Event Report: Institute of Human Sciences Annual Conference 2015

Close to 100 people attended the event On January 17th, 2015 the annual conference of the Institute of Human Sciences for academic year 2014 was held on Ritsumeikan University’s Kinugasa Campus. As was the case last year, this meeting also served as a public forum for the “Translational Studies for Inclusive Society” project, part of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology-Supported Program for Strategic Research Foundations at Private Universities.
 This project aims to create a center for practical research on comprehensive human services toward an inclusive society, and enters its final (3rd) year in 2015. At this year’s public research forum “Surveying practical cooperation between academia and social practice in the domain of human services”, sessions were conducted focusing on the three aspects of human services addressed by this project: “proactive support”, “escorted support”, and “restorative support” (sessions 1, 3 and 4). A general discussion between scholars conducting research on transnational cooperation in human services was also held (session 5).
 In the poster session (session 2), various researchers from the Institute of Human Sciences, including some not involved in this project directly, presented posters on a wide range of topics related to the human sciences.
 The conference was very well attended, with close to 100 individuals, including, in addition to the participants in this project, researchers affiliated with this university and other institutions, professionals involved in the practice of human services, students at this university and other institutions, and members of the local community.
 The conference program and pamphlet can be found here. 41 photographs of the event, including those posted on this page, can be viewed on our Facebook page (they can be accessed even if you do not have a Facebook account).

Session 1: Lecture -“Creating environments for elderly support – from the perspective of communication”

A smiling Prof. Kitahara delivers her lecture In session 1, as an event involving the “Translational Studies for Inclusive Society” Proactive Support Team, Prof. Yasuko Kitahara from Kawamura Gakuen Woman’s University was invited to give a lecture. For more information about the Proactive Support Team, click here.
 In 2014 Prof. Kawamura took part in research as a visiting researcher at Ritsumeikan University’s Institute of Human Sciences, and during this period engaged in intensive research collaboration with the Proactive Support Team and researchers studying the elderly in particular. In this lecture, “Creating environments for elderly support – from the perspective of communication”, she discussed creating environments for elderly support from the perspective of an expert who has studied “environment creation” targeting various generations and offered valuable advice to those active in this field. She answered questions from the floor with a smile, and set a suitably convivial tone for the start of this long public research forum.
 The session was presented by Proactive Support Team leader Prof. Noriaki Tsuchida (College of Letters). Although it was held on a very cold day with intermittent bouts of rain, many participants attended this session and it was a great success.

Session 2: Poster Session

Poster Session Session 2 featured the presentation of posters on various topics related to human services and human sciences. 23 posters, created not only by professors and young researchers but also by graduate students and working professionals, were displayed in a separate venue (Soshikan 303/304), and interactive discussions were held between the presenters and conference attendees. A list of the topics covered by these posters and excerpts of their contents can be found here.
 In a departure from previous conferences, this year a light meal was served instead of foregoing a lunch break. Presenters and attendees had a change to converse in a congenial atmosphere while enjoying sandwiches and other light snacks. People were free to come and go throughout this session, but many participants spent the whole 90 minutes in the hall.
Presenters discussing their research These poster presentations included the presentation of five research projects selected for the 2014 Institute of Human Sciences Exploratory Research Project Support Program. Each of these projects received competitive research funding publicly offered by the Institute this year, and there are high expectations for the future development of the research they are pursuing. Click here for the Exploratory Research Project selection list.

Session 3: Discussion – “Restoration and recovery – new issues in human services”

Session 3 invitees Ms. Sugawara (left) and Prof. Morihisa (right) In “Translational Studies for Inclusive Society” there is collaboration and cooperation with many individuals responsible for the social practice of human services, namely, practitioners who work where human services are being provided. Session 3 featured a discussion between a practitioner who is actually providing restorative support and a researcher studying restorative justice. The two individuals invited to take part in this discussion were Naomi Sugawara, a lawyer at Nara Bar Association, and Chie Morihisa, an Associate Professor in the College of Law, Ritsumeikan University.
 Ms. Sugawara is a spirited young lawyer who studies/practices a form of therapeutic justice (including justice in a clinical setting and restorative justice) that goes beyond the mitigating circumstances defenses of the past on the basis of the idea that “criminal proceedings are a venue for defendants and their accusers to fix what has gone wrong in their lives”. At this event she discussed topics such as the current state of legal advocacy aimed at changing lives from this perspective of someone involved in the practice of restorative justice. Prof. Morihisa studies topics such as the current state of social support and criminal proceedings pertaining to elderly people and people with mental disabilities who engage in illegal or criminal behavior, the treatment and judicial process given to young people with disabilities, and restorative justice perspectives and overcoming criminal responsibility. Prof. Morihisa is also a young and up-and-coming figure in this field. On this occasion she spoke about a recent example of restorative justice being implemented in Australia.
 This session was overseen by Restorative Support Team leader Prof. Tadashi Nakamura (College of Social Sciences) and unfolded as a vibrant, spontaneous discussion. For more about the Restorative Support Team, click here.

Session 4: Panel discussion -“The practices of escorted support”

The Session 4 panel discussion Session 4 was organized by the Escorted Support Team. The research targets/methods of the Escorted Support Team, introduced here, are extremely diverse. At this event members of three of this team’s research groups each gave presentations, and then a panel discussion was held with the aim of sketching an outline of escorted support as a whole.
 First to present was Prof. Shinji Tani (College of Letters), who is currently working on support for children with disabilities and their families. Prof. Tani, who is also the leader of the Escorted Support Team, got things started by laying out an easy to understand overview of escorted support.
 Next Prof. Hozumi Araki (College of Social Sciences), whose work concerns support for children on the autism spectrum disorder and their families, took the stage and gave a report on the accumulated data and latest results of the ongoing treatment and education programs and checklist of developmental assessment research being conducted by this institute.
 The last presenter was Prof. Akira Mochizuki (College of Letters) who is engaged in ongoing research into “information transition” in human services at this institute. Prof. Mochizuki presented a case of collaboration with a local special support school and reported on the current state of ongoing support for individuals with disabilities.
 This session was presented by Prof. Yoshiaki Takeuchi (College of Social Sciences), and after the three presentations he moderated a discussion that also included questions and comments from the floor. Some attendees had just arrived for this session, and the majority who had attended earlier sessions as well listened intently to these reports on the results of research being carried out at this institute.

Session 5: Group discussion – “The potential for transnational cooperation in human services”

Project leader Prof. Inaba serving as moderator of Session 5 In addition to the Proactive Support Team, the Escorted Support Team, and the Restorative Support Team, two other teams that are part of “Translational Studies for Inclusive Society”, the Methodology Team and the Fundamental Research Team, also took part in this event. In session 5, researchers studying “transnational cooperation in human services” from each of these 5 teams took the stage and engaged in a group discussion that also included input from the floor.
 The discussion was begun with Prof. Hajime Yoshida (College of Letters) from the Proactive Support Team, Prof. Shinji Tani from the Escorted Support Team, and Prof. Kuniko Muramoto (Graduate School of Science for Human Services) from the Restorative Support Team discussing specific elements of their research, and Prof. Ryozo Matsuda (College of Social Sciences) from the Methodology Team and Prof. Yoshiyuki Koizumi (Graduate School of Core Ethics and Frontier Sciences) from the Basic Research Team then offering comments in response. The session was moderated by project leader Prof. Mitsuyuki Inaba (College of Policy Science).
 In spite of stretching late into the evening, all of the sessions were very well attended, with some participants taking part from the morning and others arriving only for the afternoon sessions.

Comments from the external evaluation committee

Group photo of speakers including invitee Izumi Shinichiro (far right, front row) In order to obtain neutral assessments of the activities and results of the project, “Translational Studies for Inclusive Society” has sought out an external evaluation committee with expertise in relevant fields. We asked one member of this committee, Mr. Shinichiro Izumi (Director General of Japan Science and Technology Agency’s Research Institute of Science and Technology for Society), to attend this event, and at its conclusion he gave us his opinion of the conference and our project. Mr. Izumi praised the close collaboration between researchers and practitioners in various fields to solve social problems, while highlighting the need to disseminate the results of these efforts more actively.

Information about this institute

 This symposium was conducted as part of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology-Supported Program for Strategic Research Foundations at Private Universities “Translational Studies for Inclusive Society” Project. In addition to this website, information about similar events being held at this institute can also be found in our email magazine and on Facebook and Twitter. You can sign up to receive this information through the links below, so if you are interested please click “like” or follow us.
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