Aiming Academic Development in the field of Technology and Public Policy

The Institute for Technology, Enterprise and Competitiveness (ITEC) was established in 2003, following the endowments to Doshisha University by OMRON Corporation, whose founder, Kazuma Tateishi, dedicated his life to benefitting society by promoting entrepreneurship and developing innovative technologies with their achievements in the traditional shop-floor production.

Since its establishment, the Institute expanded its operations under the previous director-general Yoshifumi Nakata with activities such as the 21st Century COE (Center of Excellence) program: “Synthetic Research on Technology, Enterprise and Competitiveness” (FY2003 to FY2007), Private University Strategic Research Base Formation Support Project: “People and Organizations to Enable Sustainable Innovation” (FY2009 to FY2013) and Strategic Young Researcher Overseas Visits Program for Accelerating Brain Circulation: “Researcher Capability Enhancement of Young Researchers through Participation in Global Knowledge Networks” (FY2010 to FY2012). Through such activities, the institute has worked to promote researches on innovation, to globalize the researches and to nurture young researchers at Doshisha University.

I took over the responsibility of director-general from the 2016 fiscal year and have decided to change the Institute’s purpose to pursuing a society that responds to new technologies, by positioning Public Policy Related to New Technology as the Institute’s new focus of research, with respects to the Institute’s previous results and achievements, while bringing together researchers in the field of science and technology, such as information engineering and energy engineering, with researchers in the field of social sciences and humanities, such as law, philosophy, sociology and economics. In line with these basic principles, the Institute will work to fulfill the following three roles.

1.The Promotion of Social Sciences Research Focused on Future Society

The development of the latest technology such as big data processing technology and AI is expected to contribute greatly to the advancement of human society. On the one hand, it has a big impact on the relation between people and machines, between people and other people and the way people live as humans.

Currently, autonomous driving technology, in focus around the world, is an example of such technology that has emerged abruptly as an issue for citizens, specifically questioning the relation between machines and humans. The spread of this technology into society is also expected to have an influence on every aspects of society in the future, such as the way people work and the structure of cities. However, the contribution from social sciences to autonomous driving technology is currently extremely limited, with the exception of legal involvement such as the review of the Road Traffic Act and the Road Transport Vehicle Act.

The development of technology such as AI technology has the great potential to contribute to the advancement of human society but can also be well expected to alienate human society in unimaginable ways when it goes too far. To utilize such technology effectively, it is necessary to conduct a thorough review of how the economy and society operate.

It is necessary now more than ever to conduct social sciences research that is oriented towards future society, which looks ahead to the development of technology and discusses the mechanisms for using and controlling technology with researchers in the field of science and technology. Based on this thinking, ITEC aims to fulfill its role as an organization that nurtures social sciences research oriented towards future society.

2.Role as a Platform to Bring Together Science and Technology Research and Social Sciences Research

To conduct social sciences research oriented towards future society, it is indispensable to have a platform that connects researchers in the field of science and technology with researchers in the field of social sciences and humanities.

From 2016, ITEC has invited the director generals or leading members from the “Mobility Research Center” and “Research Center for Advanced Powertrain ” at the Kyotanabe campus, as well as the “Center for the Study of the Creative Economy” and “Research Center for Criminology” at the Imadegawa campus, to our management committee to steer it into a new direction. This was based on our intention to begin ITEC’s research on Public Policy Related to New Technology starting from automotive technology, but we are also aiming to expand ITEC’s role as a platform bringing engineering and social science together, not limited in the area of automotive technology, but regenerative medicine, environmental technology, AI and communications technology, then to develop it as a unique function of ITEC.

In this process, it is especially important to provide a platform for young researchers. To advance the work of young researchers, it will be important to provide them some initial strategies, such as advantages in research funds and opportunities to meet renowned researchers, to get them fueled. We plan to place a high priority on putting ITEC’s resources into these purposes.

3.Contribution to 21st Century-Style Science and Technology Liberal Arts Education

Science Council of Japan proposed the need for The 21st Century-style Science and Technology Liberal Arts Education under the acknowledgment that it is important to rebuild and enhance education in liberal arts that takes into account the widespread diffusion and penetration of science and technology’s great advances and achievements into modern society in its Policy to Nurture the Future Generation of Scientists (February 2013). Furthermore, as one of the reasons behind its proposal, it stated that the improvement of science and technology literacy is indispensable for applying the achievements of science and technology appropriately and for responding appropriately to the various problems and issues that will arise from such achievements.

ITEC’s aiming Social Sciences Research Focused on Future Society is targeting the various problems and issues that result from scientific and technological achievements. I believe that ITEC’s function as a platform bringing engineering and social science together and the results of research from this platform will contribute greatly to the formation and promotion of “21st Century-style Science and Technology Liberal Arts Education.”

ITEC is a research institution and not an educational institution, however, we also hope to contribute to the field of education in these areas, by strengthening our relation to undergraduate and graduate education.
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