Message from the DirectorIn 2015, the Institute of Living Sciences attained its 40th anniversary since its establishment as a research department, and its 30th anniversary since its reformation as a research institution. In 1976, the founding proposer of the institute, Keiichi Mizushima, started the research department, the predecessor of the Institute of Living Sciences, with ten members. Since its inception, Mizushima set the aim to ‘integrate elements of humanity and social science into that of natural science, and pioneer in living science, a study from the perspective of “a living person”’. Mizushima advocated ‘living sciences’ or ‘human sciences’, a study that puts emphasis on integrity as a practical science.
With its funding aim in mind, we hope that the institute attracts researchers from various fields related to human lives to come together, and serves as a place for vigorous research activities to take place. Furthermore, we consider that it is one of our missions to contribute to the local community by means of collaborative research projects and open lectures. We continue to commit ourselves to a range of activities so that the institute plays a part in active exchanges between internal and external researchers and with the local people. In the future, we will put our efforts into communicating the institute’s activities through our website. We are grateful for your support and participation.
Fuyuko Kanefuji, Director of the Institute of Living Sciences
History1．History of the Institute of Living Sciences: how it was established and its aim
In 1976, the Institute of Living Sciences started as a research department (Living Sciences Research Department) following the reorganisation of Faculty of Domestic Sciences into a new faculty, Faculty of Human Sciences.
Since its establishment, according to the university’s 80 years chronicle, the Institute of Living Sciences aimed to ‘integrate elements of humanity and social science into that of natural science, and pioneer in living sciences, a study from the perspective of “a living person”’ (1). Also, ‘rather than simply looking at physical activities related to people’s lives (…), the institute started off by vigorously taking up issues on people’s mental activities on daily life including the environment, history and psychology as its subjects’(2). In other words, from its beginning, the institute’s aim was to explore and establish living sciences as an academic discipline through an interdisciplinary approach.
With the call from the founding proposer, the late Keiichi Mizushima (former professor of Faculty of Domestic Science and then Faculty of Human Sciences, and the President), Living Sciences Research Department started with ten initial members, six full-time lecturers and four assistants. According to the founding aim, the members were selected from researchers in a wide range of disciplines. Although the core members were formed by lecturers from the previous Faculty of Domestic Science (who were then assigned to either Faculty of Human Sciences or Secondary Home Economics Division of Faculty of Education), their specialism covered diverse subject areas including sociology, psychology, social psychology, nutrition science, dietetics, cookery science, and hygienics.
In 1986, 10 years after its establishment, Living Sciences Research Department was reorganised and evolved into the Institute of Living Sciences. The institute’s initial members were twenty two in total; nine from Faculty of Human Sciences and thirteen from Faculty of Education. During this reorganisation, two subsidiary organisations (Research Division and Training Division) were established within the institute. In 1990, the head of each division was appointed. The institute remains in operation today.
Since its inception, the institute was run by the Steering Committee whose commissioners were selected from the then five faculties of the university. This means that the institute was initiated as an all-faculty activity both in name and reality.
In 2015, the Institute of Living Sciences celebrated its 40th anniversary since its inception as a research department, and its 30th anniversary since its reorganisation as a research institute. As described below, compared to its early days, the institute now consists of many researchers from both inside and outside the university, and has become a research organisation that has researchers from a wide range of academic disciplines. Needless to say, the institute still aims to explore living sciences as defined at its establishment. At the same time, ‘through academic research on diverse issues and phenomenon related to people’s lives and the dissemination of its research results, the institute [also aims to] devote its activities to the improvement of people’s lives as well as the advancement and development of the community’ (3). In other words, it is the institute’s mission to make an academic contribution as well as to add a contribution to the practice through the research on living sciences.
【Notes and References】
(1) Bunkyo University, ed., Bunkyo University Foundation’s 80 years Anniversary Chronicle (Bunkyo Daigaku Gakuen Soritsu 80 shunen shi). p.141.
(3) Cited from the Institute of Living Sciences’ Business Plan 2015.