Characteristics of Our Hub

Osaka University and Kyoto University embrace a group of Japan’s most distinguished researchers in diverse fields ranging from the humanities and social sciences to the natural sciences, engineering, medicine, pharmaceutics, and agriculture. The most salient characteristic of our hub is that, in this circumstance, we can receive constant feedback from on-site research and reflect it in our education. Through the collaboration between two universities and in accordance with extensive research trends in science and technology, it is possible to (1) promote social scientific and humanistic research and education on the Ethical, Legal and Social Issues (ELSI) of science and technology and (2) nurture human resources with broad and long-term perspectives for science for policy.

Furthermore, Osaka University and Kyoto University are closely affiliated with the Kansai area business sector and local governments, and they actively promote cooperation and exchange through the research, development and use of science and technology. In addition, by encouraging the participation of citizens, NGOs/NPOs, and other civil society organizations in public engagement with science and technology, our hub contribute to promoting science and technology policies as well as research and development that more accurately reflects the needs, conditions, and issues of local communities. This must have great significance for nurturing human resources for science for science policy.

Since its establishment in 2005, Osaka University Center for the Study of Communication Design (hereafter, CSCD) has served as a hub for research and practice of public engagement in Japan and has carried out many social practices and research projects. In addition, linked to those social practices, the center provides all the graduate students of Osaka University, irrespective of their disciplines, with education of science and technology communication. Furthermore, CSCD as a whole practices “Society–University Cooperation,” that connect knowledge of universities and knowledge of society in various fields such as welfare, medical care, local community building, arts and performance as well as science and technology. The education of CSCD includes active engagement of students with those social activities. At this hub, based on the foundation of such activities and education, we continue to cultivate human resources with theoretical and practical abilities for public engagement.

On the other hand, research and education on ethical, legal, and social issues in science and technology (ELSI) are indispensable to carry out more effective and meaningful practice and analysis of public engagement in policy making. ELSI research originated in the life sciences, and it has since expanded to include a wide variety of disciplines and fields related to science and technology, including information and communication technology, robotics, nanotechnology, energy and nuclear power, the environment, natural resources, and disaster prevention and mitigation. Osaka University and Kyoto University are rich reservoirs of research and education in the fields of life sciences and medicine in which ELSI research and education originated. We believe that, by promoting the research and education of ELSI for a broad spectrum of disciplines on the basis of this reservoir, public engagement practice and analysis such as technology assessment will surely become more multifaceted and insightful.