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Campus Now

Autumn Issue (Nov.)

SPECIAL REPORT

Waseda and Sports-Cooperation with society through sports

In addition to training athletes, Waseda University has conducted sports research and other activities to pursue the possibility of sports as part of university education.
Many people affiliated with Waseda University were part of the 2012 London Olympics and Paralympics. Furthermore, many faculty members participated as officials of the JOC headquarters. In this article, we will consider sports from an academic perspective and will explore the connection of universities and society through sports.

Interview

Pursuing the form of a community/society where people can live vibrantly
Sport Sciences for the Promotion of an Active Life

This article is an explanation of activities in the Waseda University Global COE Program "Sport Sciences for the Promotion of an Active Life."

Program Leader
Professor Kazuyuki Kanosue,
Faculty of Sport Sciences

The program Sport Sciences for the Promotion of an Active Life was adopted as one of the MEXT's 2009 Global COE programs*. It is the only program in Japan for cultivating professionals who can perform globally in the fields of sports and health sciences.

When hearing the phrase "sport sciences," many people may imagine research on bodily functions such as mechanisms of the body's movement. However, in actuality, sport sciences contain multiple relationships among a variety of fields. For example, one type of sport sciences research focuses on the policies and management necessary to promote sports among the elderly. In the case of exercise for children, physical education and education are related fields. This program has established 3 main projects which are 1) child health development, 2) middle-aged and elderly health promotion and 3) elite sports promotion. Based on these projects, the program conducts cross-sectional research and education in each of the fields of analysis and assessment, business and management, and coaching and clinics (refer to figure below). By integrating the wisdom of sport sciences and health sciences, the program seeks to form a society in which people from a variety of age groups can enjoy healthy daily life.

Modern society faces a variety of problems. There is the physical problem of children being unable to run properly and emotional problems such as bullying. Metabolic syndrome is prevalent among the middle-aged and many elderly people require nursing care. Sports are known as a good method for solving such problems. Elite athletes provide a hint for these solutions. Scientific knowledge and a fulfilling environment are necessary to cultivate elite athletes. For example, many people believe that elite athletes have different muscles than regular people. However, from the perspective of sports neuroscience, muscles are not related to sports such as baseball or basketball. Instead, motor nerves, in other words the brain, are most important. Therefore, research is conducted to clarify why the brains of outstanding athletes are so quick to assess situations and convey information for the body to move. However, even if this mystery is solved, it will not be possible to immediately cultivate outstanding athletes. Education and coaching is also related. In this respect, the 3 projects raised by this program are all interrelated.

3 years have passed since the program was adopted as a Global COE Program. Since then, the program has gradually taken shape. Currently, the program cooperates with elementary schools and the board of education in Tokorozawa City to measure the physical strength and skill of children. These measurements are being used in research for determining proper education in the future. Our mission is to steadily return to society these results which have been produced through a partnership with the community. Furthermore, we are conducted research and development on exercise for maintaining the health of the middle-aged and elderly, as well as for preventing the need for nursing care. This research is conducted through contact points which include the Waseda Health Promotion Research Center (an NPO) and the West Tokorozawa Integrated Regional Sports Club (commonly known as "Waseda Club 2000"). The health of the middle-aged and elderly is an aggregate of lifestyles led over a period of many years. Therefore, we plan to conduct long-term research within a larger framework. Fortunately, there are many graduates of Waseda University and our school has also produced outstanding elite athletes.

We have also conducted agreements with 8 universities throughout the world which are outstanding in the field of sport sciences. Personnel exchange and joint research has started with these universities. In the future, I would like to position this program as an established research center in sport sciences and to develop our activities on an international scale. By using this program to produce outstanding global professionals, I believe that we can contribute to society by proposing and implementing methodologies and systems for solving various problems in modern society.

*Global COE (Center of Excellence) Program
A funding support program started by the MEXT in 2002. The program seeks to enhance/strengthen the education and research functions of Japanese graduate schools and to cultivate global professionals. To achieve these aims, the program supports the formation of educational and research centers and promotes the creation of internationally competitive universities.

Professor Kazuyuki Kanosue, Faculty of Sport Sciences

In 1977, completed the Master's Program at the Osaka University Graduate School of Engineering. In 1979, appointed as Research Assistant at the Osaka University School of Medicine, and then as Assistant Professor in 1988. In 1999, appointed as Professor at the Osaka University Graduate School of Medicine, Division of Health Sciences, a position which he held for 4 years. In April 2003, appointed as Professor at the Waseda University School of Sport Sciences. His areas of expertise include sports neuroscience, sports physiology and system physiology. Currently also serves as Program Director for the Global COE Program.