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Professor Shin-Ichi Ohnuma recognised for Japan-UK academic co-operation

Sian EGardiner26 January 2018

Professor Shin-Ichi Ohnuma and Japan AmbassadorUCL’s Japan ambassador Professor Shin-Ichi Ohnuma has been awarded the Foreign Minister’s Commendation for his contribution to Japan-UK academic and educational relations.

Earlier this month, Ambassador Koji Tsuruoka presented Ohnuma, Professor at the Institute of Ophthalmology, with the award at a ceremony at the Embassy of Japan in London.

In addition to his work as Director of the PhD programme of the Sensory System, Technology and Therapies, Professor Ohnuma has worked over many years to strengthen UCL’s ties with Japan.

Historic links

Professor Ohnuma’s collaborative work includes the organisation of numerous important events. In 2013, he helped to organise celebrations involving various Japanese organisations to mark the 150th anniversary of UK-Japan academic collaboration, when five Japanese samurai – known as the ‘Choshu Five’ – first came to study at UCL.

Speaking after receiving his award, Professor Ohnuma said, “UCL has an amazing history with Japan, which includes the Choshu-Five and Satsuma-19.

“But in my role as UCL’s Japan ambassador and through active interaction with Japanese universities, high schools, and industries, I want to increase the status of UCL in Japan, improving recognition and the number of Japanese students studying here.”

Improving UK-Japan relations

In 2014, Ohnuma played an important part in the ‘Japan-UK Universities Conference for Collaboration in Research and Education,’ co-hosted by UCL and the Embassy of Japan in the UK.

Attended by 14 Japanese universities, 16 UK universities and the Prime Minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe, the conference encouraged further collaboration for not only UCL but many universities in both the UK and Japan.

A champion of future talent, Professor Ohnuma has also worked to encourage mutual understanding between young people in Japan and the UK. In 2015, he established the UCL-Japan Youth Challenge programme to promote interaction between students in both countries.

Hosted by many organisations in the UK, it has since been held annually, with around 100 students from both countries involved.

Contributions to Fukushima

Professor Ohnuma has also made significant contributions to his home prefecture, Fukushima, which was badly affected by the 2011 nuclear disaster. On top of supporting reconstruction efforts in the area, he played a key role in arranging a Memorandum of Understanding between UCL and the Fukushima prefectural government, and supported UCL students’ recent visit to the region.

Of the visit he said, “This month I visited Fukushima – where the East Japan Disaster inflicted huge damage six years ago – with 10 UCL and UCL Academy students, to understand the current status of Fukushima and encourage young generations in the area.”

At last week’s ceremony, Ambassador Tsuruoka congratulated Professor Ohnuma on his significant contribution to UK-Japan relations. Commenting on his award, Ohnuma said, “It is a great honour for me to receive this award from the Japanese Government.”

Ask GEO: Lizzy Deacon, Senior Partnership Manager (East Asia)

Sian EGardiner10 January 2018


Could you give a brief overview of your role and the activity in your region?

I’m the Senior Partnership Manager for East Asia and I’ve been in the role for nearly six months.

I’m responsible for implementing UCL’s Global Engagement Strategy in the region, which involves facilitating our partnerships of equivalence, principally with Peking University (PKU). We have several other important partnerships in East Asia, including with Osaka University in Japan.

Part of my role involves nurturing these partnerships, which includes organising bilateral delegation visits and monitoring the agreements made in our MOUs [memorandums of understanding]. So far I’ve already been on two delegation visits led by the Provost – one to Japan and one to China – and I got married in between the two, so it’s been rather a baptism of fire!

What led you to the role?

I studied Chinese with International Relations at Durham and SOAS, and was always keen to work in an environment that made use of my knowledge of the country and the language. I lived in China for a year as part of my degree before working at Oxford University in international programmes/partnerships for eight years, followed by Queen Mary University, where I managed a large joint programme with a university in China. When I saw this job come up I was really excited because it gave me the opportunity to move into a more strategic role.

You went on the Provost’s trip to China late last year. How did it go?

It was hugely successful. The focus of the visit was a trip to PKU. We visited three of the key schools at PKU with whom we have strong collaborations (the School for Chinese as a Second Language, the National School of Development and the Yenching Academy). We also had a Presidential-level meeting at which we signed a memo which details the main strands of our collaboration with PKU, and signed the agreement for a new dual MA programme in Health and Humanity.

We also visited Hanban, where the Provost gave a very well-received speech about the UCL IoE Confucius Institute, and we met with the head of the British Council in China and the British Ambassador. In addition, the Provost presided over UCL’s first ever graduation celebration for Chinese graduands and their families in China.

What was your personal highlight of the trip?

Probably building a relationship with my counterpart at PKU: I think it will really help the relationship to flourish. Also, attending (and salsa dancing at) the Beijing Alumni Ball, together with the whole team, including the Provost.

How can academics find out more about UCL activity in the region?

We have some region-specific funding schemes, both with the university of Hong Kong (the strategic partnership fund around Grand Challenges themes, led by OVPR) and we also have a PKU strategic partner seed funding scheme, which is about to reopen. You can find all of the information about this on the GEO web pages.

I’m also really keen to get out there and meet academics who have significant collaborations in the region. If they need information about a specific partner university or want to know whether or not there’s an existing collaboration with a university in their region, please get in touch with me! All UCL staff who are interested in the East Asia Region are also welcome to join the regional network.

What are you looking forward to in 2018?

One of my priorities for 2018 is following up on the momentum generated by our successful Japan visit. It’s really exciting that our partnerships there are moving forward at such a pace and I’m looking forward to working with our partners to further deepen our collaborations.

UCL-HKU collaborations offer solutions to the world’s Grand Challenges

GuestBlogger25 September 2017

By Greg Tinker, Communications Manager, Office of the Vice-Provost (Research)

A new partnership between UCL and Hong Kong University (HKU) was established during academic year 2016-17 to encourage joint research relating to the UCL Grand Challenges.

The joint scheme encourages cooperative projects on pressing global issues, as identified by the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Its highlighted priorities include urbanisation and sustainable cities, healthy ageing, global health, translational medicine, food and water safety and security, transformative technology, transcultural studies including China studies, and justice and equality.

UCL’s Grand Challenges programme – addressing Global Health, Sustainable Cities, Cultural Understanding, Human Wellbeing, Transformative Technology and Justice & Equality – provides an inter-institutional strategic framing for the joint scheme.

The first awards were made in April this year, to two projects:

  • ‘Writing in the City’ – to Professor Li Wei of the Culture, Communication and Media department at the UCL Institute of Education, collaborating with Professor Adam Jaworski at HKU’s School of English
  • ‘Non-pharmacological interventions in dementia’ – to Dr Aimee Spector, of UCL Clinical, Educational and Health Psychology, collaborating with Dr Gloria HY Wong and Professor Terry YS Lum of HKU’s Department of Social Work and Social Administration

Dr Spector has already begun work on her project, focusing on treatments like Cognitive Stimulation Therapy for dementia sufferers. The collaboration will result in a conference in Hong Kong to be held in December, featuring presenters from China, Hong Kong, the US, New Zealand, Italy, Brazil and Denmark. It will also include CST training for attendees from around the world.

The joint UCL – HKU team has also been working on a joint publication, involving a systematic review of Mindfulness-based interventions for people with cognitive impairment. The collaboration has built a close relationship between Dr Spector and her HKU counterparts, leading to exchanges of doctoral students between London and Hong Kong. The students will benefit from working and studying abroad and their engagement will hopefully lead to further joint publications.

Dr Ian Scott, Director of the UCL Grand Challenges and cross disciplinary development, said: “It’s good to know that the first projects in UCL’s joint scheme with Hong Kong University are making great progress. At UCL we are confident that there will be strong downstream research and societal benefits from bringing UCL and HKU researchers together to address globally significant issues from London and Hong Kong perspectives.

“The HKU-UCL joint scheme holds promise to be an important model for other international strategic partnerships between UCL and other world-class universities like HKU, framed by a mutual determination to harness the best expertise in the world in actions designed to prepare now for the challenges of the 22nd  century.

“While the 2016-17 UCL-HKU projects are still in progress, we look forward to the outcome of the current call for the next proposals for joint work in academic year 2017-18, to support further high quality joint initiatives in tackling and finding novel pathways to solutions to the world’s Grand Challenges.”

UCL delegation visit Japan, こんにちは!

JasonLewis19 September 2017

UCL President & Provost Professor Michael Arthur and a delegation from UCL is currently visiting Japan to strengthen collaborations there.

The relationship between UCL and Japan dates back 150 years to the Choshu Five’s arrival at UCL.

The visit, from from 25 September to 5 October, is part of UCL’s long-term commitment to build on historical links through partnerships with leading Japanese institutions and governmental bodies, research collaborations and student exchanges with top universities.

It is also an opportunity to connect with and celebrate our Japan-based alumni.

Non-exhaustive map of UCL collaborations in Japan

Non-exhaustive map of UCL collaborations in Japan

Historical Legacy

After leaving UCL, the Choshu Five went on to become the founding fathers of modern Japan.

Choshu Five

Choshu Five

The Choshu Five included Hirobumi Ito, who became Japan’s first Prime Minister and is otherwise known as ‘the Father of the Japanese Constitution’ and ‘the Father of  parliamentary government in Japan’. The other men were Kaoru Inoue, who became Japan’s first Foreign Minister, also known as ‘the Father of modern Japanese diplomacy’, Yozo Yamao, ‘the Father of Japanese engineering’, Masaru Inoue, ‘the Father of Japanese railways’, and Kinsuke Endo, ‘the Father of the modern Japanese mint’.

Their legacy is still very much celebrated both in the UK and in Japan. In 2013, UCL took part in a high-profile celebration of the 150th anniversary of the arrival of the ‘Choshu Five’ in the UK.

The Choshu Five were followed soon after, in 1865, by a second group from Japan. This group of 19, a mix of students and supervisors, mostly came from the Satsuma region, hence their name ‘the Satsuma Group’. Members of this group went on to be successful diplomats, bring in compulsory education for all and founded Japan’s first modern factory.

satsuma1

Satsuma Group

satsuma2

To symbolise this significant history, the Japan Monument stands in the garden next to the South Cloisters at UCL. The names of the Choshu Five and the Satsuma Group are engraved on the granite monument next to a Japanese waka (poem).

jpnPMatMonument

Japanese Prime Minister Mr Shinzo Abe & UCL President & Provost Professor Michael Arthur at the Japan Monument during the Prime Minister’s visit to UCL in 2014.

jpnMonClose

Japan Monument

 

The inscription on the side of the monument reads,
はるばるとこころつどいてはなさかる
(Harubaru to kokoro tsudoite hana sakaru)

‘When distant minds come together, cherries blossom’

Current Student Trends

Following in the footsteps of the Choshu Five and the Satsuma group, many Japanese students have studied at UCL.

UCL is the second biggest recruiter of Japanese students in the UK and the number of Japanese students welcomed every year has remained fairly consistent over the past decade. There are currently over 150 students from Japan enrolled at UCL (2016/17).

Japanese Students at UCL by School (2016/17)

In addition to a vibrant and growing UCL Japanese Society, the UCL Japan Club – alumni group for Japan-based alumni –  has established a tight and strong community to keep in touch with friends and generations of UCL alumni.

UCL also hosts the annual UCL-Japan Youth Challenge. Initiated in 2015, this is a special summer school that welcomes pre-university students from the UK and Japan to UCL. The programme consists of various intercultural learning activities and events for both students and teachers from the two countries.

UCL-Japan Youth Challenge

UCL-Japan Youth Challenge

Current activity between UCL & Japan

There is an exciting amount of engagement between UCL and Japan. UCL Global is currently celebrating the iconic history UCL shares with Japan, as well as highlighting a number of contemporary collaborations. To be part of this and to keep up-to-date with our activities in Japan during the visit, follow us on Twitter.

Ask GEO: Alejandro Moreno, Strategic Data Manager

JasonLewis15 September 2017

Alejandro_5796_SquareAlejandro is GEO’s Strategic Data Manager. Through analysis of the various databases that UCL uses and produces, Alejandro monitors the levels, patterns and progress of global activity underway across the university, which helps track delivery of the Global Engagement Strategy. He tells us more about his work and reveals some interesting statistics about UCL’s collaborations abroad.

Tell us more about your role in GEO
My role is to map UCL’s relationship with the world, one map at a time. The idea is that we have a database into how we interact across the globe, for example: How many students from Japan study in UCL? How may UCL graduates work in South Africa? How do we make an impact on South America rural areas? How many collaborations do we have with American Universities? Answering those questions is broadly speaking my role.

How could you be of support to UCL staff outside of GEO?
If there is a question as to what UCL is doing in certain geographical areas, or where we are collaborating with a specific institution, that is a query I can help with. Let’s assume an academic is travelling to Colombia for a conference: he could contact us and we could let him know which other academics have links in the country. That way he would be aware of UCL’s relationship with Colombia and know more about the specifics of collaborating there from first-hand experience.

Could you share some interesting statistics on UCL’s global activity we might not ordinarily be aware of?
Sure, below is a sample showing our wide geographical reach in terms of institutions we have collaborated with. UCL has collaborated with around 1,000 institutions worldwide.

UCL collaborations infographic
Also, since I am from Mexico, here you can see the places where Mexican institutions have downloaded UCL e-books though JStor:

Mexico infographic
What are you working on at the moment?
I’m working on mapping the collaborations that UCL has with China, and which faculties collaborate in which city:

China infographic

Contact Alejandro on:

a.moreno@ucl.ac.uk
+44 (0)20 3108 7789 / internal 57789

Innovative approaches to faculty exchange: UCL MAPS and SNU

JasonLewis25 July 2017

UCL Professor Nikos Konstantinidis (Vice-Dean International, MAPS) recently facilitated a new student exchange with Seoul National University (SNU) in South Korea, with support from UCL Study Abroad.

The students will work with each institution’s academics on their ongoing research projects, learning more about the local culture and research landscape.

In this short video, he explains how the exchange came about and considers the opportunities available to UCL faculties wanting to develop similar links with international institutions.

Filmed and edited by UCL graduate Jason Lewis.

The idea was sparked during a fruitful visit to UCL by a delegation from SNU in December 2016.

Nikos was able to explore the possibility further during a GEO-supported visit to SNU in January 2017. It was then that talks were finalised and an agreement was made to trial the exchange between the two physics departments, with scope for extending to others.

UCL Study Abroad worked in collaboration with colleagues from Physics and Astronomy at UCL and SNU, to ensure that there was a framework in place to support the research exchange.

The team provided support to the participating students through pre-departure guidance and continues to offer support to the students while they are abroad.

Commenting on the support available from UCL to facilitate such exchanges, Nikos said: “It was originally thanks to the Global Leadership Funds from the Global Engagement Office that I covered my expenses for my visit to Seoul. Also, it is thanks to the same funds that we were able to find some bursaries for the three students from the UCL department of Physics and Astronomy who are currently in Seoul. If there is interest and we have enough funds, we will extend this to other departments.”

He added: “I think there is a lot of interest from our students wanting to take up this type of opportunities, and we should really try our best to pursue these types of opportunities with universities of good reputation.”

Owain Evans, Short Mobilities Coordinator at UCL Study Abroad, said: “The feedback we have received from the students so far has been extremely positive; we look forward to hearing more about their experiences at SNU and in Seoul when they return to London at the end of the summer.”

The Global Leadership Funds are provided to UCL’s academic leadership network of Vice-Deans International and Regional Pro-Vice-Provosts to deliver activity aligned with the Global Engagement Strategy.

  • To explore international undergraduate research opportunities on behalf of the students in your department through existing or new collaborations, contact UCL Study Abroad on studyabroad@ucl.ac.uk or +44 (0)20 3108 7773.

UCL graduate wins One World Media Award for China documentary

SophieVinter8 June 2017

UCL graduate Minmin Wu won the Student Award at the One World Media Awards for her graduation film 'Waste'UCL graduate Minmin Wu (MA Ethnographic and Documentary Film 2016), has won the 2017 Student Award at the One World Media Awards for her graduation film Waste.

Waste follows Yanin Ma, an 11-year- old girl living with leukaemia in China. Having spent the last month undergoing chemotherapy in Guangzhou City, she now wants only to go home. But Yanin’s hometown in Shantou is one of the most heavily polluted cities in the world and some believe this could be a cause of her illness.

Minmin is the second Open City Docs School MA graduate to receive the accolade, after Fernando González Mitjans’ win for his graduation film Limpiadores in 2016.

She was one of 25 who formed the second cohort of Masters students in UCL’s new MA in Ethnographic and Documentary Film. Her film exemplifies the kind of work the MA’s tutors set out to encourage – rooted in the research culture of a great university but made in the highly personal voice and cinematic vision of the filmmaker.

Minmin said: “I want to thank UCL, Open City Docs School, my tutors and my friends who helped me make this film. I made this film not just because I wanted to raise attention to environmental pollution in China but also because I had similar experiences to what the characters go through in my film. I wanted to share their feelings and story with a wider audience.”

Read the full story here.

Bridging the gap: social media use in China

SophieVinter13 September 2016

UCL's Xinyuan Wang doing field work among young Chinese factory workers“While ‘Made in China’ products have become pervasive in our daily lives, the people who produce them remain mysterious. However, our research reveals that Chinese factory workers actually exhibit an unexpected and sophisticated use of social media to bridge the gap between their rural roots and their industrial lives.”

Author Xinyuan Wang is referring to her new open-access book, Social Media in Industrial China, which launched on 13 September along with its sister title Social Media in Rural China in a special online broadcast from Hong Kong University.

A PhD candidate at the UCL department of anthropology, Xinyuan spent 15 months undertaking fieldwork in a small factory town in southeast China, living in one of the factories and tracking the workers’ use of social media.

By studying this marginalized population – who have, in many ways, embraced the potential of social media to the fullest – her in-depth research sheds light not just on Chinese social media usage, but also on the nature of contemporary China.

Xinyuan’s research is part of the UCL-led global social media impact study, ‘Why We Post’, which The Economist has described as “the biggest, most ambitious project of its sort.”

From 13-23 September Xinyuan is joining Professor Daniel Miller, the lead researcher of Why We Post, and fellow author Tom McDonald, who received his PhD from UCL anthropology and is currently an associate professor at Hong Kong University, in giving a series of talks about the project in nine top universities in Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Beijing and Shanghai.

Social media as education

Tom McDonald, Xinyuan Wang and Daniel Miller at the online book launchWhy We Post saw a team of nine anthropologists each spend 15 months living in villages or towns in eight different countries.

As well as two fieldsites in China, locations included a town on the Syrian-Turkish border, low income settlements in Brazil and Chile, an IT complex set between villages in South India, small towns in south Italy and Trinidad and a village in England.

In China, Xinyuan found that social media is playing a key role in filling the gap left by the lack of education and schooling. She said: “For young migrant workers who dropped out of school early and became factory workers before adulthood, social media is the ‘post-school’ education and this schooling implies their ‘coming of the age’.

“For many migrant workers, social media is less of a bridge that connects with what they have left behind in villages, than a projector which illuminates an ideal modern life these people are longing for. Therefore it is a study of two paralleled migrations: one from rural to urban, but simultaneously another migration from offline to online.”

Open access

All the books from Why We Post are being published by UCL Press as open access in 2016-2017.

Xinyuan added: “The free online knowledge provided by Open Access allows the possibility of a significantly extended readership, which is extremely important for books focusing on how the digital can possibly change the lives of marginalised populations and low income populations.

“To bring this knowledge of Chinese social media in the context of the global comparative study back to China is a big commitment the project aims to make, with the ultimate goal of free global education.”

UCL-Japan collaboration on disaster management

SophieVinter2 August 2016

Written by Dr. Ryo Torii, Lecturer, UCL Mechanical Engineering

Students taking part in the UCL-Japan Young Challenge present during the symposiumA disaster management symposium held at UCL discussed how experience from the Great East-Japan Earthquake and Tsunami in 2011 can be used to build safety systems and resilience against future crises.

Expert speakers, staff and students from both the UK and Japan shared their views of disaster management by presenting their academic, industrial and administrative activities towards building a resilient society against unpredictable disasters.

The event was created in the framework of an academic relationship between UCL and Japan that started 153 years ago, when five samurais came to study here.

Lessons from 2011 disasters

The public symposium, on 28 July, was organised by Professor Shin-Ichi Ohnuma (Institute of Ophthalmology) and Professor Peter Sammonds (Institute for Risk and Disaster Reduction).

Tsunami that hit the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station in 2011A delegation from Fukushima prefecture, which suffered from the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear power plant problem, reported the history of their response to the disasters and recovery to date.

A strong emphasis was placed on the importance of local community and dialogue.

Hope for the future

Groups of young students – participants in the 10-day UCL-Japan Young Challenge summer school – also presented their thoughts on disasters.

Approximately 50 British and Japanese students at A-level and equivalent shared experience of intensive academic workshops and lectures, cultural and language exchanges.

They presented what they discussed in a “disaster workshop” a day earlier, demonstrating a great awareness of, and consideration for, future risk.

Continuing relationship

Professor Peter Sammonds presenting during the symposiumThe symposium was followed by a reception, opened by Prof Nick Tyler (Department of Civil, Environmental & Geomatic Engineering), to celebrate the UCL-Japan partnership.

In July 2015, UCL signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Fukushima prefecture to facilitate the public understanding of Fukushima and to provide high-level educational opportunities to students in the area.

In March 2016, Fukushima prefecture government hosted 15 students and researchers from UCL and the UCL Academy, including a special visit to the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.

This recent series of events were to follow that up with a special focus on disasters and the resilience of society. This international relationship will continue and be developed even further for the future as a basis of multifaceted interaction.