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01 Sep 2017
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4th Kyoto University-Inamori Foundation Joint Kyoto Prize Symposium (1–2 July 2017)

The fourth Kyoto University-Inamori Foundation Joint Kyoto Prize Symposium (KUIP) was held at the Clock Tower Centennial Hall on 1 and 2 July.

Under the theme "Art, Science and Technology to Inspire Dreams and Adventure", this year's symposium highlighted three fields of study related to the 2019 Kyoto Prize: "Materials Science and Engineering", "Earth and Planetary Sciences, Astronomy, and Astrophysics", and "Theater, Cinema". The two-day event brought together 11 leading experts and one organization. Lively discussion over cutting-edge topics took place, garnering attention not only from academic circles, but also from the community at large. Around 700 students, researchers, and members of the general public attended.

On the first day, a session on "Theater, Cinema" was held on the topic of "Why Do People Perform? -- The Meaning of Art for Homo Sapiens/Human Beings --". Yokozen Kabuki Children's Workshop (Nagi Board of Education, Okayama Prefecture) opened the session by performing the "Amagasaki Scene" from the 10th act of the kabuki play The Picture Book of the Taiko. Then, three speakers delivered lectures: Oriza Hirata, playwright/director and specially-appointed professor at the Center for the Study of CO Design, Osaka University; Shinichi Nakazawa, anthropologist and director of the Institut pour la Science Sauvage, Meiji University; and Kazuki Omori, director/writer and professor at the Osaka University of Arts. Professor Shoko Suzuki of the KU Graduate School of Education joined them as a moderator. The speakers discussed evocative topics, such as the fundamental meaning of acting and performing in rituals, ceremonies, or movies, and the meaning of performance and art for human beings in the modern age.

On the morning of the second day, the "Materials Science and Engineering" session was held with the theme: "Investigation of New Materials for a Sustainable Future". The session featured four speakers: Susumu Kitagawa, distinguished professor and deputy director-general of the KU Institute for Advanced Study (KUIAS) and director of the Institute for Integrated Cell-Material Sciences (iCeMS); Shanhui Fan, professor at Stanford University; Yoshinori Tokura, director of RIKEN Center for Emergent Matter Science and professor at the University of Tokyo; and Hideo Ohno, director and professor at the Research Institute of Electrical Communication, Tohoku University. The speakers discussed interdisciplinary investigation of materials from perspectives specific to pioneering researchers in their fields, such as "chemistry and nano space", "nanophotonics and its fusion with topological science", "strongly correlated electron systems and superconduction/magnetism", and "semiconductors and magnetism".

The "Earth and Planetary Sciences, Astronomy and Astrophysics" session was held on the topic of "A Renewed Sense of Wonder Toward the Earth and the Universe" on the afternoon on the second day. The session featured: Asahiko Taira, president of Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology; Tim Palmer, Royal Society Research Professor (350th Anniversary) at the University of Oxford; Katsuji Koyama, professor emeritus at Kyoto University; and Jocelyn Bell Burnell, professor at the University of Oxford. They talked about their adventurous journeys to realize their wild dreams, covering topics such as: how they produced academic achievements by making full use of cutting-edge equipment such as riser drilling vessels and super-computers in deep earth research and weather pattern predictions; how they discovered supernovae and pulsars by digging into their creativity, and using the radiotelescope to grasp what is happening in the farthest reaches of the universe.

The symposium wrapped up with a joint closing session. Moderated by KU President Juichi Yamagiwa, the speakers from the three sessions and program committee members took the stage to offer thought-provoking insights. Many of the speakers stated that they were inspired with the lectures, and renewed their sense of the importance of cross-disciplinary exchange, especially with those in other fields. Some speakers pointed out the difference in attitudes toward "compromise" between the science and technology field, in which no compromise is allowed, and the field of art, in which compromise is acceptable. Some also argued that joining the circle of world-leading universities would be difficult for Japanese universities as they do not have a good understanding of art and rarely have museums or theaters, which are standard for universities in Europe and the United States.

Audience feedback included: "The lectures about theater and cinema covered a variety of topics, and were quite interesting"; "The session changed my view on theater"; "I learned a lot about how things evolve from the current reality toward the possible future, and how people can realize technologies that were supposed to be just a dream"; and, "I found that the people's power to dream and their sense of wonder are the common in the field of 'theater and cinema', discussed in the first day session, and a wide range of scientific research from the nano world to the origin of the universe discussed in the second day session."

From left: Professor Hirata, Director Nakazawa, and Professor Omori

Performers of the Yokozen Kabuki Children's Workshop

Symposium participants


From left: Deputy Director-General Kitagawa, Professor Fan, Director Tokura, and Director Ohno

From left: President Taira, Professor Palmer, Professor Koyama, and Professor Burnell

Joint closing session

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