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Outline

Background and Objectives of the Institute’s Establishment (outline)

The Institute of Social Sciences was established in July 2002 as an interdisciplinary research institute of social sciences, integrating the Center for Research of Global Economy, the Research Institute of Business Management, the Institute of Social Relations, and the Toyo University Institute of Comparative Law, all of which had a long history as institutes affiliated with the Faculty of Economics, the Faculty of Business Administration, the Faculty of Sociology, and the Faculty of Law, respectively. The institute aims to further develop research achievements accumulated in each academic field by each of the former research institutes into interdisciplinary research and promote more original research and studies on a wide range of issues, from basic to advanced, in a rapidly changing contemporary society, with the aim of contributing to better development of human society.

Activities and Features of the Institute

While the Institute of Social Sciences has placed its research focus on the “environment” since its founding, it added “information,” “law,” “regional management,” and “seeds” as major research themes in AY 2016. Since then, the institute has held regular symposia and implemented joint research projects on the five research themes. One of the projects is the ICT-based Educational and Research Project promoted through industry-academia-government collaboration, whereby curricula and policies of ICT-based education have been examined from diverse perspectives, and SMILE Learning promoted by Takeo City, Saga Prefecture, has been supported and reviewed. The findings from the project have been published in the report, Demonstrative Research on Digital Textbooks: From a Case Study on Takeo City’s Early Digital Textbook Introduction (in Place of the Fourth Review Report on ICT-based Education in Takeo City). Another example is the Project on Modern Problems of Sports, implemented in preparation for the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020, whereby project members, mainly including legal research fellows belonging to the institute, held a series of research report meetings and published the interim report, Modern Problems of Sports: From Philosophical, Career, and Global Perspectives in the end of AY 2018. These projects are and will still be in progress in AY 2019 and beyond.

In AY 2019, the Institute of Social Sciences redefined the “environment,” which had long been its major research theme and covered only the “natural environment,” as a broader concept that covers all elements of human life, including law, economy, politics, and various social activities. Positioning the broader concept as the common foundation for, and a link between, studies in a wide variety of academic fields, the institute has changed its theoretical structure to one that can help facilitate joint and interdisciplinary research projects between various fields. Based on the renovated theoretical structure, the institute has created three activity categories: projects, research councils, and seeds support, to pave the way to interdisciplinary research. With regard to the three categories, “projects” denotes externally funded research projects in principle, “research councils” are organized on research fellows’ own voluntary applications, and “seeds support” is provided to encourage ad hoc academic activities. The institute has so far implemented the above-mentioned two projects and organized five research councils, as well as provided seeds support as needed. For details about these activities, in addition to the institute’s past activities, visit the institute’s website.

Furthermore, to ensure that all research fellows, including visiting research fellows from abroad, can use the institute freely based on the concept of an institute as a space for research, the Institute of Social Sciences is equipped with a projector and a laptop on a meeting table, four desks for individual research use, three printers for various uses, three laptops, and one desktop. The institute has adopted a calendar system that allows research fellows to reserve these devices online anytime using their passwords.

The latest initiative of the Institute of Social Sciences is the launch of the English academic journal, Japanese Society and Culture, in AY 2019, with the aim of sharing achievements in Japanese studies and experience concerning Japan, which have been developed and accumulated since the country opened its doors to the rest of the world in the Meiji Era. This initiative is aimed at achieving the ambitious goal of branding Japan in the academic world as well. Using this online journal, the institute is taking on the challenge of sharing knowledge about Japan with researchers around the world.

The Institute of Social Sciences thus promotes interdisciplinary research on contemporary society by creating a favorable environment for joint and interdisciplinary studies, handing down past research achievements, and supporting many research fellows’ original ideas.

Research Achievements

The Institute of Social Sciences discloses its research achievements in the Journal of Contemporary Social Sciences, which is a Japanese institute bulletin published at the end of every academic year, and Japanese Society and Culture, an online academic journal in English launched in AY 2019 to share Japan-related research achievements with researchers around the world. For details about the achievements of specific studies, please refer to these journals.

The results of the externally funded ICT-based education project are published in the report, Demonstrative Research on Digital Textbooks: From a Case Study on Takeo City’s Early Digital Textbook Introduction (in Place of the Fourth Review Report on ICT-based Education in Takeo City). Achievements of the Project on Modern Problems of Sports are shared in the interim report, Modern Problems of Sports: From Philosophical, Career, and Global Perspectives.

In addition, the institute has published a Working Paper Series as part of its seeds support efforts, while creating valuable opportunities to share information about academic exploration into contemporary society, including Environmental Symposia, which the institute has held regularly since its founding; special lectures and research council meetings with renowned guest speakers; and research presentation meetings aimed at fostering and supporting young researchers. For details and reports on these initiatives, refer to the above-mentioned Journal of Contemporary Social Sciences.

Path Forward (or Goal)

The immediate goal of the Institute of Social Sciences is to invigorate various activities at or involving the institute by organizing research activities such as symposia and lectures that can also help educate graduate and undergraduate students, while maintaining focus on the above-mentioned three activity categories, namely, projects, research councils, and seeds support. In this process, the institute will carefully promote collaboration with outside organizations and seek opportunities for and implement long-term joint research projects, while viewing AI and the IoT in particular not as separate fields but as an indispensable environment for a contemporary and near-future human society.

«Past and present directors»

1

Shusaku Yamaya

Economics

July 2002–March 2004

2

Yasuo Matsuyuki

Business Administration

April 2004–March 2006

3

Rieko Yamashita

Law

April 2006–March 2008

4

Syunshi Matsuzono

Regional Development Studies

April 2008–March 2013

5

Kentaro Shibusawa

Economics

April 2013–March 2016

6

Haruo Ishii

Business Administration

April 2016–March 2018

7

Hiroshi Saito

Law

April 2019–