Cooperation with Prof. Colin Barnes, Center for Disability Studies, University of Leeds, UK

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Prof. Barnes and members of the Research Center for Ars Vivendi at Ritsumeikan University, Kyoto, Japan, including Prof. Shin’ya Tateiwa, upper right

The Research Center for Ars Vivendi of Ritsumeikan University, has been in academic cooperation with Prof. Colin Barnes, director of the Centre for Disability Studies at the University of Leeds in UK since 2008. We officially concluded an agreement with the Centre for further academic and research collaboration in January 2011.

The track of our cooperative activities thus far is as follows:

In February 13, 2008, one of our members at the Research Center for Ars Vivendi, Ms. Akiko Tajima interviewed Prof. Barnes at the University of Leeds in UK.

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Prof. Barnes and Ms. Tajima at the University of Leeds, UK

Prof. Barnes and Ms. Tajima thematized the pioneering educational/research system of the Centre for Disability Studies at the University of Leeds, which would be able to show a good model for the prospect of the Research Center for Ars Vivendi. The Centre for Disability Studies at the University of Leeds started the first undergraduate courses in 1992 and the postgraduate courses, MA in 1993. In Japan, as soon as the Research Center for Ars Vivendi was launched in 2007, a number of students including those who have their own disabilities became interested in our mission and joined in the Graduate School of Core Ethics and Frontier Sciences of Ritsumeikan University - the nucleus of our Research Center - from all over Japan. We have also welcomed students from foreign countries, especially many students from Korea.

From September 21 to 24 in 2010, Prof. Barnes and Dr. Alison Sheldon, both of whom are affiliated with the Centre for Disability Studies at the University of Leeds, taught intensive course at Ritsumeikan University.

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Prof. Barnes and Dr. Sheldon teaching a course at Ritsumeikan University

The two scholars were invited to provide an intensive course on disability studies to graduate students of Ritsumeikan University, by Professor Shin’ya Tateiwa, the founder and director of the Research Center for Ars Vivendi in February 2010. The invitation was due to a longstanding involvement in the development of disability studies at both universities.

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Prof. Tateiwa, Ritsumeikan University

The classes were attended by 22 graduate students and scholars from Japan and Korea. Topics covered in lectures included: definitions and theories of disability, disability policy and practice, disability in global perspective, and disability politics. Corresponding seminars focused on the relevance of these topic areas to the experience of disabled people in Japan and Korea. Discussions between the two scholars from UK and Asia-based scholars were very fruitful. Question and answer sessions during the seminars were translated from Japanese into English and vice versa almost simultaneously by Ms. Midori Hiraga and Dr. Tetsu Hakoda.

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Ms. Hiraga, Prof. Barnes, Dr. Alison, and Dr. Hakoda from left to right

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Mr. Kaname Uemura, a graduate student of the Graduate School of Core Ethics and Frontier Sciences, Ritsumeikan University

We - the members of the Research Center for Ars Vivendi - not only learnt a lot from these lectures, but also gave a lot of information to the scholars at the University of Leeds. Our vast archive of writings on health, Japanese disability policy and disability politics collected and archived by Professor Tateiwa and his team - over 7000 books and innumerable articles, pamphlets and magazines written by disabled activists and scholars catalogued and stored dating back to the 1950s - definitely impressed the scholars from UK. We do hope that the cooperation between Ritsumeikan University and the University of Leeds will surely contribute to the development of disability studies from now on too.

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