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About Freshman Course

This is a two-credit course designed for newly-enrolled students of SOKENDAI with the aim of providing them essential skills and knowledge necessary for graduate level studies. For more information, please see the course description at SOKENDAI website.

Aim of the `Researchers and Society’ section

In the current society, researchers are expected to have not only expertise in their research areas but also the capacity to foresee the impacts and deal with the problems that their research activity could bring about to society. Through workshops and lectures, `Researchers and Society’ section aims to help students have better understanding of researchers’ roles and responsibilities in society.

Outline

This is one-and-half-day course consisting of the following three parts dedicated to research integrity, social history of science, and science communication. The first and the third part concern researcher’s responsibility for the trustworthiness of their research and for the social impacts of their research, respectively. The second part provides an overview of the historical development of the current research system and shows how research and society have affected each other. Through these lectures and workshops, the course aims to help students understand the role and the responsibility of researchers as a profession in society.

  • Part 1: Research Integrity
    This part aims to help students understand the importance of responsible conduct of research. In the workshop part, students consider researchers’ responsibilities from various aspects, share their ideas and discuss them with other students. The workshop is followed by a lecture on research integrity, including the standard topics such as the definition of research misconduct, ethical conduct of research involving human or animal subjects, problems related to authorship, peer review, and conflicts of interest.
  • Part 2: Social History of Research
    The social roles and responsibilities of researchers have changed over time. This lecture provides a historical overview of the process through which research has become a profession and of the changing relationships between researchers, states, and industry. It also discuss the ethical dilemmas and social responsibility of researchers that became apparent in Twentieth-century warfare.
  • Part 3: Science Communication
    Researchers have to communicate messages on their research to a wide variety of audience in society. However, miscommunication sometimes occurs when different stakeholders have different perspectives on research activities. This part discusses the issue of miscommunication using as an example a controversy over GM crops. Through workshops and lectures, participants consider important questions such as what messages researchers should communicate to the public and how to understand the different values of different stakeholders.
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