What's New from the Secretariat November

The 43rd Executive Committee meeting was held just as the flurry of activities surrounding the Kyoto Symposium quieted down, and as the graduate students and COE researchers who had finished their important tasks involving the running of the symposium went abroad to do fieldwork. The meeting opened with a report that with regard to the application for additional budget made in October, an additional outlay equivalent to 3% of the original total had been granted, and approval was given to using the extra funds, along with the remainder of the program’s budget that has already allocated, as additional expenditures for the publication of outcomes of research and educational activities and for the activities of the Library Section.

Next, there was a report on the external review of the program asked for by the university administration. In the middle of October, we asked a panel of five foreign and four Japanese researchers to conduct the external review, and so far have received reports from seven of the members. They have given us uniformly high marks, but in particular with regard to fieldwork, which is a major focus of the program, we received praise including, “The objectives of this programme . . . were extremely timely . . . [and] addressed the problems raised by post-colonial critics. . . .” (Prof. James FAIRHEAD, University of Sussex), and “It has the potential to contribute to new developments in humanities and social sciences” (UCHIBORI Motomitsu, Professor of The University of the Air). I think this is evidence that they highly evaluated the course we chose for the program. Also, regarding the priority we placed on area studies and education looking at both the Asian and African regions, we received particularly positive evaluations from foreign researchers specializing in area studies of Asia. Based on the current external review, our next task is to consider how to develop the program for the upcoming Global COE Program.

On the Kyoto Symposium, which was held from November 9-13, Dr. TAKADA Akira reported that there were a total of 350 participants, and that the budget had been essentially kept within the original plan. I think it is an important fruit of the program, from the perspective of nurturing human resources, that young researchers and graduate students took the initiative, albeit with advice from professors, for the planning, implementation, editing of proceedings, creation of posters, and logistics for such a large-scale symposium. The professors who attended the symposium were very impressed by this point. The eight satellite workshops were also generally well appraised, and plans are already underway to publish the outcomes (in English). There were even examples, such as the session entitled “Expanding the Horizon of Area Studies through Film Presentation,” where the papers were already published in time for the workshop. The publication, “Seeing, Filming, and Showing Asia and Africa! New Frontiers of Video Anthropology,” included a DVD with videos taken and edited by the authors. It is a valuable outcome of the program, as a new method of area studies and as the publication of results.

From the Public Relations Section, there was a presentation on the updating and access to the website. There was also an explanation of the plan to convert the contents of the website onto a DVD at the end of the fiscal year, and the design of the DVD case was presented. Our website is an important place for conveying the activities of the program, and is also an important outcome of the program, as it is replete with contents that are appropriate for the multimedia age. We would very much like to preserve these precious records and experiences in the form of a DVD.

For agenda items, there was a discussion on participation in the report meeting on 21st Century COE Programs in the field of “area studies,” to be held in early March next year at the initiative of the Science Council of Japan (SCJ). In response to the request by the SCJ for the greatest participation possible, we decided to send several people, and have obtained funds for their travel expenses.

Finally, there was discussion on the contents and authors for the final report of the program, which is scheduled to be published at the end of the fiscal year. With the goal of completing the print-ready manuscript by the end of February and having it printed within March, it was decided to urgently ask the heads of the divisions and sections to write reports. There are only four months left in the program, which has lasted for four years. There is little time left, but we are at a critical point where we must leave behind the outcomes in a variety of forms.(Ichikawa)

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