Kyoto University and Jigme Singye Wangchuck Law School conducted their first joint symposium on research in Thimphu yesterday.

Although JSW Law has made early strides towards promoting faculty research, including the establishment of an in-house research centre, there is much that this new institution can learn from a long-established, globally esteemed multidisciplinary research university like Kyoto University, a press release from the school stated.

The symposium ‘Promoting a Culture of Academic Research: Lessons from Kyoto for Bhutan’s first law school’ was to draw a clearer picture of the academic research culture at JSW Law and to build a deeper understanding of how research informs the scholarship of an institution.

With Kyoto University, JSW Law also aims to explore some of the challenges that are present across various branches of academic research and to offer recommendations which is expected to contribute to developing academic and research excellence.

JSW Law head of research Kristy DeRemer said the law school has established the network in October 2017 and extend the network to researchers in other sectors and websites abroad.

She said that one of the challenges is many of the institutions have multiple research entities that are specifically oriented towards one topic or another. “At JSW Law we know that we don’t have capacity for that nor we need that because of the size and the focused vision of the law school,” she said. “So the law school decided to move on GNH, Law, and development.”

While that can be a fairly broad mandate, it is also one that allows the school to bring in ideas, research and welcome different perspectives to feed into the pedagogy, student and faculty interests.

The centre started with small programmes to build the research culture including developing a network of sharing knowledge not only within the school but a broader circle in the justice sector and researchers beyond.

“For those from outside, to find specific information it’s a challenge sometimes because people write something and it disappears into a journal that goes on a shelf,” she said, adding that the school is working to make such information available through its network.

JSW Law, the first and only law school in the country, was founded in 2015, by the promulgation of a Royal Charter by His Majesty The King. According to its charter, JSW Law is charged with providing legal education, facilitating research in law and related fields, and promoting cultural enrichment and traditional values.

The half day event was divided in two sessions: panellists of the first session shared about their current research projects and challenges for research at JSW Law and in the country. Kyoto University panellists, in the second session made presentations on their areas of expertise including research in medical field, law, and sciences.

“This symposium will provide a forum for both JSW Law and Kyoto University faculty to share and discuss their research projects and passions,” officials from the school said.

The President of JSW Law, HRH Princess Sonam Dechan Wangchuck, Chief Justice Tshering Wangchuk and senior government Bhutan National Legal Institute, Royal University of Bhutan and Khesar Gyalpo University of Medical Sciences attended the opening of the symposium.

The 17th Kyoto University delegation is led by the university’s president (Dr) Juichi Yamagiwa, and includes (Dr) Tetsuro Matsuzawa, Professor of Institute for Advanced Study and other members from the Administration, Law and Medical Colleges.

The relation between Bhutan and Kyoto University began much before the establishment of formal diplomatic ties between the two countries. In 1957 Her Majesty the Royal Grand Mother Ashi Kesang Choeden Wangchuck visited the university on the invitation of its professors.

The university instituted a friendship programme after the visit of its delegation, including Dr Tetsuro Matsuzawa, to Bhutan in 2010 with the intention of sharing knowledge in the fields of health, culture, safety and ecosystem through future contributions.

To deepen relationship between the two countries and explore new areas of collaboration and cooperation, HRH Princess Sonam Dechan Wangchuck visited Kyoto University in 2017, JSW Law dean of academic affairs Sangay Dorjee said.

“Our intention is to renew the memories of the past six decades,” Dr Tetsuro Matsuzawa.

Tshering Palden