Students of Leading Graduate Schools across Japan come together for the first time

October 26 and 27, 2013 Nishi-Harima Local Industry Center, Himeji City, Hyogo Prefecture

Ten HWIP students participate in inaugural meeting

topics20131205_1The Program for Leading Graduate Schools is a national government program coordinated by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology. As of September, 2013, 44 programs were in operation in 24 graduate schools across Japan. The First Students Meeting of Leading Graduate Schools was initiated by students in the University of Hyogo’s program on “Next Generation Picobiology: Focused on Photon Sciences” as an opportunity for students to get to know each other’s programs, gain further inspiration, and build interpersonal networks. The idea was to have an event that differed from the usual teacher-student patterns of engagement; one that would encourage students to tackle problems for themselves and engage in student-to-student discussion and exchange of opinions. The event was organized and run entirely by a team of 61 students from 19 different Leading Programs. Ten students from HWIP were involved, developing event proposals and engaging actively in event operations.

On the first day of the event, the organizing team was joined by other students from around the country in a venue filled to capacity. The proceedings began with a keynote address by William Lee, who formerly studied at a Japanese university and now runs venture businesses in the US and Taiwan. Mr. Lee’s hope that students “become innovative leaders that value personal interaction” clearly struck a chord with the audience. Next, student representatives introduced their respective programs. The Humanware Innovation Program was represented by Junya Nakanishi, who used presentation slides to explain the program’s aims and its distinctive activities.

Guest speaker initiates lively discussion

The presentations were followed by a discussion forum conducted in English, with themes including “Japan’s shortcomings in comparison with other countries” and “what society expects of scientists”. Inspired by guest speaker Mr. Lee’s exhortation to “come up with ideas that make the most of your own cultural backgrounds”, students began to express their opinions vigorously, and a lively discussion ensued. The second day involved small group discussions and presentations on leadership, based on the theme of “human resources for tomorrow”. Students debated the key attributes of an ideal leader and developed a stronger sense of mission to lead Japanese society into the future.

act_p20131205_1This first-time event proved a valuable opportunity for students from different disciplines, universities and locations to get together and explore common themes. It was also an important springboard for the development of new student networks. For HWIP students, the encounter with students in other Leading Graduate School program was an opportunity to reflect on what they are capable of themselves, and where they are headed from now on.