What's New from the Secretariat April

On April 7th, ASAFAS held the entrance ceremony for incoming graduate students for the new academic year. This event did not in any way influence the scheduling of our monthly meeting, yet it so happened that this month’s Executive Committee Meeting was held one week earlier than usual, on the 8th, the day following the ceremony. Starting this month, two newly appointed research associates of ASAFAS joined the Executive Committee. Also, the administrative assistant in charge of the website attended the Meeting, as we felt her attendance would be beneficial for the discussion of the impending mid-term evaluation hearing, which will be mentioned later.

The report items began with an explanation of the final status of the execution of the FY2003 budget. It was reported that the budget execution has been completed with no lending or borrowing between divisions or sections. We would like to thank the accounting staff for all their hard work. There was also an explanation from the Research Promotion Section on the basic policy regarding the use of a total of 1.6 million yen in budget for promoting the seminars, both domestic and overseas.

The chair of the working group of the graduate student workshop gave an update on further progress. As reported in last month’s What’s New from the Secretariat, it was decided that the Working Group would be run at the initiative of young faculty members and graduate students. At this month’s meeting, it was pointed out that the title Working Group doesn’t adequately convey the active involvement of graduate students in the planning and management of the workshop, and so a proposal was made to rename it the “Workshop Organizing Committee.” This was approved.

Next, there were two agenda items. First, the Network Section, citing the need for managing and updating the website, proposed adding one more administrative assistant, and after discussion, approval was given for this move. Considering that our Program emphasizes the website as almost the sole medium for disseminating information on our Program’s activities, the conclusion was that this is something that had to be done. It was decided that the Secretariat reserve fund would be used for our share of the expenses.

Also in connection with the website, data presented by the COE leader showed that access to our website is skyrocketing. Following the installation of a counter on May 26th, 2003, we reached 5,000 hits on October 26th, 2003, 10,000 hits on January 6th, 2004, 15,000 hits on February 20th, 2004, and 20,000 hits on April 7th, 2004. In other words, what began as an average of 33 hits a day has become an average of more than 100 a day since the beginning of this year. Numbers are not everything, but these were very encouraging figures for the members of the Executive Committee.

The most important agenda item this month was the hearing for the mid-term evaluation. It was reported that the hearing for our Program will be held in the afternoon of May 18th in Tokyo, and there were discussions on how to prepare for it. Each program will be given a 30-minute hearing, comprising a 10-minute presentation by the leader, followed by a 15-minute question and answer session, with the remaining 5 minutes used by the evaluation committee for its deliberations. The Secretariat’s proposal was for the meeting to be attended by the COE leader, the new dean of ASAFAS, and the director of CSEAS. This plan was approved.

At the Meeting, the leader distributed the outline of the presentation to be made at the hearing as well as a list of materials to be readied for it, and a lively exchange of opinion was held based on these documents. At times like this, one can say that two heads (or twenty-one heads in our case) are decidedly better than one. From now on, plans are for the COE leader to draw up the mandatory presentation documents based on the ideas discussed at the Meeting, and to submit these on May 10th to the University’s Administration Bureau. In addition, the leader and the Secretariat will compile other supplementary presentation documents, also based on the ideas discussed at the Meeting, to distribute at the hearing. It seems the most sensible thing to do now is to make our best efforts, and to cross our fingers.

In relation to the compilation of supplementary presentation documents for the hearing, there was also a discussion regarding the International Workshop to be held during the last year of the Program. It is scheduled to be held in November 2006 in Kyoto, as an international symposium, to which we will invite scholars from Japan and abroad for presentations. With regards to the contents, the head of the Research Promotion Section voiced the opinion that since the symposium will be a forum for presenting the fruits of the COE Program and 2006 will also be the year before the tenth anniversary of ASAFAS, it should be a forum for discussion on the frontiers of area studies, or a place to talk about “the current state and future dreams of area studies.” More detailed contents of the symposium will be considered within this month by the Research Promotion Section.

Partly because this month is the first of the new fiscal year, there were few agenda items and reports. We anticipated finishing earlier than the allotted two hours, but contrary to these expectations, the Meeting actually went ten minutes over. This shows how lively the discussions were on the hearing for the mid-term evaluation and the international symposium to be held in the last year of the Program.

Back Number >>