Research Grant Program 2018
Comments by Selection Committee Chair
The University of Tokyo Faculty of Law
The University of Tokyo Graduate Schools for Law and Politics
The Toyota Foundation has adopted “Exploring New Values for Society” as the theme for its Research Grant Program. The objective is, in principle, to explore fundamental ways of thinking and methodologies to address difficult issues to be faced by future society in Japan and around the world and to support ambitious researchers who seek to create new values for society.
As can be seen in such issuess as responding to the aging population and globalization, there are diverse challenges in today’s society. A variety of social groups, corporations, and governments are constantly pressed for short-term responses to these issues that have manifested themselves. However, rather than responding to such apparent issues, this Research Grant Program contains expectations about discovering potential issues that are unclear as yet and looking ahead to new social values that address them. The first step for discovering potential issues is recognizing the various sites where there are signs of potential problems. Furthermore, looking ahead to new social values requires that we draw closer to new attempts in societies as they embrace such new social values. Discovering potential issues and looking ahead to new social values require, in each individual research project, that the researchers and practitioners collaborate in addition to cooperating with diverse researchers who have a range of perspectives. Although the projects selected this year differ in terms of the targeted research sites and the composition and size of their research teams, fundamentally they share this approach and are expected to develop into more robust research.
The application process of this fiscal year added the condition that the age of project representatives should be no more than 45 at the commencement of the grant. This does not have an intention of excluding a range of age groups in research study. In fact, participation by a range of age groups is desirable in order to bring in diverse perspectives. On the other hand, deepening the awareness of young researchers and enhancing their research management capabilities is considered indispensable to the discovery of potential issues in future society and clarification of the direction for new social values. As a result, the average age of the representatives of the selected projects this year is around 38. It is hoped that these research leaders will develop as intellectual entrepreneurs as they experience a range of challenges.
This fiscal year, a total of 12 projects were ultimately chosen from among the 361 applications. The number of projects chosen fell considerably compared with previous years as a result of the decision to focus on joint research as well as the reduction in the total amount for research grants. However, the program was able to select a broad range of projects. Below, as example, we introduce several projects that are very interesting.
D18-R-0122 Akira Yonezawa
Meiji gakuin University, Department of Sociology
How do ecosystems of social businesses contribute to their oraganizational persistence and career developpments of their enterpreneurs and staffs: Comparing social networks at four cities in Japan and Korea.
The project is an interesting study that seeks to empirically verify ecosystems around the important theme of social businesses and build a platform for creating the new social values of the future. It also has potential as an international comparative study by an international team that has the ability to collaborate in practical terms.
D18-R-0136 Koichiro Kokubun Tokyo Institute of Technology, Institute for Liberal Arts
Interdisciplinary research on autism across philosophy, medical science and psychoanalysis with a view to creating a new concept of 'diversity'.
The project is very interesting interdisciplinary research that will incorporate the diverse perspectives of philosophy, medical science, and psychoanalysis on autism. Through such research, it is expected to indicate directions for new values and to disseminate the results to society.
D18-R-0281 Loes Loning
University of Cape Town, South Africa, PhD Researcher
Generation After: The Reconstitution of Kinship and Family Relations in Post-Genocide Rwanda
This research seeks to address fundamental issues such as how human beings come to terms with the experience of violence and what are family and kinship relations through field analysis of how the children born as a result of sexual violence in Rwanda, which experienced genocide, have been accepted or not accepted by families and relatives. While joint research accounts for the majority of the selected projects, despite its limited perspective as an exploratory individual study, this research is sharply focused.