear Power Division, The Kansai Electric Power Co., Inc.


Faced with a stagnant economy and an uncertain political situation, it's difficult to foresee what the future holds in store. In such circumstances, the discovery of or a review of principles of methodology in the natural sciences and the humanities or of policies based upon such principles may provide us with the outlook we need to move forward. This round-table discussion will discuss the role universities should now take in proceeding with education and research.

After the change in their legal status to national university corporations, the national universities have reexamined their organizational structure and improved the system for promoting efficient cooperation with industry and personnel development. They have also implemented many measures such as guidelines for self-evaluation and the internationalization of education. However, these are basically stop-gap measures and don't offer a clear view of where to proceed from this point.

National research institutions should not take shortsighted approaches and be influenced by the inertia of current policies. Examining the roots of the uncertain economy, despite the opaqueness of such roots, and devising appropriate guidelines are the duties of national research institutions and national universities, the highest educational institutions.

In the science and engineering fields, academic-industrial alliances and swift cultivation of practical applied technologies have been overemphasized in recent years and cannot be a solution henceforth. Furthermore, reviving retrospective production technology in manufacturing cannot be a solution.

Although it's true that outstanding technological developments in recent years contributed to the building of the current infrastructure, the time in which only science and technology were applicable or justified in manufacturing has finished. Thus, the point of contention becomes whether the basics should be emphasized again or if science, technology, and social economy should be viewed from different points.

Date: 2009-10-16 (Fri) 4:00 p.m. - 5:45 p.m.
Sponsored: Osaka University Engineering Society, Graduate School of Engineering
Venue: Room #211, Building U3
Registration: Not required.
Contact: Osaka University Engineering Society

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