The Institute of Advanced Sciences, Yokohama National University
Building a circulation system for the creation of knowledge and contributing to society
In October of 2014, Yokohama National University (YNU) used its selection for a grant in the fields of safety engineering and risk―which are two of the strongest fields at YNU―in FY2013 by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology as part of its Program for Promoting the Reform of National Universities, as an opportunity to establish the Institute of Advanced Sciences (IAS). Based on the notion of “risk symbiosis,” the IAS has begun conducting research to develop the kinds of rational risk management needed in the 21st century and to help make society safe, vibrant, and sustainable.
In addition to its work as a center for research in risk symbiosis, the IAS plays a core role in pushing forward with reforms at the University by building a circulation system for the creation of knowledge and by accumulating and utilizing insights involving the optimization of management techniques that could help improve its research capabilities. (See Fig. 1)
YNU’s graduate research institutes, which are made up of the Faculty of International Social Sciences, Faculty of Engineering, Faculty of Environment and Information Sciences, Faculty of Urban Innovation, and Graduate School of Education, have systems in place for providing flexible support that is capable of accelerating research activities. Specifically, in these graduate schools, research groups that are particularly active in research rooted in free thought are chosen as “YNU research centers” and provided with various forms of support for their research. Furthermore, from among these YNU research centers, those that have demonstrated excellent research abilities, skill at research management, and proven ability to get outside funding are selected for priority support based on the YNU president’s strategy.
In addition to its increased efforts to give back to society through research activities that make full use of YNU’s particular strengths, the IAS has established research clusters in fields that also have the potential to enhance the presence of YNU. Research groups (or “research units”) that are particularly suited to each of the various research clusters are selected in a top-down fashion from the entire university―including the aforementioned YNU research centers, and the selected research units are assigned to the respective research clusters. The research clusters conduct research aimed at fulfilling the objective of the establishment of the IAS and clusters.
The IAS conducts research jointly and in cooperation with other institutes, in addition to welcoming onboard and working in close partnership with prominent researchers in Japan and throughout the world. In conjunction with the Center for Creation of Symbiosis Society with Risk, consolidated as an organization in April 2019, the IAS provides a platform that actively incorporates open innovation for such efforts. Thanks to the support from the Research Initiatives and Promotion Organization that drives research forward for the aim of facilitating greater sophistication of studies in the university as a whole and contributing to social progress, the IAS has disseminated its research findings worldwide while also sharing the information gained in the course of research activity in-campus. Moreover, IAS’s research activities help to train up-and-coming young researchers. It is with these elements that the circulation system for the creation of knowledge is built.