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Young Researchers Overseas Visit Program

Outline of the Program

Hitotsubashi University has launched the Young Researchers Overseas Visit Program for Strengthening the Alliance of Schools of Social Sciences (YROVP-SASSS). The Program is being funded by the Institutional Program for Young Researcher Overseas Visits under the auspices of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) for the financial years 2010–2013.

Aim of the YROVP

Hitotsubashi University is a leading pioneer of the social sciences in Japan. Its research and education cover a wide range of disciplines including business and commerce, economics, law, political science, international relations, sociology, anthropology, history and linguistics. Hitotsubashi University defines itself as a School of Social Sciences (SSS), a unique tradition that continues to produce young researchers at the cutting-edge of the social sciences. In recent years, Hitotsubashi University has given priority to strengthening its alliance with world-class universities in the field of social science research and education. Drawing on such existing networks, and based on Hitotsubashi University’s mission to promote its global partnerships with other SSSs, the Young Researchers Overseas Visit Program for Strengthening the Alliance of Schools of Social Sciences (YROVP-SASSS; hereafter YROVP) aims to send our young researchers to overseas institutions, a policy now central to the university’s internationalization strategies. In addition, the YROVP is the first of its kind at Hitotsubashi University to provide intra-university support for the career development of young scholars, an initiative which has hitherto been done independently at each Graduate School.

The YROVP takes a twofold approach to achieving the above aim.

Firstly, it places greater emphasis on Hitotsubashi University’s renowned intellectual tradition of pragmatism through empirical and practice-oriented research. Hence, it aims to give postdoctoral fellows (PDFs), postgraduate students and undergraduate students with advanced training the opportunity to go overseas to build on their expertise in social science research. Secondly, it offers them the financial support to visit overseas institutions, keeping in view both the cross-program and program-specific dimensions of our initiative of academic career support. Linking these will be our basic principle in running the YROVP.

With cross-program support we seek to help our young researchers develop further skills in undertaking data collection and engaging in academic presentations and debates in a foreign language. Such skills are a prerequisite for academic exchange and the dissemination of research, regardless of the academic stage.

Program-specific support, on the other hand, calls for diverse strategies designed for each academic stage. For PDFs we provide state-of-the-art support in furthering their research at the cutting-edge of their disciplines. For PhD research scholars we offer support and incentives to obtain their PhD, whereas for Master’s students with aspirations to continue their studies to the PhD level, we provide basic training to build their academic skills and knowledge. Finally, we intend to provide undergraduate students seeking academic careers with a global academic experience.

On the basis of this two-tier support, we require the following of YROVP fellows.

  1. PDFs are sent for a period of 2–12 months. They are required to achieve substantial results, including publications in peer-reviewed journals overseas, presentations in symposiums, seminars or workshops at their host institutions, and the completion of an end-of-program report.
  2. PhD students are sent for up to 2 months, during which time they undertake data collection activities for a thesis or dissertation, disseminate their research (e.g. at conference presentations) and participate in intensive courses/seminars or internship programs. They are required to submit an end-of-program report to their supervisors. Their end-of-YROVP reports and their supervisors’ evaluation reports are shared with the Office of Global Initiatives for analysis of the outcome of their visits.
  3. Undergraduate students who wish to pursue an academic career are given exposure to a global academic environment through a fieldwork education program, which is accompanied by seminars and workshops. The Area Studies Program for the Training of International Economic Analysts is such an initiative, which has been under way at the Faculty of Economics since 2009 in collaboration with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and overseas universities. Hitotsubashi University has set in motion plans to expand and institutionalize such initiatives.

As a comprehensive university for the social sciences, Hitotsubashi University continues to strengthen its alliance with leading universities across the globe in social science research, and strives to expand its academic exchange arrangements with overseas universities. Building a closer alliance with them will be the key to successfully implementing the YROVP.

Components and Plans of the YROVP

1. Disciplines targeted under the YROVP

All social sciences taught at Hitotsubashi University, including among others business and commerce, economics, law, political science, international relations, sociology and anthropology.

2. Management of the YROVP

The YROVP is led by the Office of Global Initiatives, with Professor Ryo Oshiba, Vice President for Research, International Affairs and University Evaluation , as its head. The Management Committee comprises the academic staff listed as in charge of the YROVP and is headed by Professor Takuya Tsuji, Assistant Vice President for Research and University Evaluation; it is responsible for decision-making concerning the selection of applicants for overseas visits (Figure 1). Members of the Committee represent each Graduate School and thus contribute to the management of the YROVP on the basis of their own strategies to promote research among young scholars.

Figure 1: Managerial structure of the YROVP-SASSS (concept)

The YROVP thus has a visit program at each Graduate School, and the Management Committee at the Office of Global Initiatives oversees all of these programs. The Management Committee plays the following roles: (1) formulation of plans for overall initiation of the YROVP; (2) selection of applicants for the YROVP; (3) keeping track of the overall implementation of the YROVP; (4) evaluation and dissemination of the results obtained by the YROVP; and (5) planning and implementation of improvements to the YROVP. Listed below are the details of each role.

  1. Formulation of the plans
    In accordance with the internationalization strategies of Hitotsubashi University, the YROVP aims to expand its alliance with SSSs, to strengthen its relationship with the universities with which we have exchange agreements, and to promote the academic career development of our students. It formulates its core plans for overseas visits among young researchers as a university package, reflecting the plans of each Graduate School.
  2. Selection of applicants
    The Management Committee makes the final decision in selecting applicants for the YROVP on the basis of the recommendations made by each Graduate School for its own applicants. The Committee has drawn up guidelines for selecting applicants for the YROVP to be applied to each Graduate School.
  3. Keeping track of the overall implementation
    Prospective applicants at each Graduate School are responsible for negotiation, correspondence and contracts (where necessary) with host institutions. The Management Committee retains overall information on the implementation of the YROVP and takes appropriate action when the need arises. Dr. Asuka Gatukui co-ordinates the whole program under the guidance of the Assistant Vice President for Research and University Evaluation.
  4. Evaluation and dissemination of results
    The Management Committee evaluates and disseminates information about the results of the overseas visits. Emphasis is placed on the results obtained by PDFs and PhD students in such areas as presentations at international conferences/workshops and the publication of articles in peer-reviewed journals.
  5. Improvement of the process
    The Management Committee monitors the overall outcome of the implementation of the YROVP, and considers items for potential improvement of the YROVP's procedures and components. The Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) cycle is employed when making improvements.

3. Selection criteria and methods of selection

The Management Committee set up within the Office of Global Initiatives prepares the guidelines for an open-competition Grant Scheme at Hitotsubashi University. Each Graduate School selects applicants under the visit program it runs and recommends them for the final decision to be made by the Management Committee. The key selection criteria are: (1) the proposed research is in conformity with Hitotsubashi University's mission to strengthen its alliance with SSSs, and (2) the aim of the proposed research is clear and appropriate, and fits into the research conducted at the host institution. Further criteria are applied to each applicant as follows, depending on the applicant's academic stage.

  1. PDFs
    PDFs are required to submit a proposal which states their research plans during the visit and the relevance of those plans to their PhD thesis, their publication plans, and their language proficiency.
  2. Postgraduate students
    PhD students are required to submit a proposal which states their research plans during the visit and the relevance of those plans to their in-progress thesis or dissertation, the relationship to their past research achievements, and their language proficiency, along with an evaluation by their supervisor.
  3. Undergraduate students
    As undergraduate students are to join the YROVP in partnership with an international organisation, they will be selected on the basis of their interest in the activities covered by the YROVP, their academic record, and their aptitude for developing an academic career.

4. Crisis management for YROVP fellows during overseas visits

Prior to the overseas visits of fellows on the YROVP, the Assistant Vice President and Dr. Asuka Gatukui provide overseas security information and arrange crisis management workshops for them. It is compulsory for all YROVP fellows to attend a crisis management workshop and to purchase travel insurance before their visits. We also seek support from the Josuikai, the Alumni Association of Hitotsubashi University, which has 46 offices across the globe, in providing information to and ensuring the security of YROVP fellows in case of emergency. Hitotsubashi University has launched a Crisis Management Office, following the enactment of the Ordinance of Crisis Management at Hitotsubashi University in March 2007. Under this system, the Management Committee will make every effort to ensure the safety of YROVP fellows in conjunction with the Crisis Management Office.

5. Future plans of the YROVP

The Office of Global Initiatives envisages the promotion of research and academic careers among young researchers across Faculties/Graduate Schools. In terms of undergraduate education, we are providing a basis for career development by expanding the education of 1st- and 2nd-year students, which includes the Short-term Study Abroad Program. In April 2010, Hitotsubashi University launched the Global Education Program, which provides courses taught in English in order to attract more international students and to promote the internationalization of the campus. In sustaining these initiatives, we will set our objectives and mobilize resources in conformity with Hitotsubashi University's unique tradition of social science research. As a university with the academic career support of postgraduate students as a core strategy, Hitotsubashi University places greater emphasis on the following.

First and foremost, we aim to provide postgraduate students with advanced academic training. This includes providing the opportunity to the largest possible number of postgraduate students to study at overseas universities, drawing on our SSS networks.

Second, we will strengthen our academic career support system to enable these students to obtain academic posts. Dr. Yutaka Sato acts as an advisor, provides one-to-one consultation, and holds workshops intended to help postgraduate students develop the further skills necessary for embarking on an academic career.

These plans will lay the foundation for Hitotsubashi University to provide comprehensive support to young researchers in search of an academic career under the new system that gives priority to graduate school education.