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History of Science Education and Research at Doshisha

The history of science education and research at Doshisha began in 1890 when classes started at the Harris Science School. The Harris Science School opened at the same time as the establishment of the Harris Science Hall (Rikagakukan) (*1) with the financial support of J. N. Harris, an American who sympathized with Neesima’s passion for science education. The year 2015 marked its 125th anniversary. Probably the first institution or building of science education and research that used the word “rikagaku” (physics and chemistry) in its name, its establishment marked the beginning of Western natural sciences (rikagaku) in Japan. The Harris Science School opened based on the belief of Neesima, who was a Bachelor of Science (*2), that a scientific perspective is crucial for people’s happiness. Internationalism, Liberalism and Christian principles are not only the university-wide educational and research philosophy of Doshisha but also represent the foundation of science.

Continuing the tradition of the Harris Science School, the Science and Engineering Research Institute was established on the Imadegawa Campus in 1959 in commemoration of the 10th anniversary of the establishment of the Faculty of Engineering and has collaborated with the Faculty of Engineering in their joint effort to support the technological development of Japan during its rapid economic growth. The Science and Engineering Research Institute was relocated to the Kyotanabe Campus in 1994 along with the Faculty of Engineering, and in 2008 the Faculty of Engineering was restructured as the Faculty of Science and Engineering which consists of ten departments. After that, the Science and Engineering Research Institute developed a cooperative framework comprised of two faculties and three graduate schools in science, including the Faculty of Science and Engineering.

Meanwhile, new issues have emerged from the university’s internal circumstances and changes in society as well as the international situation in recent years. These include: how to disseminate Doshisha’s philosophy in science education and research and its historical background more clearly within and outside of the university; how to create a synergy that redefines the characteristics of the Kyotanabe Campus as Creative Hill as well as establishes new fields of education and research; and how the research institute can be more accessible to people. Discussions on these issues have become active within the research institute.

As a solution following the discussions, on the 125th anniversary of the establishment of the Harris Science School and Harris Science Hall, the Harris Science Research Institute was established in 2015 after reacknowledging the origin of science education and research at Doshisha. This new research institute is the restructured and renamed successor of the Science and Engineering Research Institute. Supported by six faculties and six graduate schools on the Kyotanabe Campus, the Harris Science Research Institute has been reformed to include all faculty members of all the faculties and graduate schools at the Kyotanabe Campus as its affiliated staff members. The total number of full-time and affiliated staff members of the Harris Science Research Institute in 2015 was 245.

(*1)
Harris Science Hall was designated by the Japanese government as an important cultural property in 1979.
(*2)
Neesima graduated from Amherst College in the United States in 1870, obtaining a Bachelor of Science. Since Japan had no university or college at that time, he became the first Japanese citizen to obtain an undergraduate degree from an academic institution.