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Conference on "Social Innovation and Sustainability" in Kyoto

Nov 28, 2012

"Social Innovation and Sustainability for the Future: Recreating the Intimate and Public Spheres" was the topic of an International Conference in Kyoto, Japan.
Prof. Harald Fuess, Cluster professor for Cultural Economic History, as well as Cluster members Prof. Christian Göbel, Dr. Jaok Kwon and Björn-Ole Kamm participated as presenters and commentators in the conference. It was held in November 2012 by the Global Centre of Excellence for Reconstruction of the Intimate and Public Spheres in 21st Century Asia. In the following report, Björn-Ole Kamm reviews the four-day programme.

Lectures on “Social Innovation and Sustainability for the Future”

The 5th Next-Generation Global Workshop and International Conference organized by Kimio Ito, Emiko Ochiai, and Wako Asato from the Global Centre of Excellence (GCOE), focused on the theme of “Social Innovation and Sustainability for the Future: Recreating the Intimate and Public spheres”. The organizers classify a number of micro and macro level processes, such as a changing role of the nation state, an altered family structure, an ever-increasing wealth gap to name a few, as urgent issues that demand the creation of new social systems or institutions. These issues are seen as chances for social innovation, a process which the organizers identify as the change from an old existing system to a certain new system based on social needs, by introducing new ideas, methods, strategies actions or policies, and which becomes a frontier of the reconstruction of intimate and public spheres.

Harald Fuess, Christian Göbel and Björn-Ole Kamm in a discussion with Kimio Ito

Sessions on Labor, IT and Media, Environment and Community

Prof. Harald Fuess as discussant
Lecture by Björn-Ole Kamm, M.A.

The sessions of the workshop and of the subsequent conference covered a large set of related topics, such as studies of innovative social policies, labor movements, corporate social responsibility, or gender equality. Over 60 presenters from all over the globe came together to introduce their research and discuss the issues outlined by the organizers. As representatives from the Cluster, Jaok Kwon gave a presentation on "Gender Politics in Labor Movements in South Korea" as part of the workshop's session on "Labor", and within the scope of a session on "IT & Media" Björn-Ole Kamm talked about  "Ethics of Internet-based Research on Japanese Subcultures". Christian Göbel and Harald Fuess took up the role of discussant in the sessions on "Environment" and "Community" respectively.

Focus on Research Endeavors and Projects

While the workshop was conceived as a platform for PhD students and PostDocs from Japan and the oversea partners to showcase their research, the following conference focused on research endeavors and projects conducted within the framework of the GCOE including a session on the East Asian Social Survey and panels on the de-/re-construction of work, such as changing and diversifying structures of job insecurity, or the convergence and divergence of welfare regimes. The event attracted over 130 participants. Like in the years before, the workshop's proceedings will be published in a conference volume by February 2013.

Audience at the workshop

Business Meetings about an intensified collaboration

A number of business meetings were also conducted in conjunction with the more research focused parts of the event. These meetings included talks about an intensified collaboration of Heidelberg und Kyoto University in a Joint PhD Programme. For these endeavors, Heidelberg University has received a start-up grant from the Ministry for Science, Research and Arts Baden-Württemberg to create a joint International Research Training Group with Kyoto University in continuation of the GCOE as well as the Cluster's research framework. Kyoto University has also recently started an English-language MA programme in Economics to which students from oversea partners, such as Heidelberg, may apply.

Additional Information

About the Global Centre of Excellence for Reconstruction of The Intimate and Public Spheres in 21st Century Asia

The GCOE for Reconstruction of the Intimate and Public Spheres in 21st Century is funded by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) as part of a funding program comparable to the DFG's Excellence Initiative. With a focus on the social sciences, the GCOE has set out to analyze and make policy suggestions for the transformations of the private and the public spheres in 21st century Asia, such as demographic change, the limits of family-based welfare, or the feminization of international migration. Placing a strong emphasis on international collaboration, the GCOE has 33 oversea partners, including the Cluster of Excellence "Asia and Europe in a Global Context". Since 2010 the universities Kyoto and Heidelberg are also founding members of the HeKKSaGOn University Consortium.

About the author

Björn-Ole Kamm is a doctoral candidate at the Cluster of Excellence “Asia and Europe in a Global Kontext”. Currently he is Research Fellow at the Global Center of Excellence “Reconstruction of the Intimate and Public Spheres” in Kyoto and Coordinator of the Joint PhD Research Programme, Heidelberg University and Kyoto University.


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  • Participants of the conference