What's New from the Secretariat October

The October meeting of the Executive Committee was held on October 8, rather than on the third Thursday of the month as ordinarily scheduled, because of our Progam’s international workshop in Ethiopia, which will get underway from October 20.

Given that we are halfway through FY2003, the meeting received reports on the activities of respective field stations (FS). The reports on ongoing negotiations concerning the conclusion of the MOUs, activities of graduate students sent abroad, plans for local workshops and schedules for the coming year, all pointed to spirited activities by the respective stations, raising expectations for future developments. The contents of the reports will be uploaded into the “Recent Developments” section for each FS in the “Outline of Field Stations” on the Web site.

Following the FS reports, there were discussions on whether these reports should be made regularly, and whether joint report meetings should be held for the purpose of selectively strengthening the activities of well-performing FS’s. It was agreed that the next report on FS activities should be scheduled for January 2004, and that the number of FS’s should be reduced over time from the current 14, and that we should consider ways to select priority FS’s in order to continue to operate them even after the conclusion of the 21st Century COE Program at the end of FY2006.

Concerning the upcoming Ethiopian Workshop, it was reported that “Preparations are under way for the workshop. Four of the seven graduate students participating in the event are already in the country, taking turns preparing for the workshop. Details of the workshop have already been distributed via e-mail. The official program will be completed very shortly. Of those scheduled to make presentations, two had to cancel due to visa problems or work schedules. The pamphlet on the workshop can be downloaded from the Web site. One hotel room has been rented to serve a base for the field station.” This report made all of us feel as if we were already there at the workshop; it vividly depicted the efforts of the head of the field station for Ethiopia and the graduate students involved to make the workshop successful.

Having a Web site with rich content should be one of the special features of the Program. Previously, reports from faculty members sent overseas under the Program were simply locked away in the files kept by the Secretariat. From now on, these reports will be uploaded to the Web site. We are considering the format for this purpose and planning to offer them in an easy-to-read way with the attachment of pictures. From the viewpoint of the integration of research and on-site education in the field, it will be interesting to compare what students and faculty advisers who shared time in the field will write in their respective reports.

On another topic regarding the Web site, there was a report on the Japanese-language mail magazine, “Integrated Area Studies INFOrmation Magazine,” which uses the abbreviated title “IAS-INFOM.” The inaugural issue will be distributed on October 17, through www.mag2.com, an online distributor. It will be issued once a month. The distribution is to begin one year ahead of the original plan, and the people involved in this effort deserve our full appreciation.

The Committee also received and discussed a report on the results of the selection of students to be sent to FS’s in the second half of the fiscal year. There were four applicants for the Asia Section, and five for the Africa Section. The dispatch of three of the four applicants for the former, and all five for the latter, was recommended and endorsed by the Committee.

Finally, there were some discussions on future symposiums and workshops.

First, the Graduate Student Workshop is to be held in Japan during the next fiscal year. The plan is to hold it under an overall title that integrates the academic interests of social sciences and natural sciences. It will also be designed as a forum to announce the interim results of FS education in the field. In order to facilitate the documentation of on-site-education, with the eventual release of its results at the workshop in mind, the Committee decided to consider some budgetary measures based on competitive principles.

In the fiscal year after next (the fourth year of the 21st Century COE Program), we are planning to hold a large-scale symposium overseas. The planning of the symposium, the venue of which will be Bogor, Indonesia, will be led by the Bogor FS. For this event, we need to apply for a grant from the Kyoto University Foundation by May of next year, and we will soon begin full-fledged preparations for the application.

In the final year of the Program, we expect to hold an international symposium in Japan to wrap up the research activities of the Program.

As we enter the second half of the second year of the Program, we are coming to the stage where we need to coordinate and manage our activities with a view of the total picture of the Program. As everyone seems very busy this autumn, it may be difficult for most of us to fully enjoy the famous autumn leaves of Kyoto this year.

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