Research and Education Network for Knowledge Economy Initiatives (RENKEI), a new platform for a partnership between the UK and Japan was launched four years ago in order to execute on the innovative strategies in higher education and industry. RENKEI means “collaboration” in Japanese.
From June 24 to 28, 2017, RENKEI workshop was staged at Ritsumeikan University Kinugasa Campus co-hosted by University of Southampton and Ritsumeikan University, attended by about 50 people including researchers from RENKEI member universities in the UK and Japan.
Since its start, RENKEI has had two workshops per year, organized by the member universities in turn. This is the first RENKEI workshop in AY2017 which aims to assemble an expert network representing creative digital business and cultural heritage researchers to support digital business and museology in Japan.
This 5-day workshop consists of conference and public lectures, excursion to some heritage sites in Kyoto city, presentations on cultural heritages, Thinkathon, and feedback session.
On the conference, each researcher made an 8-minute presentation on his/her research topic, followed by public lectures by two keynote speakers.
Dr. Eric Kansa, UC Berkeley gave a lecture on the archaeology and humanizing big data, which is the world’s most valuable resource to the 21st-century economies, according to The Economist.
During the keynote speech, he explained Big Data is literally ‘factory farmed’ data as is the case for Google, Facebook and Twitter, however, emphasized that we do have choices how we engage with such data.
Among the participants, we interviewed three Ph.D. candidates, Yuting Song from Ritsumeikan University, Rebecca Ferderer from Nagoya University, and Mirna Carolina Valladares Celis.
Interviewer: Why did you participate in this workshop?
Yuting Song: RENKEI aims to create a unique working framework for university-industry collaboration, particularly in the fields of science and technology, between the UK and Japan. This year, the theme of RENKEI workshop is “Open Cultural Heritage Scholarship”, which is very close to my current research. Through this workshop, I’d like to learn the latest research progress on cultural heritages and the relationship between research and industry.
Rebecca Ferderer: The preservation of traditional knowledge is a hot topic in debates on geographical indications (GIs). The main reason I was interested in participating in this program was to try to determine how to develop a new, creative digital business model to overcome the information asymmetry between producers and consumers of GIs.
Valladares Celis: As a Ph.D. researcher in the Education field (assisted by technology), I find it fascinating the opportunity to discuss the use of digital artifacts to preserve and distribute culture and history, not only with colleagues from my area but experts from other sectors. Therefore, attending a series of workshops where the expertise of many converges in an open environment because about what we are all doing, exchange ideas and create new projects is the main reason that inspired me to come to this event.
Interviewer: How do you think about this workshop so far?
Valladares: It is fascinating to listen what people involved in different sectors are doing to preserve and spread the culture. Having a little time to interact with each of the participants to further discuss their projects, is an issue that must be considered for future events. The 8 minutes’ allocation for presenting our projects is not enough time, and further time should be deemed to talk to others apart from the breaks for coffee and lunch time.
Yuting: This workshop is more active than I thought. The researchers from all around the world gave comments to each other’s research or projects. What’s more, every participant was in a lively discussion and expected a further cooperation.
Rebecca: I believe it was a good place to learn about the different backgrounds and skills each participant has to offer in the area of cultural heritage preservation. The networking opportunity alone was invaluable.
Interviewer: Do you have any expectation with it?
Rebecca: Preservation of cultural heritage and related expertise is important, and a legal approach is one of the ways to not only protect but also allow for such practitioners to perpetuate it. I believe this is one of the ways I hope to contribute to future projects with my fellow participants.
Valladares: As expressed before, I would have liked to have more time to interact with the other participants, since I found their projects very interesting, and with a large potential in the field of Educations. However, the only thing I could do was to exchange my email with some of them for keeping in touch after the event. Regarding the last day, I must say that I found the fascinating opportunity emerged from the work of us all. I also think that many other projects started to develop behind the open discussions because links of interest were created between participants "behind the scenes". In my opinion, having big groups for discussion shortened the potential to create projects. My suggestion for future workshops is to have groups of 3 or 4, and that they are formed naturally with people that found links among their projects.
Yuting: Yes, I look forward to communicating with the experts and researchers in the field of cultural heritages. I also would like to know other researcher’s current work and learn advanced achievements from the related companies.
Interviewer: Finally, will you tell me what you have obtained from participating in it?
Yuting: I got many comments for my research and gained a better understanding of the field of cultural heritages. Besides, I knew how the companies apply the advanced technologies to the field of cultural heritages. Their products could help people to learn and better understand the cultural heritages.
Valladares: Networking with incredible people, great ideas, and inspiration for my current research and future projects.
Rebecca: One of the most important perspectives I gained from this workshop is that projects involving digitalizing cultural heritage must not remain in the confines of academia, but must engage the public.