JSPS's Scientific Outreach
To establish a comprehensive policy for implementing the government's strategy to make Japan a nation rooted in S&T creativity, a series of Science and Technology Basic Plans have been enacted. The most recent third Plan sets as a policy priority the fostering of researchers and technicians who will shoulder the next generation of S&T advances in Japan. It calls for outreach activities by researchers; that is, for Japan's research community to make a more concerted effort to disseminate scientific information to society.
Of particular concern is the tendency in Japan for junior and senior high school students to shy away from math and science studies. To curb this trend, proactive, not passive, measures will need to be taken to foster a passionate interest in young people for scientific exploration and discovery.
To promote scientific research, JSPS carries out a wide range of research-support activities. As a funding agency, it has also in recent years launched programs to disseminate to the public research results along with information on programs to advance them.
This article describes two such outreach programs, both aimed at secondary school students. They are JSPS's "Science Dialogue Program" and its program "Welcome to a University Research Lab—Science That Inspires and Inspirits (HIRAMEKI TOKIMEKI Science)."
This program provides JSPS fellows with opportunities to give lectures on their research work at high schools in the vicinity of their Japanese host institutions. These talented young scientists volunteer to participate in this program. Their lectures are expected to stimulate the students' interest in research, while widening their international perspectives through interaction with the fellows.
Lectures are normally given in English. However, to enhance communications with the students, fellows may bring their host researcher or Japanese colleague with them to the school to provide commentary in Japanese.
Established in 2004, the program has year upon year received increasingly more requests from high schools for lectures. In the 2007 fiscal year, 129 lectures were held or scheduled.
JSPS fellows who have participated as lecturers in the program say the experience was a rewarding one. They enjoyed the chance it gave them to share information on their research and their zest for the work with the Japanese students and to act as representatives of their countries in introducing the students to their respective cultures and societies.
JSPS continuously recruits both fellows and high school faculties who would like to participate in the Science Dialogue Program.
For more detailed information on the program, please visit its site at http://www.jsps.go.jp/english/e-plaza/e-sdialogue/