Academic Frontier Projects
What are Academic Frontier Projects
The “Academic Frontier” Project is supported by Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology for promoting the improvement of academic research in private universities, and is a system which selects from among the research labs and research graduate schools of universities, in each important research area, an “academic frontier promotion hub” that is a prominent research organization expected to show great research achievement in their future research development, and provides critical and overall support for the upgrading of research facilities and research equipment and research fees that are necessary for conducting cooperative research with research institutions both at home and abroad.
The research theme proposed by the university, “Establishment of academic principles for the protection of cultural heritage and artistic works from natural disasters” was selected in 2005 by Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and is now composed of three projects.
- Project for Constructing Towns (and regions) to Prevent Disaster (Disaster prevention research for cultural heritage, artistic works, and regions that contain them.)
- Project for Disaster Prevention of Cultural Heritage and Artistic Works (Research for disaster prevention and elucidation of the historicity, cultural nature and social nature of cultural heritage and artistic works)
- Project for Disaster Prevention Spatial Information Science (Research in disaster prevention and special information science of cultural heritage and artistic works)
Measures for protecting cultural assets from natural disasters have been conducted since old times, but catastrophic factors that are the object of these measures were primarily for protecting from aging and the outbreak of fires in such places as temples and shrines, and did not very much reflect natural disasters such as earthquakes or severe flooding. At the same time, natural disaster research has been lacking a viewpoint of treating special cultural heritage that cannot be replaced as different from ordinary things. It is also a historical truth that even towards museums that store works of art there has been no special attention paid from the viewpoint of protecting them from natural disaster, and it can be said that the disastrous flooding of Dresden was one example of that.
In regards to disaster prevention of cultural heritage and artistic objects, cultural assets have been forgotten in the field of disaster prevention. However in recent years, as a result of warning bells going off over this state, government and independent organizations both began indicating interest in this problem. Ritsumeikan’s program was therefore recognized in 2003 21st Century COE Program, and it began working as the sole research organization in the field of cultural asset disaster prevention.
In protecting historical cities possessing irreplaceable cultural heritage and works of art from natural disaster and to pass them on to future generations, it is necessary to go beyond the pre-existing problem resolution style’s of disaster science and frameworks of disaster prevention engineering, and to work in a manner that synthesizes the humanities and sciences, also including the humanities and social sciences related to the protection of cultural assets from disaster. For this purpose researchers and practitioners of all fields must work together to form national and international networks and promote research. We believe that it is also necessary for research to continue even after the conclusion of the 21st Century COE Program, and to perform research exceeding that framework in association with domestic and international research institutions and regions (governments, corporations, organizations, residents, etc.) To achieve that, we would like to set the Research Center for Disaster Mitigation of Urban Cultural Heritage as a Promotion bases of “Academic Frontier” Project and go ahead with improving the facilities and conditions of research.
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