The Biwako-Kusatsu Campus (BKC) celebrated its 30th anniversary in April 2024, and throughout this academic year, Ritsumeikan will hold a range of commemorative events. These events started with the “BKC 30th Anniversary Kickoff Symposium—BKC's Outlook with an Eye on Becoming a Next-Generation Research University," which was held on April 30 at Rohm Plaza and attracted about 150 faculty and staff members.

The first part of the event consisted of presentations by the deans of BKC's six colleges and was followed by a lively discussion on the future development and growth potential of BKC in a panel discussion of the deans in the second part.

Deans’ Presentations: “The Appeal of BKC and Future Concept for its Colleges and Graduate School”

Vice President Tadao Isaka, Chair of the BKC 30th Anniversary Event Organizing Committee, began the symposium by speaking about BKC's 30-year history, its ties with the local community, and how Ritsumeikan has used BKC as a vehicle to create value for coexisting with society. Specifically, he mentioned the need to turn the campus into a "living laboratory" that generates innovation in order to create a virtuous cycle as a nexus of connections between improving the wellbeing of the local community and promoting the development of research and education at the university. He also talked about the concept of an innovation campus, using the keywords of “innovation, incubation, and implementation.” Vice Present Isaka concluded his opening remarks and kicked off the symposium by saying, "We would like to hold a discussion with the deans of the colleges about what shape BKC should take as Ritsumeikan aims to become a next-generation research university and share this with the audience.”

Vice President Tadao Isaka, Chair of the BKC 30th Anniversary Event Organizing Committee

The first speaker in part one, Dean of the College of Science and Engineering Shigeru Takayama, touched on socially responsible value creation, the formation and development of a pool of science talent, and the incorporation of basic science-related liberal arts into integrated education. In particular, he spoke about the importance of supporting incubation to produce startups as an extension of industry-academia collaboration and fostering entrepreneurship to create unicorns.
He also expressed the views of the College of Science and Engineering on the plan to establish a Center for Basic Science Education and the incorporation of basic science into integrated education, including the expansion of partnerships with science-oriented junior and senior high schools. Finally, he discussed his expectations for BKC's positioning as an incubator where the Academy and various institutions can tap into each other’s resources amid the growing diversification of education.

Next, Dean of the College of Economics Kazuko Takaya introduced her college based on the question of “What is economics?” After referring to the origins of the word economics, she introduced an example of regional cooperation in which students collaborated with a local company to create graduation souvenirs based on the idea of all parties benefitting, and she showcased the college’s initiatives, including an economic behavioral analysis in relation to the SDGs and how learning in the undergraduate college and graduate school is tied to the local community.
She explained that economics is the study of how to achieve well-being by way of economic analytics and theories. She pledged that the college will work to develop BKC into a platform for the development of talent who can engage in discussions and make proposals.

Shigeru Takayama, Dean of the College of Science and Engineering
Kazuko Takaya, Dean of the College of Economics

The next speaker, Mamoru Wakayama, the Dean of the College of Life Sciences, discussed “the 21st century as an era in which ideas about wealth have shifted from material things to the mind,” and he explained that the two foundations of well-being are "development in harmony with nature” and "health issues.” He said that in order to realize a sustainable society, issues with new energy and the environment will be major challenges as well as matters pertaining to the current generation’s responsibility to future generations. In conjunction with this, he touched on the issue of the super-aging society, including preventive medicine and longevity medicine.
Furthermore, he said he expects to see a strengthening of external sector fields such as decarbonization and new energy. Finally, he discussed research, initiatives to produce human resources, and moves toward new developments aimed at expanding the graduate school.

Next, Ryo Kitahara, the Dean of the College of Pharmaceutical Sciences, commented on the new curriculum that commenced in AY2024. He touched on the new cross-college course called "Human Well-Being" launched by the College of Pharmaceutical Sciences, the College of Gastronomy Management, and the College of Sport and Health Science; the curriculum for next-generation medicine, including regenerative medicine and gene therapy; the establishment of "Pharmacy Career Seminar,” an internship-style seminar course for second-year students that combines practical education and human resources development via industry-academia collaboration; and the introduction of a new course called "Unmet Medical Needs" (which deals with diseases for which drugs have not been developed). He finished with a strong statement, declaring that he would like to see "all colleges cooperating with each other so that Ritsumeikan and BKC can become one in the pursuit of creating a world of well-being.”

Mamoru Wakayama, Dean of the College of Life Sciences
Ryo Kitahara, Dean of the College of Pharmaceutical Sciences

Jin Nagazumi, the Dean of the College of Sport and Health Science, described BKC as "performing at the forefront of cutting-edge science," and he talked about his expectations for the campus as a place where students, local residents, researchers, and private companies can gather and share their wisdom with each other. He further explained that in order to produce innovative and emergent human resources who can create new value, the College of Sport and Health Science introduced a new curriculum in the AY2023.
Finally, in terms of place branding for BKC, he spoke of the importance of creating strengths as a comprehensive university and expressed his aspiration to leverage the 30th anniversary as an opportunity to design the relationships among people, society, and science and imbue them with meaning.

Next, Masayoshi Ishida, the Dean of the College of Gastronomy Management mentioned that the college is the first comprehensive food science school in Japan, and he explained the history of the relationship between food and academia. He stated that the college is pursuing a concept of incorporating all existing disciplines in university education into the study of food, which is called "Scienze Gastronomiche" in Italian or "Gastronomic Sciences" in English.
He explained the need for a thorough reality-based education that expands upon disciplines across the natural sciences, humanities, and social sciences and makes a commitment to the people working on the front lines of food. He concluded by saying, "My dream is for the Academy to play a central role in an ecosystem centered on food for many years to come.”

Jin Nagazumi, Dean of the College of Sport and Health Science
Masayoshi Ishida, Dean of the College of Gastronomy Management

BKC as a hub for creating value for coexisting with society

In the second half, a panel discussion was held on the topic of working from BKC to create value for coexistence with society. Vice President Isaka served as the facilitator, and the deans of each college offered a variety of opinions.
With regard to industry-university collaboration, he introduced the Project for Strengthening the Environment for Innovation Creation at Core Regional Universities and the establishment of the Grassroots Innovation Center. The deans commented on the need to keep in mind the connection with social values in both research and work and to include resources such as regional characteristics, corporate needs, and the value for both BKC and the community, in addition to research facilities and ideas. They also exchanged opinions on how important it is for Ritsumeikan, as a next-generation research university, to expand and recombine research and education, including the development of human resources that companies are looking for.
Next, with regard to the field of health, longevity, and quality of life (QOL), Vice President Isaka introduced the development of a new research field at BKC called the "embodied environment," then turning to the field of education, he touched on the PBL course "Human Well-Being" that was established by the College of Pharmaceutical Sciences, the College of Gastronomy Management, and the College of Sport and Health Science, after which the panel exchanged their opinions.

In closing, when asked to say a few words about the future of BKC, the deans delivered strong messages of hope for the future development of their respective colleges and research fields, as well as for BKC's contribution to society and the region, paying heed to the significance of being welcomed by Shiga Prefecture 30 years ago.

After the lively discussion, the facilitator, College of Science and Engineering Professor Shima Okada, summed up her impressions as follows: "Even the structures of academic disciplines that were supposed to remain unchanged are changing as interdisciplinary research expands. Remembering the importance of connections, we will continue to pursue research, interact with the community, and engage in academic exchange, and over the next 30 years, I think we will further cement BKC’s presence as ‘the world’s BKC. As both an alumnus and a faculty member, I would like to do what I can to help while keeping an eye on future developments.”

Professor Shima Okada, College of Science and Engineering
A scene from the panel discussion

In closing, Vice President Isaka expressed his gratitude for the past 30 years and said, "Going forward, let's further develop BKC while broadening and deepening our connections, valuing the richness and diversity of academic research, and involving more people in what we do. I would like to create a sense of unity with all of you over the next year as we move forward with an eye on the next 30 years."


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