Program Overview

Program for Advancing Strategic International Networks to Accelerate the Circulation of Talented Researchers—The Japan-ASEAN Collaborative Research Program on Innovative Humanosphere in Southeast Asia: In Search of Wisdom toward Compatibility Growth and Community in the World

The Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS)’s new Program for Advancing Strategic International Networks to Accelerate the Circulation of Talented Researchers commenced in FY2014. The project proposed by the Center for Southeast Asian Studies, Kyoto University, entitled “The Japan-ASEAN Collaborative Research Program on Innovative Humanosphere in Southeast Asia: In Search of Wisdom toward Compatibility Growth and Community in the World” (FY2014 – 16) was selected as part of the JSPS program.

About the Project

The issue of how to achieve and sustain both dynamic growth and harmony in a society of co-existence is a challenge shared by modern societies around the world.

The countries of ASEAN have experienced high levels of growth and rapid social changes due to industrialization. However, in recent years the countries have begun to show individuality that is not simply an expression of playing linear catch-up to developed countries. Their unique traits suggest new ideas for research on the humanosphere.

This project seeks to produce “innovative humanosphere research” with a series of studies that explore new knowledge concerning the humanosphere resulting from ASEAN’s natural environment and socioeconomic conditions. It serves to become a core component of innovative research on the humanosphere in the world by further deepening Kyoto University’s top-level research in Japan. Advanced by individual projects in the natural sciences and humanities and social sciences as well as interdisciplinary projects, this research will be further integrated and expanded by strengthening cooperation with local ASEAN research institutes through bidirectional personnel exchanges. The knowledge and methodologies obtained will be used to present diversity in the humanosphere in the modern world and to create models of international cooperation that promote such a diverse humanosphere.

Kyoto University’s research on the humanosphere, advanced through a transdisciplinary approach across different departments, can be organized into three orientations.

  • 1) The Possibility of “Hybrid Growth”
    Even as ASEAN countries continue to pursue industrialization through the export-oriented manufacturing sector, there is a new possibility of economic growth, which is fueled by new environmental energy resources and bio-derived technological innovations.
    This new economic growth can bring about new social transformation in areas such as cities and villages, industrial actors, energy demand and supply, and the redistribution of social welfare. In this growth is the potential to produce new directions in technological innovation and cooperation.
  • 2) The Possibility of “Environmental Recovery ”
    The ASEAN region is experiencing destruction of forests due to drastic urbanization, development of plantations, and mineral mining, all developments of rapid economic growth. Loss of biodiversity is also accelerating, and the lack of water resources is becoming an issue.
    ASEAN countries are located in the tropics and subtropical regions. Because these are the areas most affected by climate change, the countries are becoming highly vulnerable to environmental changes entailed in economic growth.
    A model of “environmental recovery” particular to ASEAN can be created by combining local knowledge with the fruits of Japan’s advanced scientific and technological research, using an interdisciplinary approach that integrates the sciences and the humanities. If such a model can be achieved, it should become globally attractive because it respects a country or region’s local character.
  • 3) Realization of “Peaceful Society”
    Along with Japan, ASEAN countries are located on orogenic belts around the Pacific Rim (“the Ring of Fire”). Since ancient times, they have been subject to the toll of disasters like earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.
    Also, the populations of these countries are expected to experience rapid aging and declining birthrates in the twenty-first century.
    From its cutting-edge science and technology, Japan has developed a variety of technologies to bring about “safety and security” for its citizens. It also has experience designing measures such as social welfare and nursing care systems optimized for a rapidly aging society in the twenty-first century. By applying either of these areas of achievement to the ASEAN region, those measures can be enhanced to become assets with greater universality.
    At the same time, while ASEAN is a region that is one of richest in cultural diversity in the world. ASEAN countries have kept conflicts between ethnicities and religious adherents to a minimum. The region has a tradition of maintaining relationships of pluralistic co-existence.
    A model of a “peaceful society,” constructed from ASEAN as the foundation by integrating understanding of the region’s unique cultural traditions with cutting-edge science and technology and social systems, holds the possibility of opening a grand gateway to the future of global society.

Each of the orientations above presents complex issues related to ASEAN’s natural environmental and socioeconomic conditions. The individual joint research studies carried out under this project seek to produce knowledge about these multiple orientations.

Tackling the issues mentioned above under this project will be carried out by research groups from Kyoto University’s various departments, which are demonstrating leadership in the research of the humanosphere and in working with ASEAN countries. They will share the special characteristic of taking an approach that comprehensively integrates the humanities and the sciences by being organically connected together via the Kyoto University ASEAN Platform (tentative name).

As part of this original effort, Kyoto University will choose world-class ASEAN universities as partners for the circulation of talented researchers. These universities are leaders in the research of local humanosphere in the ASEAN region. Strengthening ties between these academic institutions and Kyoto University’s research groups will deepen “innovative humanosphere research.” We will present the fruits of this research as internationally co-authored papers.

Furthermore, by organizing Japan-ASEAN academic symposiums and strategically presenting the research achievements of the research groups to the world, the number of journal articles co-authored synergistically and internationally can be increased, as can the number of their citations. This will result in raising the global preeminence of the research groups’ “innovative humanosphere research.”