GEfIL Independent Research Project

Independent Research Project consists of Phase1 and Phase2.

The GEfIL Independent Research Project forms the centerpiece of this program and focuses on critical contemporary issues in 6 large, interdisciplinary, thematic fields (e.g. sustainability, diversity, conflict prevention & peace building, global health, global governance [risk; human rights], global economy). 

Students define and plan their own research projects within these fields. They are supervised by GLP and subject-specific mentors as well as by postgraduate teaching fellows. Interdisciplinary brainstorming sessions, special workshops and seminars with renowned guest speakers provide students with the opportunity to foster innovative thinking and test the practicability of their ideas. At the end of the year, students will give a (public) presentation of their projects and research outcomes.

GEfIL Independent Research Project (Year2 December to Year 3 May)

The main aim of Phase 1 is to provide students with interdisciplinary/transdisciplinary research skills, communication and presentation skills in English as well as team-working competencies. Students will need a good grasp of these skills, when embarking on their own research projects in Phase 2.
To this end, Phase 1 employs a project-based, single focus, “scaffolded” learning approach: Based on the ‘global issue’ interests that students mentioned in their GEfIL application forms, a large-scale scenario (case study) has been prepared, which will form the framework for students’ research projects.
Since the complexity of global issues usually demands collaboration between experts of diverse knowledge- and value-backgrounds, the research projects of Phase 1 will be carried out in interdisciplinary teams of students with similar interests but from different disciplines. Both as a team and individually, students will experience what it means to conduct ‘real’ research from the planning stages to the presentation of their findings. Each team will research, and propose solutions for, certain aspects of the set scenario, debate their ideas with other teams, explore meaningful collaborations, and consider the interests (and comments) of various experts and ‘stakeholders.’ Through this process, students will gain knowledge and experience in agenda setting, design and implementation of action and research plans, effective interdisciplinary teamwork, discussion and presentation skills.

The course is organized along two entwined strands:
1. a series of basic questions found frequently in transdisciplinary research projects and
2. a sequence of research skills students will acquire through structured tasks.

GEfIL Independent Research Project Phase1 Class Schedule for 2016 - 2017

  • Class 117th December, 2016 (Sat)
  • Class 224th December, 2016 (Sat)
  • Class 37th January, 2017 (Sat)
  • Class 44th February, 2017 (Sat)
  • Class 51st April, 2017 (Sat)
  • Class 615th April, 2017 (Sat)
  • Class 722nd April, 2017 (Sat)
  • Class 813th May, 2017 (Sat) Final Presentation

GEfIL Independent ReIndependent Research Project (Year 3 September to Year 4 May)

"Peace Buiding" by Prof. Kiichi FUJIWARA

~Class Outline~
How can lasting peace be built in a world torn asunder by the use of military force? The object for this thematic group on Peace Building is the use of military force that is spreading in forms of, for instance, international conflicts and civil war throughout the contemporary world. The aim of this course is to elucidate the reasons why such conflicts break out, and to consider the conditions for conflict resolution, the building of post-conflict political and legal orders, measures to prevent a re-emergence of conflict, and aspects of preventive diplomacy in regions where conflicts have not yet broken out. Through practical research students will gain a deeper understanding of fundamental issues such
as 1) the current situation of international conflicts and civil war, the
relationships between 2) religion and conflict, 3) ethnicities and conflict, 4) poverty and conflict, 5) terror and terror organizations, aspects of 6)
intervention and occupation, and 7) aid for refugees. Students should select a specific case of conflict to research measures necessary for peace building. The purpose of students’ research is not just to find out the facts of a specific conflict or to survey existing research on a specific region, but to combine such research and understanding of a specific conflict and develop an original, novel perspective.

I teach international conflicts and international politics at the University of Tokyo, both at the graduate and the undergraduate levels. The subject for this course, however, is one that transcends traditional academic boundaries. If international politics is a discipline that discuss the relationship between governments, the subject for peace building includes situations were we cannot observe credible state authority or power. How can we construct peace where there is no government? Taking cases from Sudan, Yemen, Somalia, Libya and Syria, I would like to invite you to this agenda.

"Global Economy&Management" by Prof. Takahiro FUJIMOTO

~Class Outline~
We aim to develop human resources, who can stand their ground on any big international stage and demonstrate without fail their competency. The majority of challenges big organizations face today, whether they are related to the large changes in the point of growth of the world economy or, on the other side, the increase in instability, can only be resolved by adopting a global perspective and understanding the global dynamics. Likewise, the accumulation and utilization of innovations and core competencies that support corporate management can no longer be considered without taking global dynamics into account. The challenge will be to explore the nature of the global economy in the future, by looking at how global corporations in Japan have tackled these issues and examine in detail the struggles they have met. To this end, not just corporate strategies but understanding of aspects ranging as wide as from corporate strategies, organizational structures, leadership to the life of a corporate person will surely be required. In this course, we will pursue intensive teamwork and compile our research results, while taking into account students’ intellectual interests and future career choices. This thematic group aims to provide students with the vision and attitude to grow into strong (management) leaders endowed with a global vision.

I took a year's leave of absence in my junior year of Todai Economics, studied at an East Coast university, and walk around many places in the US. In my senior year I was walking around rice paddies of Nagano and Chiba prefectures to do field studies of their irrigation systems. I skipped Todai's graduate school, became a company employee instead at a think-tank, and did client-sponsored research projects on small local shipyards, automobile factories worldwide and many others for several years. For complicated reasons I took leave of absence again, entered the doctoral course of the same East Coast university, did comparative field studies of automobile product development teams worldwide, got the degree in technology and operations management, and wrote a book called Product Development Performance (Clark and Fujimoto 1991). 

 Then, for some reasons I was recruited as Associate Professor of Todai Faculty of Economics. Beside teaching and book-writing, I worked with my colleagues to start up Todai Manufacturing Management Research Center (MMRC), in which we have almost daily communication and collaboration with people in factories, firms, industries and communities outside the campus. Last month, for instance, I visited 12 local factories and small firms all over Japan, finding time between classes and administrative meetings. At the same time, I am still doing joint international researches with major universities worldwide and lectures and seminars at academic conferences overseas.

"Global Health" by Prof. Chiho WATANABE

~Class Outline~
Issues covered by the term “global health” vary widely in their nature. A lot of issues are region-specific, but at the same time, other issues are global and shared by whole humans. Issues seemingly similar to each other actually exert much different impacts depending on the regions where they take place. Many issues in global health are found outside the hospital/clinic and not even within the hand of the health office; they are connected with many “non-medical” areas like demography, environment, sociology, nutrition (and agriculture),development, and sustainability, and thus, diverse in nature. If you consider, for instance, air pollution due to traffic jam, infectious diseases, or problems of water quality, you will notice that so many factors can be associated with such “health” issues. In this sense, global health is a good platform to nurture and encounter new ideas and viewpoints. In this theme group, students are expected to identify issue(s) of global health and scientific fields associated with that particular issue(s). Then, students will do a series of group discussion, sometimes with mentors or tutors, to develop ideas how to tackle the issue(s) taking many associated areas in perspective, which can potentially lead to ideas for practical solutions.

Chiho Watanabe is Professor at Department of Human Ecology, School of International Health, Graduate School of Medicine, The University of Tokyo (UTokyo) since 2005. He also has been a faculty member of IR3S/TIGS (the Integrated Research System for Sustainability Science) and EDITORIA (the Earth Observation Data Integration & Fusion Research Initiative) in UTokyo. He graduated from UTokyo and received his Ph.D. (Doctor of Health Science) from UTokyo in 1991. His background is toxicology, especially metal toxicology, and nutrition regarding essential trace elements. He has been interested in the effects of environmental chemicals associated with particular environmental/biological context and engaged in both experimental and field studies in this area. Thus, he has conducted many experimental studies on toxicant-nutrient interactions and on the interaction between chemical and physical/biological factors in terms of their health impact, particularly focusing on hazardous metals like mercury, cadmium, and arsenic. He has conducted field studies mostly in Asian countries. Some of these include, for example, arsenic contamination issues in Ganges area, changes in chemical environment associated with changes in subsistence in Asian countries, and use of the “earth observation data” for solving health-related issues associated with climate change.

"Diversity" by Prof.Shigeto SONODA

~Class Outline~
The aim of this project is to cultivate “global leaders” who can take necessary and appropriate actions in (multinational) companies, governmental sectors, or NGOs to respect (and sometimes utilize) cultural diversities. Economic globalization seems to be creating “cultural convergence” across nations, but this is not the case. Variety of cultures embodied in organizations or social groups (class, ethnic group, religious group, gender, local communities, etc.), nations or governing bodies have been maintaining their “cultural birthmarks” and differences and relations among them have been changing dynamically. In such complex situations, we need to create new values, which encourage our cooperation across the boundaries. In this project, participants are expected to conduct their own independent researches, based on their own intellectual as well as practical interests on concrete issues of cultural diversity. Group discussion and activities are strongly encouraged. Patience and concentration to design action plan and persuasiveness and passion to realize it will be nurtured in this project.

Since the beginning of 21st century, I have come to have more opportunities to organize collaborative research with foreign scholars and institutions. Recently, I go abroad more than ten times annually, roughly once in a month, which suggests how greatly and profoundly our research conditions have changed.

The same can be said to our educational environment. From 2000 to 2009 when I taught sociology courses in Chuo University and Waseda University, I worked with a lot of undergraduates and postgraduates in and out of Japan.  We organized international joint seminars with foreign partners every year, studied with more than 150 undergraduate as well as postgraduate students (or more than 500 students if students of foreign partner universities are included) within these 9 years.

After joining the University of Tokyo, my alma matter, after 19 years’ service for private universities, I lost such opportunities because I could find limited number of Japanese students in ITASIA course (in which all the courses are taught in English), GSII, whose management I have been in charge. Therefore, I’ve made the most of my opportunity, including designing and carrying out joint summer program with National Taiwan University and University of Hong Kong in 2013 and 2014 at Division of International Affairs, and conducting the project of “Second Wave of Asian Student Survey” in undergraduate class of sociology, which was initiated, carried out, and managed by undergraduate students in 2013, to see the potentials of Japanese undergraduate students.

My observation is that undergrads here have huge potentials; but, unfortunately, their exposure to international / global learning is very limited. What a pity! By getting support from graduate students as well as international students in the campus, I’d like to organize intellectually stimulating seminars on the issue of “diversity” to polish the talents of those who will join GLP-GEFiL Program. Ambitious students are most welcome!

"Sustainability" by Prof. Kensuke FUKUSHI

~Class Outline~
The smallest unit of society is the individual. Sustainability of the individual heavily depends on the sustainability of the family, of society, a region and indeed, the earth. Protection of an individual’s life and protection of a region’s society cannot be achieved without ensuring the sustainability of the whole earth. Sustainability should be achieved by a variety of scales and ideally, development plans, industrial activities, etc. would be executed on the basis of the concept of sustainability. In this ‘Sustainability’ theme group, we will examine from the viewpoint of sustainability various regions of the world and the difficulties they face regarding issues such as the environment, health, resources, development, human resources, industry, livelihood, culture, education, etc. and together we will consider possible solutions.

Kensuke Fukushi is a Professor of Integrated Research System for Sustainability Science (IR3S), The University of Tokyo Institutes for Advanced Study. He also has an appointment as a Visiting Professor at United Nations University Institute for the Advances Study of Sustainability.

Kensuke is a civil-environmental engineer and holds an appointment at the Graduate Schools of Engineering and Frontier Sciences, where he organizes Urban Sustainability Science Laboratory at the University of Tokyo, Japan. He is one of the founding faculty members of IR3S and achieved remarkable progress in promoting sustainability science in various academic communities. He serves as an Editorial Advisor of Sustainability Science Journal, the Science Planning Group member of Asian Pacific Network for Global Change Research, and Distinguished External Faculty member of Asian Institute of Technology. His research interests are environmental engineering, environment and health, urban-rural relationship, water environmental science, and sustainability science. He received his B.S. and M.S from Tohoku University in Civil Engineering, and his Ph.D. from the University of Utah in Civil Engineering.