Ritsumeikan University together with the University of Liverpool, which are both RENKEI members, conducted RENKEI PAX SCHOOL 2016 ~ Enslaving the Mind~ from September 14-23. RENKEI PAX SCHOOL aims to lay the intellectual foundations for building peace by bringing together early career researchers from the UK and Japan from a range of disciplines that contribute to Peace, Arts, Culture and Science. The participants to the program included 22 graduate students from 15 countries and regions from Ritsumeikan University, Kyoto University, Nagoya University, Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University, University of Liverpool and Newcastle University.
Having Several Identities: The Concept of “Divisual”
In the first part of the program- Lessons from the Past, we invited an Akutagawa Award-winning novelist Mr. Keiichiro Hirano to give a public lecture. He advocated the significance of “dividual” as opposed to “individual” and how it could affect the mindsets of the public through his lecture “What is ‘I’? – Individual or ‘Dividual’”.
The participants also travelled to Nagasaki City to visit the hypocenter and Atomic Bomb Museum to witness the inhumanity of atomic bombs. The group also visited Nagasaki University Research Centre for Nuclear Weapons Abolition (RECNA) for lectures, and had a chance to interact with Nagasaki City Mayor Mr. Taue and an atomic bomb survivor.
Shaping our Future
The second part of the program entitled “Theatres of Uncertainty Today” first focused on the issues in the Middle East. We invited an Orwell Prize-winning writer and lawyer Mr. Raja Shehadeh from Palestine to give another public lecture entitled “What Does Israel Fear from Palestine?” His lecture was thought-provoking regarding the issues and how the mindset of people on both sides had affected them. Another lecture was given by Prof. Monte Cassim, Director of Kyoto Museum for World Peace and Senior Advisor to the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka. He talked about lessons learned from the civil war in Sri Lanka that saw the loss of more than 70,000 victims and ended in 2009, and the significance of the Indian Ocean security.
The third part “Shaping Our Shared Future” was concluded with group presentations on the last day. Four groups presented their panel exhibits and original games (inside the brackets are the related artifacts from Kyoto Museum for World Peace and the topics); 1. Fearless (a gas mask / fear), 2. Kazuo’s Bento Box (a bento box that belonged to a boy who was killed by the atomic bomb attacked in Hiroshima / atomic bombs), 3. The Game of Truth (a blacked-out text book / censorship), 4. Overcoming Fear (a gas mask / fear). The panel exhibits included information regarding the artifacts and social situation from the time they were used, and raised questions about what we can do to build peace. The interactive games helped us to deepen our understanding of the background and dilemmas people faced. The presentations were very creative and unique.
The participants from a range of disciplines gained deeper understanding of how the public are co-opted into the process of war and conflict through the lectures, field work, active discussion and research, and created appealing outcomes. We believe it is a meaningful first step in order to lay the intellectual foundation for building peace. RENKEI PAX SCHOOL will evolve to next year’s counter program at University of Liverpool but we hope to see continuous and active research collaboration beyond this program.
- RENKEI Japan-UK Research and Education Network for Knowledge Economy Initiatives
- Ritsumeikan International Cooperation and Contribution
- Article on the public lecture by Mr. Keiichiro Hirano (Japanese version only)
- Article on the public lecture by Mr. Raja Shehadeh (Japanese version only)
- Article on the group presentations (Japanese version only)