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Katayama Seiichi

Chair of the Japan Society of Social Design Studies

(Professor, Rikkyo University)


How can we turn the multiplicity of diverse and sometimes conflicting ideas and opinions into a ferment for creating a civil society? To achieve this, discussions need to transcend the boundaries of academia by reaching out more widely to various sectors of society and people from multiple fields and thereby increasing both the quantity and quality of exchanges, so that we can reach a place where research can be organized sustainably. It was with these thoughts in mind that I called for the creation of the Japan Society of Social Design Studies.

And yet, creating grand designs for the 21st century society is easier said than done. The establishment of this Society aims to contribute, through our activities, to the formation of a broad, open network integrating various forms of knowledge and drawing on the participation of many researchers and practitioners in the new field of social design. There are, however, several obstacles to overcome as we expand our network.

The main one is the difficulty of conveying the purpose informing the establishment of our Society without being misunderstood. Currently we are focusing on seven relevant fields, namely, community design, corporate social responsibility (CSR), international cooperation, peacebuilding and peaceful coexistence, nonprofit activities, crisis management, urban disaster prevention, and cultural and artistic organizations. But we have no intention of juxtaposing our small academic society with previously existing societies that are already active in their respective fields. Rather, we aim to be a cross-disciplinary knot or hub for weaving the vast amount of knowledge that is being accumulated in such fields into a transdisciplinary network, as I mentioned at the general assembly for the Society’s establishment. How can we design a new society for the 21st century by integrating diverse forms of knowledge? That this is the mission and task of our Society needs to be clearly and widely understood.

Fukuhara Yoshiharu, our advisor, promptly agreed with my inchoate ideas and gave shape to our aims as a representative of initial members of the Society. According to Fukuhara, 21st-century society is characterized by its flatness. Hence, the old pyramidal type of social organization can no longer be adopted. This is also the reason why networks are becoming more important. From another perspective, this means that “now the private can take charge of what the public does in our society, which is a major shift equivalent to the change from geocentric to heliocentric theory.” Taking this shift as an opportunity, how can we transform the society of the future? To borrow Mr. Fukuhara’s words again, “the world will change through the efforts of us all.”

It is fortunate that our Society should count on the support of so many people from the outset. We will be holding our first conference on December 3, 2006, Sunday. This year’s gathering will take the shape of sessions and panel discussions, but from the second conference (FY2007) onward we would like to turn it into a forum for mutual exchanges, with a focus on research presentations by members. We look forward to receiving your applications to this event.


Message for the First Annual Conference

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