Feb 2, 2024

Western Cape, Keio Fellows Featured at Symposium Co-Organized by the Tokyo Foundation

Two Sylff fellows were featured at a symposium held in Tokyo to discuss the biggest challenges facing global society, consider the changes required in adapting to a digitalized world, and explore ways to develop the human resources needed to build a brighter future. The November 9 hybrid event was jointly organized by the Tokyo Foundation for Policy Research and the Sasakawa Peace Foundation.

The session focusing on the activities of the Tokyo Foundation began with Executive Director Mari Suzuki introducing the Sylff program. She described the history of the global fellowship, launched at a time when the Cold War was nearing its end, and described the unique decentralized nature of its operations focused on developing the leaders required in each country and community.

Executive Director Mari Suzuki.

This was followed by a video introducing the Basic Concepts Program developed by Louis Benjamin (University of the Western Cape, 2001) as part of his doctoral studies. Using a Sylff Project Grant, Benjamin implemented the program from 2019 to 2022 in rural and disadvantaged communities of Northern Cape Province—one of the poorest regions of South Africa. BCP is a cognitive intervention initiative aimed at enhancing the preparedness of preschool children for early school education and beyond, and it is now being used throughout South Africa in collaboration with the Department of Basic Education and other education trusts and NPOs.

Mihoko Sakurai (Keio University, 2013) made an in-person presentation on the importance of enhanced global interaction in fostering the next generation of researchers in the digital age—drawing on her own experiences as a young scholar at US and European universities. She is an expert on information systems, particularly on how local municipalities can more effectively use digital tools to enhance community resilience in coping with natural disasters. In addition to serving as an executive research fellow and associate professor at the Global Communication Center, International University of Japan, she has recently been appointed a senior expert for disaster readiness in the Japanese government’s Digital Agency.

Mihoko Sakurai.