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New Year Issue (Jan.)


Creating Connections with Citizens
University Social Partnerships
-Creating New Value-


Three-Way Discussion

Within Waseda University's social partnership projects, there are a variety of possibilities for the partnership between our university and local communities to change the form of our university in society. In regards to the current state of such changes and to relevant issues, we held an exchange of opinions from the perspectives of the university and the community.

New university-community relationship that connects people

Photograph: Satoru Kaneko

Mr. Masahiro Yoshida (center)
Entered government employment in Yokohama City after graduating from the Waseda University School of Commerce. Has served as Economic Policy Section Chief, Management Support Section Chief, and Industrial Finance Section Chief. Currently serves as Director & Secretary General of the Yokohama IDEC Foundation.

Mr. Shinichi Tomonari (left)
Graduated from the University of Tokyo Graduate School of Engineering. Entered the MITI (Ministry of International Trade and Industry; currently the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry). Served as Director of the MITI Russia & Eastern Europe Office and as Project Planning Officer at the MLIT (Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport) before assuming his current position from 2007.

Mr. Ryuichi Okuyama (right)
Employed as a university staff member after graduating from the Waseda University School of Letters, Arts, and Sciences I. Assumed his current position after serving in the Office of Physical Education, the Administrative Systems Development Section, and the Personnel Division.

University as a resource that invigorates the community

Okuyama: Today, within the social partnership projects of Waseda University, I would like to place particular focus on partnerships with the community and to discuss the current status and relevant issues from the perspectives of both our university and the community. Mr. Yoshida, you serve as Secretary General of the Yokohama IDEC Foundation (hereafter referred to as "IDEC"), an organization which has partnerships with universities throughout Japan. What is the objective of those partnerships?

Yoshida: IDEC is an affiliated organization of Yokohama City. The IDEC is charged with supporting the 107,000 small and mid-sized businesses that exist within Yokohama City, and with ensuring the growth and development of such companies. Incidentally, 3 years ago we were notified by the city that the subsidies issued to our foundation would be reduced to zero after 5 years. A as result of various reforms, we have cut our expense by 500 million yen. However, the most important issue is not cost reduction; rather, it is providing high quality service to corporations within the city. It is said that we are currently experiencing an economic crisis that only occurs once within 100 years. Unending innovation is required in order for corporations to survive, and information is necessary for such innovation. Therefore, in addition to local banks, we have also formed partnerships with megabanks that possess global information, and have started relationships with universities that act as "vaults" of knowledge.

There are 9 science and engineering universities in Yokohama City. Those universities were fine for the conventional science and engineering partnership between industry, academia, and government. However, there are no universities that possess an agricultural school or a marine resources school that can cover bio-fields, agricultural fields, and other fields which are subject to increasing needs in recent years. Therefore, we formed partnerships with national universities throughout Japan. From 2007, we have expanded our network with private universities throughout Japan, starting with Tokai University. The partnership with Waseda University was our first partnership with a university outside of Kanagawa Prefecture. Through a partnership with a general university like Waseda, we have expectations not only for the knowledge of the university, but also for connections with university graduates (refer to paragraph 1 below).

Tomonari: During my 25 years of employment in central government, I considered ways to invigorate Japan. Ever since the period known as the "lost decade", Japan has lacked energy. So, I focused on the development of resources which had not been used-namely, universities, communities, and government.

Small countries such as Finland stand at the top of rankings for the competitive power of countries. Even in the case of small countries with scarce natural resources, they utilize the resources of universities and make full use of human resources. Although Japan is in the same situation as such countries, our universities resources are not being fully utilized.

During the past dozen or so years, Japan has seen a great number of partnerships between industry, academia, and government in the field of science and engineering. However, except for a few exceptions, I get an impression that significant results have not been produced. The field of science and engineering is only a small part of the resources of a university. In order to fully utilize universities, we must use the ability of students which is the greatest resource that a university has to offer.

Furthermore, we must further utilize community resources. I expect that the world will become much more interesting if we are able to couple universities and communities and conduct reciprocal use for the resources of each party.

Okuyama: The comprehensive agreement with Sumida Ward in 2002 marked the beginning of full-scale social partnership by Waseda University. I have been employed as university staff for over 30 years, but, at first, I did not understand the concept of the university forming partnerships with communities and corporations. Luckily, I received many hints from Professor Tomonari, which really helped. In form, the comprehensive agreement of Sumida was conducted between the university President and the ward Director. However, in actuality, employees of the Small and Mid-Sized Business Center in Sumida Ward and staff at Waseda's Center for the Promotion of Industry-Academia-Government Partnerships work passionately as mutual partners. By producing new ideas while creating a chemical reaction between the two parties, I hear that the two parties are advancing a variety of projects that enable use of each other's resources (refer to paragraph 2 below).

Tomonari: That's right. Initially, the comprehensive agreement with Sumida assumed manufacturing related to science and engineering. However, President Shirai pronounced that community development is the aim of the partnership with Sumida, and the scope of the project was broadened. Also, in any case, the partnership is advanced by people. Although the comprehensive agreement itself is simply a single piece of paper, positive results can be guaranteed if each counterpart to the agreement has the ability to understanding their own resources and to develop their organization.

Okuyama: Afterwards, based on the partnership with Sumida, agreements were conducted with Honjo City, Kawaguchi City, Saga Prefecture, Nara Prefecture, and Mr. Yoshida's IDEC-and these are just examples of partnerships that I was involved in. In the case of corporations, agreements have also been conducted with Nissan Motor Company and NHK Enterprises. There is a general trend in the world for moving from conventional fields of science and engineering to a broader range of partnerships in fields such as the humanities and agriculture. Currently, I am investigating the types of community partnerships being conducted by universities located in rural area. My research shows that universities place great value on relationships with the community. Universities also give consideration to the development of professionals that will benefit the community and to acceptance of the community's needs. Particularly in the case of small and mid-sized universities in rural areas, I feel that these issues are the very reason for a university's existence and the key to the survival of a university.

Tomonari: Within that survey, a search is being conducted for the reason behind the success of partnerships between universities and communities. However, there is a tendency of the world just to view the form of things, so debate will be superficial unless those successes are examined in great detail. Through the horizontal development of factors behind significant successes, I believe that the resources of universities can be used more skillfully.

Okuyama: Within successful university social partnerships, there is active effort by students and university staff in addition to the work of faculty. Positive relationships are also constructed with municipal governments, chambers of commerce, and commercial districts. Mr. Yoshida, you have visited universities from Hokkaido to Kyushu in order to conduct agreements with several dozen schools. What are your feelings on this issue?

Yoshida: It is exactly as you say. The key to advancing a partnership lies in the method of developing key personnel. Although there are various patterns depending on the university, the successful universities have instructors and staff who are passionate about partnerships with the community. However, the method of community partnerships is different at universities like Waseda, which have a large number of students and are promoting globalization, and at rural universities with only a few thousand students.

Okuyama: In the case of both rural universities and universities located in the Tokyo metropolitan area, there is the perspective of valuing the community around one's university and there is the perspective of expanding globally. Through my experience of managing the agreement with Saga Prefecture, I felt the difference between the impression of those involved in the project and the impression of external parties. Since Saga Prefecture was the birthplace of Okuma Shigenobu, I had believed that the Waseda brand was strong in the area. However, in actuality Eto Shinpei is more popular than Okuma Shigenobu in Saga Prefecture, and it seems that the only image of Waseda University is as a metropolitan university. Therefore, we are working to convey the appeal of Waseda by holding joint lectures and by increasing the level of exposure in local newspapers (see paragraph 3 below).

The first step of the project is love for the community

Tomonari: I would now like to summarize and organize the relationship between our university and the community. From the perspective of Waseda University, the MEXT (Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology) has given us the mission of social contribution in addition to education and research. However, there is no clear connection between the education, research, and social contribution that has been conducted at Waseda until now. Conversely, from the perspective of the community, it is desirable to use the "knowledge" of our university to invigorate the community. However, it is unclear what standards should be used to assess the energy level of the community. The tactful answer to this question is that the corporations within the community will be invigorated. Personally, I feel somewhat unsatisfied with this answer. Hypothetically, if the goal is to invigorate corporations, then it would be best to pay money for a consultant rather than to rely on a university. Furthermore, what is the meaning of government intervention in this process? I am left with an unpleasant feeling because the logic of invigorating a community has not been sufficiently developed.

Yoshida: I agree. In order to improve the management ability of a corporation, it would be best for a university to thoroughly develop managers through a School of Commerce or business school. However, within the managers of small and mid-sized corporations, there are people who do not understand bookkeeping. When the economy is healthy, things may go smoothly for such managers because they possess businesses or real estate that has been inherited from their parents. However, in times like the current economic recession, they often go bankrupt. I believe that education of managers is vital. Speaking of which, in just 1 year, the Shoka Village School established in the Edo Period by Yoshida Shoin was able to produce professionals who influenced the country. I have been involved in regional economics for 30 years, and the greatest problem is that there is no one to give instruction in the management of small and mid-sized corporations.

So, when considering what it means to invigorate the community, isn't the best answer that university knowledge should supplement and strengthen the identity held by the community? For example, Kagoshima is famous for shochu (distilled liquor), and Kagoshima University possesses the only shochu research center of any university in Japan. Of course, the community in Kagoshima will certainly utilize such a research center. I believe in the form of a partnership which uses the seeds of a university to develop what will become the core of the community.

Tomonari: The greatest problem is that the community does not understand their own identity. Surprisingly, local citizens do not understand the value of their communities. It is important to encourage the expression and sharing of such value, and to give recognition to the value. This is the essence of community management theory, but I believe that such a process is not possible without the involvement of external parties. Furthermore, only parties who are able to pinpoint the essence of matters and who have knowledge of cases in other communities are able to enact such as process. However, consultants aren't really able to deeply enter the emotional world of identity. For this very reason, I believe that there is significant meaning in the involvement of a university, or academia which is removed from the foxhole of social construction.

Yoshida: I agree that there is value which can only be understood by external parties. Strangely enough, the key individuals of the rural national universities which conduct successful community partnerships are all external parties. However, they possess a strong love for that community. Personally, although I was born in Osaka, I studied at Waseda University and am employed at Yokohama City Hall, and I am working my hardest for the good of Yokohama.

Tomonari: Students from a Community Management Seminar are deployed to Sumida Ward, and the first thing that we tell the students is "please grow to love Sumida Ward". The essence of a relationship between individuals and a community is the extent to which individuals love the community and give their energy to the community. This is the first big step in a community partnership project. Therefore, when a university conducts a community partnership, it is necessary to focus on the community which is home to the campus.

From community partnerships, students acquire the sensibility to accept actual issues

Okuyama: Recently, I lead a group of 20 students for a week's stay in Kijimadaira Village, located in Nagano Prefecture. The project consisted of conducting fieldwork and making proposal to invigorate the area experiencing depopulation. Each student visited the homes of villagers and spoke directly with local citizens. On the final day of the project, a presentation was made at the Village Office. Of course, it is difficult for students to propose solutions which can actually be implemented. However, it seems that the village was invigorated by having the students visit and seriously consider the situation of the village. Students also experienced a change in attitude and grew significantly (refer to paragraph 4 below).

Tomonari: Previously, Mr. Yoshida mentioned the Shoka Village School. It is my belief that the school conducted education not only for the acquirement of knowledge, but also for the development of human qualities. The community desires professionals who can manage the community. Perhaps the best method is to deploy students to the community as in the Kijimadaira project. When confronted with reality, a change occurs in the hearts of students and they begin to seriously consider how to work for the good of the community. At first, the community may find the arrival of students to be an inconvenience. However, if students optimistically consider the needs of the community, a process occurs in which a fire is lit in the hearts of local citizens and the community is invigorated. The case of Kijimadaira truly showed the possibility of a win-win relationship in which our university developed professionals to manage then community and in which the community was invigorated during the process.

Okuyama: Last year, I visited state universities in America and saw that a great deal of exchange is conducted between such universities and the community. Students participate in the management of community corporations, NPOs, and the community itself, and a style of education is implemented which emphasizes involvement in actual issues (Authentic Project Program). The objective of this education was to unify the individual knowledge and skills held by each student in order to develop an ability known as "practical knowledge". As can be seen in the Professionals Workshop projects of Nissan Motor Corporation, ANA Strategic Research Institute, and Kijimadaira Village, students grow dramatically when confronting the actual issues found in the fields of corporations and society. I believe that university education is expected to develop the sensibility for accepting actual issues.

Universities as the promoter of exchange between people

Okuyama: Incidentally, what do you think are the strengths of Waseda University in terms of social partnerships?

Yoshida: One of the merits that IDEC has experienced through our partnership with Waseda University is the receipt of objective advice through the knowledge and experience of a general university. Another merit is the broad network held by Waseda. Waseda provides the unique opportunity for managers in Yokohama to have exchanges with managers in Sumida Ward, and to see onsite operations. I hope that Waseda will actively expand its accumulated knowledge and experience into other communities.

Tomonari: : Waseda possesses a great variety of culture and a great variety of resources, so I think that the university is capable of uncovering the identity of a number of regions.

Furthermore, the Director of the Development of University-Local Relations Liaison Office has been established at Waseda, so a system has been developed to flexibly coordinate the university's resources according to the community. When creating a relationship directly with a Professor, the project is limited to that Professor's area of expertise, and a partnership can only be formed within a narrow scope. The broad scope of partnerships at Waseda is a strength that is not found at other universities.

Okuyama: Finally, can you discuss the future image that is sought from the perspective of both parties in a partnership between the university and community.

Tomonari: From the perspective of our university, the main objective of education is the creation of professional who will act as model citizens. Therefore, it is necessary to utilize the community and society in order to acquire academic ability. As a result, it would be best to continually develop projects that please both parties and increase the significance of Waseda University's social presence.

Yoshida: Exactly. I believe that the creation of professionals is the only issue that can alleviate the feeling of stagnation that exists in Japan. In this respect, there are great expectations for universities. Currently, I believe that Waseda University possesses the greatest amount of potential in regards to this issue.

I am fond of the lyrics found in the 3rd verse of the school song: "gathering and dispersing-people will change-but faith is the same-the ideal brilliance". In other words, areas which are unvisited by people will decay, but it is not always necessary to remain stopped in such areas. If people move, there will be exchanges of information and knowledge. In order to invigorate a community, it is necessary for people to engage in communication, and our university is expected to promote such exchanges.

Tomonari: There is particular significance in the lyrics which state "but faith is the same-the ideal brilliance". Gathering and dispersing is fine as long as there is sharing of a fundamental philosophy as to why our university exists and to why we form relationships with the community.

Human beings grow by loving and giving energy to something other than themselves. Similarly, our university grows by loving and giving energy to the community. Furthermore, as a result of that growth, the community is invigorated and a win-win relationship is realized. I believe that this will become the fundamental thought of partnerships between our university and the community.

1. Yokohama Project

Yokohama Next-Generation Management School. Managers gather from a variety of industries.

?The "Fundamental Agreement for Support of Small and Mid-Sized Corporation in Yokohama City" was conducted with Yokohama IDEC in July 2008. The agreement seeks to utilize community resources while implementing a partnership covering the two aspects of personnel development at local corporations within Yokohama City and career formation for Waseda University students.

Currently, a variety of efforts are being made to ensure the sustainable development and growth of the Yokohama economy. These efforts include the creation of a system for personnel development at local small and mid-sized corporations which are the main source of invigoration for the local economy (Yokohama Next-Generation Management School). Furthermore, support is being conducted for corporate management through partnerships with foreign institutions, foundations and university, with a focus on the Asia region. University professors also provide cooperation and advice for the activities of foundations.

2. Sumida Ward Project

Project operation is performed by students of the Community Management Seminar.

In December of 2002, the "Comprehensive Business Partnership Agreement" was conducted under the philosophy of positioning Sumida Ward as a pseudo-campus of Waseda University and utilizing the resources of Sumida Ward as an environment for practical education. As a partnership activity, a project was started for the development of new products and new technology in the "Sumida Industry-Academia-Government Partnership Club", an organization established with a focus on small and mid-sized corporations within Sumida Ward. Furthermore, a partnership was formed with Waseda University laboratories to conduct a "Multicultural Coexistence Seminar" which offers lectures and study groups in regards to culture with the theme of "Sumida" and in regards to the community of people living in Sumida Ward. In the "Community Management Seminar", which is conducted mainly through the efforts of seminar students at Waseda University, contact is established with corporations and citizens in the community in order to exchange opinions regarding a variety of community issues, and to plan and implement solutions for those issues. Furthermore, for the purpose of creating the next generation of professionals, "Education for Entrepreneurs (Entrepreneurship)", "Do School in Kamizumi" and other projects focusing on elementary students living within Sumida Ward are conducted through partnerships with venture corporations started by Waseda Corporation.

3. Saga Project

Lecture conducted by remote communication at Saga-Shimbun Culture Center

In December of 2006, the "Fundamental Agreement Regarding Cooperation for the Strengthening of Partnerships" was conducted with Saga Prefecture, the birthplace of Okuma Shigenobu. The agreement is intended to promote activities the Waseda University 125th Anniversary Project and to strengthen the partnership of both parties. Within the agreement, prefectural policy groups and the Development of University-Local Relations Liaison Office are positioned as counterparts and a wide range of activities are conducted that utilize the organizational strength of both parties. Government employees of Saga Prefecture are deployed to Waseda University for long periods of time. While stationed at the Development of University-Local Relations Liaison Office, the employees perform onsite coordination for various partnership activities. As part of the project for creating a "Mecca of Learning" in Kyushu, a partnership has been formed with the Saga-Shimbun Culture Center. Within the partnership, Waseda University Professors travel to Saga to conduct lectures, and remote communication lectures are broadcasted from the Waseda Campus. Additionally, partnerships are being advanced with Saga City, Karatsu City, and Saga University. The exchange between Saga Prefecture and Waseda University continues to expand even further.

4. Kijimadaira-Waseda Professionals Workshop

Fieldwork in Kijimadaira Village. Students listen attentively to local citizens.

"Professionals Workshop" is a project in which teams of Waseda students propose solutions for problems confronting corporations and municipal government. In 2009, a Professionals Workshop was started in Kijimadaira Village, which is located in the northern part of Nagano Prefecture. Within the workshop, teams of students work together with citizens of Kijimadaira Village in order to consider and propose measures for the invigoration of the region. During the fieldwork conducted in Kijimadaira Village from August 2nd to 7th, students received instruction from employees of the Village Office, and also formed a partnership with students at Shimotakai-Norin High School. In October, after making proposals at Kijimadaira Village Office for invigoration of the region, a final presentation was given at the National Forum for Rural Village Exchange which was held in Kijimadaira Village.