Toward Brightly Sparkling Shiga University

I have been appointed to the position of President since April. During my four-year term, I am resolved to do my best for advancing Shiga University toward a “Brightly Sparkling University” in promoting research and education, as well as developing further collaboration with society.

In the coming academic year, Shiga University will enter a new era as we usher in our third mid-term. We, Japan’s national universities, live in turbulent times. We have faced various criticisms and demands, including calls for university innovation; improved contribution to society; restructuring of humanities and social sciences departments. However, since many universities have neglected their relations with society, I do not believe that society fully understands the role of universities, the purpose of learning, and the significance of the humanities and social sciences.

In the humanities and social sciences as well as the teacher training program—disciplines that are particularly often far removed from the production activities we see taking place in our lives—research achievements have not always reflected the issues that society faces. Such positions are now being called into question.

Accordingly, Shiga University will weather this period of turbulence, adopting the following three pillars to build Shiga university that shines brightly while drawing on a vast array of intellectual assets assembled to date.

1) A University that Confronts the Issues of Modern Society

Universities should serve as a base for the intellectual creation that takes place in society, and Shiga University will thus keep in mind the various issues facing society as we pursue our research activities. This does not simply mean that we will focus exclusively on practical studies. Rather, each research project will keep in mind its relevance to society and clarify the theoretical foundations underpinning the diverse phenomena and activities of society. As part of this vision, it is crucial to promote “problem-solving” and “proposal-based” research through interdisciplinary collaborations. Universities’ academic contributions to society are essential in arousing the intellectual curiosity of the students studying on their campuses and nurturing talented individuals who can contribute to the region and head out into the world.

2) Reverse-π (pie) Education and Research and Γ (gamma) Human Resource Development through Integration of Arts and Sciences

In the 2017 academic year, Shiga University will establish the Faculty of Data Science—the first such faculty in Japan. Although this will be a science faculty, it is also important to remember that modern society will not advance if the sciences and humanities remain divided. In the real world, humanities and science are moving forward hand-in-hand, capitalizing on each other’s strengths, with each specialist field on the y-axis and our capacity to understand each other and survey the whole on the x-axis.

Shiga University will therefore advance its education and research activities with economy and education on the y-axis and data science on the x-axis. We call this the reverse-π (pie) model.

Both education and economics students will understand data and know how to handle it, while data science students will develop the ability to apply their knowledge and skills in any field by first mastering education and economics; they will all broaden their knowledge over a wide range of subject areas. We call this the Γ (gamma) model of human resource development.

3) Global Perspectives and Endeavors Rooted in the Region

Wherever we look these days, human activities are developing global dimensions. In Japan, and even here in Shiga, there are companies, organizations, and individuals doing business with the world, and our students have their sights set on global success. The educators trained in the Faculty of Education will provide their students with the impetus needed to push forward as they dream of achieving success on the global stage.

In terms of economics, the global economic environment is closely connected to our everyday lives without borders between regions, countries, and continents. Moreover, data flows freely across national boundaries, darting its way across the globe. With our roots firmly planted in the region and our sights set on the world, Shiga University will move forward expanding the capabilities and vitality that have grown here over the decades.

Our role will be to contribute to this development and personally open up new paths on this journey as witnesses to a new period of history, where we build a university that shines brightly. Students, young and enthusiastic, and staff/faculty members, with powers grounded in tradition and experience—let us join hands as we embark on this exciting new era.

Ryuichi Ida,
Shiga University