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New Year Issue (Jan.)


Interview with the Vice-President

Solving social issues with a collected effort from industry, government, academia and the people.

We asked Vice-President Hashimoto, who oversees educational affairs departments such as academic affairs and research promotion, about the role universities should play in industry, government and academia cooperation and expectations for Waseda University.

The role of a university as a member of society

Shuji Hashimoto

Industry, government and academia cooperation is a natural form as a state of society. Society, by adding people to industry, government and academia, consists of "industry, government, academia and people". Industry is there for people to earn food to live, universities are there to conduct basic research which becomes food for the future, and to raise human resources to support society, and the government is there to ensure society flows smoothly. And the people are us, the individuals who make up society. In other words, industry, government and academia cannot exist without mutual cooperation, and through cooperation can make a better society.

Think about the slightly smaller framework of industry and academia cooperation. The role of universities in industry and academia cooperation is to reply to both everyday issues and issues of the future. Universities provide wisdom to the industrial world struggling with everyday issues and have an assisting role. However, this is nothing more than a stopgap measure. Universities find and research issues themselves, and are also required to give answers and hints to future issues.

Not only in science and technology, but also in the fields of humanities and social science, there are many areas in which higher education can contribute. After all, university is a focal point of wisdom where various researches take place in order to improve society. Shouldn't we be sending out more messages to society? When the president of Tokyo University said in a graduation congratulatory speech, "Instead of becoming fat pigs, become a thin Socrates", it made headlines, but in recent years there aren't many messages coming from universities that are becoming topics in society.

The relationship between universities and society is still weak. The single strong relationship is the nurturing of students and sending them out into society. Of course this is important, but it is not the only thing, the relationship between universities and society needs to be strengthened more.

Not only between industry and academia, but cooperation with the people is also desired. By providing wisdom to the various activities of regional communities and volunteer groups etc., there are many things a university can contribute to. In order to solve the many problems and international society issues that confront Japan, a collect effort from industry, government, academia and the people is needed. Breaking down barriers, working together on a daily basis, and carrying out their respected roles is necessary.

Create innovation and present society with new values

There are expectations from the industrial world for this university. From the point of human resource creation, our graduates have been highly rated for their ability to remain undaunted when finding new things. Our research is not limited to the environment and energy of the Honjo project, we have many strong fields in science and engineering, humanities and social sciences. Highlighting the doctrine "Practical Utilization of Knowledge", to our university, which has contributed to the modernization of Japan by making real use of knowledge, industry, government and academia cooperation, is an indispensable mission. This isn't by passively taking orders from and rendering service to the industrial world. We are aiming for an existence that creates science techniques and social culture, and provides new value in the world.

In order to do so, it is important to strengthen the basic research that bears new seeds, and we must protect the free ethos that promotes creativity. Looking at the present situation, this is not limited to Waseda, but professors are becoming extremely busy and using up a lot of their time outside of proper educational and research activities. We rely a lot on individual efforts, but in order to guarantee time for research, it is necessary for us to systematically improve this situation. On top of the university deepening open cooperation with society, this is an extremely important issue.

For this university to raise its own value as a member of society, we are required to raise the quality of cooperation between industry, government, academia and the people. In consultations, we need to show that we are reliable like a retired person who is readily willing to pass on his wisdom, and we must actively dispatch messages that will improve the world around us.

The ultimate goal of a university is to create wisdom in order for people throughout the world to spend each day in good spirits. In a time where we can walk down the street and have a conversation with someone on the other side of the world on a TV phone, have we forgotten to have dreams? A university's role is to think of how to better a currently discontent society and create loftier dreams. Then, by freely using that wisdom we can bridge the gap between new dreams and reality.

The Honjo Smart Energy Town Project, which started in 2011, is a project which has brought together all the energy of industry, government, academia and people. Waseda is testing its ability towards the realization of a dream town that can solve various issues such as energy problems. I want us to succeed at any cost!

Shuji Hashimoto

Graduated from the Department of Applied Physics, Faculty of Science and Engineering, Waseda University in 1970. After working as a lecturer and assistant professor at Toho University, and assistant professor at the School of Science and Engineering, Waseda University, he became a professor at the School of Science and Engineering, Waseda University, in 1993. Majors in instrumentation and information engineering. Has served as senior dean of the Faculty of Science and Engineering, dean of the School of Science and Engineering, and dean of the Graduate School of Science and Engineering. Appointed vice-president of Waseda University in November 2010. Also serves as director of Honjo Waseda Research Park Foundation.