Professor Takemura, a researcher of human-computer interaction, manages international programs for the Humanware Innovation Program. Here, Professor Takemura shares his views on the importance of an international awareness that can be naturally acquired though daily activities towards making progress in research that has a global perspective.
International, interdisciplinary experiences in the classroom
One of the international collaborative interdisciplinary courses in the Humanware Innovation Program (HWIP) is International Interdisciplinary Studies, being developed by myself and Professor Fujiwara, of the security engineering lab in the Graduate School of Information Science and Technology. This is intended as a preliminary course for students planning to participate in internships at universities and research institutions abroad, and its major feature is that it is conducted in an English-language medium with the involvement of researchers invited from overseas.
Games are interdisciplinary research
One of our most notable seminars in terms of interdisciplinary studies is the seminar on interactive game design, which we run with the assistance of a professor from the Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts in the United States. Interactive games are imbued with the idea of “human-computer interaction” whereby systems are designed to integrate computerized and human activity. Also, the games must integrate features such as storylines, music, and moving images, which distinguishes them from conventional online systems such as those used in banks. Expertise in cognitive science is essential, making game design a highly interdisciplinary exercise.
Researching in a global environment
Universities are under growing pressure to globalize their educational curricula. In order to do so, it is essential to develop an international environment in which students can interact naturally with students from other countries on campus. In my research lab, there are sixteen Japanese students and nine international students from overseas, making a domestic-international ratio of 2:1. We have students from all around the world: Germany, U.S., Greece, Vietnam, People’s Republic of China, Taiwan, and Brazil. The lab has been operating for twelve years now, but international students numbers have not always been so high. We have evolved gradually into an international research lab, attracting students via the networks developed through research collaborations with universities outside Japan.
I feel sure that if we can create an environment in which Japanese students take it for granted that they will need to communicate with colleagues from overseas and produce research papers in English, a solid basis for global research activity will develop naturally.
Motivation to compete in the international arena
In the future, there are sure to be more and more international students in HWIP. No matter where you are from, if you are hoping to make your mark in a certain field, you are likely to be exposed to global competition, and will be required to adopt a global outlook. In the field of computer science, the era when it was sufficient to publish our findings in Japanese alone is long gone. We conduct our research in healthy competition with experts from across the globe. I hope that HWIP students, too, will overcome their trepidation, and go forth boldly to assert themselves on the world stage.