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R&D Program: Interactions between Science, Technology, and Society Construction of a pragmatic scientist community contributing to stakeholder-driven management of local environment
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Residential Research Institutions
Local Science Network for Environment and Sustainability
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Local Science Network for Environment and Sustainability
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Residential Research Institutions
What is a residential research institution?

A residential research institution is a university, research laboratory or any other research organization with researchers living in the local community where it is located as a part of community members. The missions of such research institutions is to contribute to solutions for local environmental problems through its transdisciplinary research activities.

Researchers working at residential research institutions have become committed to knowledge production for bringing about solutions to local-specific environmental problems. This is probably because residential researchers are professional knowledge producers who share local culture and value systems, and have a stake in the future of the local communities in which they live. Their dual roles as scientists and local residents with diverse interests allow the promotion of solution-oriented research compatible with local-specific settings.

Residential researchers offer a scientific basis for local residents who play an important role in producing local knowledge in individual communities. They have also collaborated with other types of researchers (such as visiting researchers and local residents conducting participatory research) in various ways. In addition, they work with diverse stakeholders as members of the local communities in which they reside.

Potential Residential Research Institutions

Potential residential research institutions in Japan include:

● Regional universities (such as Nagano University), local institutions attached to universities
● Municipally-owned institutions (such as Hyogo Prefectural Homeland for the Oriental White Stork), NGO-run institutions
● Museums (such as Shiga Prefectural Lake Biwa Museum), zoos, aquariums
● Agricultural experiment stations, fisheries experiment stations
● Biodiversity centers, wildlife conservation centers
● Nature observation centers, outdoor experience facilities

We need to understand how these diverse residential research institutions have become committed to solution-oriented knowledge production through interactions with local community stakeholders. There is also a need to identify requirements for them to function as knowledge producing entities that contribute to solutions for local environmental problems. Moreover, it is important to reveal what is happening in interactions between diverse stakeholders and scientists involved in environmental efforts, and examine how best to ensure productive collaboration between the two groups.

Collaboration Between Stakeholders and Diverse Knowledge Producers

Visiting researchers from universities and other research institutions in remote cities have produced diverse knowledge contributing to solutions for local environmental problems. However, they often do not share cultural and traditional contexts in relation to natural environments, local-specific problems, and responsibility for the future of local communities. They usually maintain little connection with local communities once their field studies are over. It is also likely that visiting researchers tend to focus on focused knowledge with little applicability in solving local-specific problems.

On the other hand, researchers at residential research institutions, acting as both scientists and local residents, facilitate the integration of scientific knowledge production into traditional knowledge, skills and value systems inherent to each locality. At the same time, they share responsibility for the future of communities, have pride and attachment for them, and are involved in decision-making processes as local community stakeholders. They are the perfect fit for consistently monitoring the natural environment and ecosystem services from the long-term perspective. However, residential research institutions alone cannot cope with all problems in many different research fields. Therefore, it is of the utmost importance for them to collaborate with visiting researchers from diverse fields in a complementary manner.

Diverse local community stakeholders also conduct community-based scientific research on environmental issues. This type of research effort has become increasingly important as a model of knowledge production closely reflecting the local contexts of environmental problems and also as a research style allowing long-term monitoring. Yet it is difficult for people involved in such community-driven research to obtain required expertise to design and maintain the processes of adaptive management for environment conservation and sustainable development.

We can expect the science community to become truly solution-oriented only when residential research institutions, visiting researchers and local stakeholders learn from and interact with each other, and produce knowledge applicable to community-based solutions of environmental issues.


© JST Construction of a pragmatic scientist community contributing to stakeholder-driven management of local environment