Ritsumeikan University Graduate School of CoreEthics and Frontier Science
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‘A message from the Dean

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Research Worth Investing Your Experience In

Research Worth Investing Your Experience In

The Graduate School of Core Ethics and Frontier Sciences has welcomed many graduate students since its establishment in April 2003. We have a diverse student body with a wide variety of backgrounds. I suppose very few graduate schools have this much variety; it is a unique characteristic of our institution. These students have a wealth of experiences, ideas and knowledge. In other words, they have more to bring to and invest in their studies, I think. Therefore, the faculty also faces unique difficulties and joys in leading such students academically.

Five years since our establishment, the number of students graduating from our school with a doctoral degree has increased. The total number is still small, but some graduates have begun their careers in various research institutions. Many students participate in our doctoral program while they continue working at another research institution, public office, corporation, community group or citizens group. Then, after achieving their doctoral degrees, they contribute more to these places. Other graduates move on to another institution or school to take advantage of the experience gained in our graduate school. In the first phase of our development, we had to focus on accepting students, but now we also have to put our energies into preparing our students to contribute to society in a meaningful and valuable way.

The Graduate School of Core Ethics and Frontier Sciences, as the name indicates, was established as a cutting-edge model for applying recent graduate school policies to the human sciences and social sciences based on research and development institutions established in science faculties in America in the 1980s. However, as early as the 1980s, some pointed out that such trendy research and development structures were causing many problems, even in science faculties. And today we can point out further problems that have appeared in different forms in human and social sciences. More than that, policies on graduate schools face various problems and these will put pressure on graduate schools to reform sooner or later. There may be repeated rounds of scrapping and building programs, but nevertheless I believe the Graduate School of Core Ethics and Frontier Science has a big role to play.

In a broader view, Higher Education policy faces various problems in any era. There have been the same problems today and in the past - just in different forms - in admissions, foundational education, management of classes, independent studies, the relationship between faculty and students, career opportunities, scholarship and so on. Nevertheless, in the face of so many problems, we should neither overlook them nor give up our efforts. As academic scholars, at the very least, we need to recognize the situation with a critical and wide view. It also might be possible to study about it, as an example of recent political and economic changes.

Graduate schools are places of study, of course, and our graduate school is a place to study Core Ethics and Frontier Sciences. We should expand our research, in quantity and quality, beyond those of the existing academic world or we should carry out our research with totally new methods. It is a hard task we have set for ourselves. Still, a hard task will give us more joy when we accomplish it.

No matter how hard our task may be, we should not put all our life and time into our studies only. It is not because it is impossible physiologically or physically, but a life with only study would be strange. Therefore, scholars have to struggle (in an old way of saying) between theory and practice, (in a less old way) between fact and value, (in a recent way) between study and the real world, and (in a twisted way) between leisure for study and a surplus that is superfluous. Such struggles are hidden behind the perplexities in deciding the direction of one's studies or career. I believe such struggles are driving Higher Education policy as well.

I can say just two points, clearly and absolutely. First, scholars should recognize these various conflicts and struggles thoroughly. I believe any research which has not passed through such a struggle is not worthwhile as research. Second, because we are in a graduate school to do research, we should struggle and take the advantage of this opportunity to improve our research. One grows wiser as one struggles. In graduate school we should bring this wisdom to fruit in our research. However, it is not satisfactory just to reflect upon such struggles using existing academic methods. At most, this is merely a form of academic self-protection. In our Graduate School of Core Ethics and Frontier Sciences, scholars should go further.

Graduate schools are places for students to invest their experiences, no matter the size of the responsibility this entails. Of course, we sometimes have to reconsider the worth of our investment. We should remember that it is the duty of scholars to create research for which it worth investing all of our efforts.

Dean, Graduate School of Core Ethics
and Frontier Sciences
Yoshiyuki Koizumi

2009.5.29update Copyright(c) Ritsumeikan Univ. All rights reserved.
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