Research Institute for Humanity and Nature Research Projects
2020 Call for Proposals for Incubation Studies and Feasibility Studies

Ⅰ. The Purpose of RIHN

The Research Institute for Humanity and Nature (RIHN) is an inter-university research institute founded in 2001 for the purpose of conducting multidisciplinary research aimed at generating fields of academic inquiry for solving environmental issues.

The mission of RIHN is to bring together research efforts from multiple fields to shed light on the fundamental nature of environmental issues and present comprehensive ideas on the relationship of humans and nature. Since our founding, we have taken the view that problems of human cultures lie at the root of environmental issues. Accordingly, we have always promoted solution-oriented research through a diverse range of research projects characterized as interdisciplinary projects which span the natural sciences and humanities and as transdisciplinary projects* which involve direct collaboration with social stakeholders.

*Transdisciplinary research: In transdisciplinary research projects, researchers collaborate with various social stakeholders with the aim of generating new knowledge. These projects involve a number of processes, including identifying the stakeholders, planning the collaboration, organizing the collaborative research, communicating the study’s findings, and applying these findings in society.

Ⅱ. Research Projects within RIHN’s Program-Project Management System

In fiscal 2016, we introduced a new system of program and project organization under which we comprehensively manage and integrate projects that have been developed in a bottom-up manner in order to facilitate the generation of robust comprehensive knowledge. Our programs now consist of Research Programs and the Core Program.

There are three research programs, each administered by a separate program director. Each research program covers multiple research projects.

Under the leadership of each program director, the research projects conduct research in line with the priorities of the relevant research program. Research Project Leaders are employed by RIHN and form research teams inside RIHN while collaborating with universities, research institutes, companies, and regional public organizations. In doing so, they leverage the various resources available within RIHN. In this way, the projects can make use of all the resources at RIHN. In the end, it is expected that this scholarly research, in collaboration with social stakeholders, is aimed at solving global environmental issues and produces options for social transformations to reshape public attitudes and values or usher in new social models.

Ⅲ. Project Trajectory

The project trajectory for research projects aims to fine-tune research proposals by having projects pass through internal reviews at RIHN as well as an external review. The trajectory of a project includes three stages: the Incubation Study stage, the Feasibility Study stage, and the Full Research stage. Before entering the Full Research stage, projects may go through a preparatory Pre-Research phase.

As described in “IV Content of the Call for Research Proposal/2. Possible Feasibility Studies” below, proposals with the potential to contribute to a research program swiftly may skip the Incubation Study stage and move directly to the Feasibility Study stage.

RIHN Project Trajectory : Research Project

RIHN Project Trajectory : Research Project
Incubation Studies

Incubation Studies are joint research projects that aim to discover new avenues of inquiry for comprehensive research aiming to solve global environmental issues. Incubation Studies are meant to lead to Feasibility Studies. RIHN will provide a maximum annual budget of ¥1 million during this stage.

After one year, an Incubation Study may advance to the Feasibility Study stage after internal review by RIHN.(See “Ⅴ Submitting Documents/3. Schedule Following Application” and “Ⅶ After the Project is Approved” below.)

Selected projects may also submit themselves to internal review by RIHN after six months to be fast-tracked for advancement to the Feasibility Study stage. In this case, RIHN will provide a maximum budget of ¥500,000.

Feasibility Studies

Feasibility Studies are joint research projects that aim to verify the potential of a project as a fully implemented Full Research project. Feasibility Studies are meant to lead to Full Research projects. RIHN will provide a maximum annual grant of ¥4 million during this stage.

When a project is approved as a Feasibility Study, the project representative must become a Visiting Professor or Visiting Associate Professor of RIHN.

For example, a Feasibility Study that commences in April 2020 and passes an internal review by RIHN (usually held in late November) and an external review by the Japanese and overseas members of the External Research-Evaluation Committee (usually held in February) will then be authorized by RIHN’s Board of Advisors and advance to the Full Research stage in April 2021 at the earliest. (See “Ⅴ Content of the Research Proposal/3. Schedule Following Application” and “Ⅶ After the Project is Approved” below.)

Pre-Research

After a project is recommended for Full Research status by the external review, it may go through a one-year preparatory phase. RIHN will provide a maximum annual budget of ¥16 million during this stage (reduced by the appropriate monthly amount if the preparatory phase is less than one year). Project leaders can use this preparatory phase to assemble their team and make other preparations necessary to ensure that research can commence smoothly as soon as the project enters the Full Research stage.

A project cannot enter the Pre-Research phase until the project leader has become employed by RIHN and (if necessary and appropriate) joint-appointment arrangements have been made so that the project leader is a full-time researcher at RIHN.

Full Research

Depending on its research plan, a project can spend a maximum of five years in the Full Research stage. RIHN will provide a maximum annual budget of ¥50 million during this stage. Note that ¥50 million is the upper limit for annual budgets. Depending on the characteristics of the research fields involved, project proposals may also aim for annual budgets of, for example, ¥25 million or ¥30 million. While it is possible to request slightly different amounts from year to year, so long as the amount does not exceed ¥50 million, the amount of all annual budgets should be approximately the same throughout the Full Research period.

Before applying, please check that your proposal aligns with one of the RIHN Research Programs. For more details on how RIHN categorizes and organizes Research Projects and on the requirements for Research Projects, please review the references in 8 below (particularly the information on “Expectations towards Research Projects”).

Please read the details about the available research stages below and apply to the stage that best fits the initial conditions, etc., of the research plan you wish to submit.

Ⅳ Content of the Call for Research Proposals

1. Incubation Studies

If you wish to submit a proposal for a project at the Incubation Study stage, please refer to the overview of research areas below and decide on a specific research topic. We welcome a wide range of proposals that meet the conditions outlined in “Expectations towards Research Projects” items1 to 8.

Feel free to direct any questions about the research areas or our system to RIHN’s deputy director-general in charge of research. (For administrative matters, please contact the staff listed in “Ⅷ Other Matters.”)

(Makoto Taniguchi, deputy director-general. Contact: E-mail).

Programs and
Research Themes
Overview of research areas
(Research Program 1)
Societal transformation under environmental change
The aim of this program is to facilitate a transformation toward a society that can flexibly respond to human-caused environmental changes (including global warming and atmospheric pollution) and natural disasters. To this end, the program focuses on presenting detailed options that incorporate long-term perspectives and that help shape public opinion. Key examples of research under this program include studies that focus on Asia’s long-term paths of development, studies in which the team works with stakeholders to explore the conditions necessary for securing and maintaining basic livelihoods, and high quality solution-oriented scholarly research.
(Research Program 2)
Fair use and management of diverse resources
The aim of this program is to help ensure that the resources we depend on for survival (including water, energy, food and other ecological resources) are used fairly, managed optimally, and governed wisely. To this end, the program focuses on providing multifaceted options (that take tradeoffs into account) to the stakeholders who produce, distribute, or consume these resources. Key examples of research under this program include studies that present socioeconomic mechanisms for using resources fairly (which may involve private enterprises) or criteria for evaluating resource use, studies that explore the interfaces between different resources, and scholarly research that presents multiscale models for fair resource use.
(Research Program 3)
Designing lifeworlds of sustainability and wellbeing
The aim of this program is to reshape popular notions of the lifeworld and to elucidate the interfaces between different lifeworlds (such as those between urban and rural spaces). The program also seeks to work with stakeholders to solve problems, outline a vision for a sustainable lifeworld, and examine the feasibility of such a vision. Key examples of research under this program include studies that present future models of lifeworlds that sustainably provide for our basic needs (food, clothing, housing) and studies that elucidate the interplay between different lifeworlds. The program also welcomes scholarly research focused on designing social models (“future design”) that will transform the behavior, attitudes, and decisions of today’s generation.

2.Possible Feasibility Studies

If you wish to submit a proposal starting from the Feasibility Study stage, please refer to the overview of research areas below and decide on a specific research topic. We welcome proposals that meet the conditions outlined in “Expectations towards Research” items 1 to 9 and that have the potential to contribute to a research program swiftly.

Feel free to direct any questions about the research areas contained in each program and similar matters to the program directors listed under “Ⅱ Research Projects within RIHN’s Program and Project Management System.” (For administrative matters, please contact the staff listed in “Ⅷ Other Matters”.)

Programs and
Research Themes
Overview of research areas
(Research Program 1)
Societal transformation under environmental change
Program 1 aims to foster three kinds of studies: studies that focus on Asia’s long-term paths of development, studies in which the team works with stakeholders to explore the conditions necessary for securing and maintaining basic livelihoods, and high quality solution-oriented scholarly research. We are looking for projects that fall under at least one of these three categories and that can play a central role in strengthening and expanding the program.
(Research Program 2)
Fair use and management of diverse resources
In line with the aims of Program 2, we are looking for projects that focus on enabling fair use of diverse resources that takes tradeoffs and synergy between diverse stakeholders into account.
(Research Program 3)
Designing lifeworlds of sustainability and wellbeing
The aim of this program is to reshape popular notions of the lifeworld and to elucidate the interfaces between different lifeworlds (such as those between urban and rural spaces). The program also seeks to work with stakeholders to solve problems, outline a vision for a sustainable lifeworld, and examine the feasibility of such a vision. We especially welcome scholarly research focused on designing social models (“future design”) that will transform the behavior, attitudes, and decisions of today’s generation.

3.Types of Projects

From the Feasibility Study stage on, projects are divided into two types: Independently Organized and Institutional Collaboration. If you wish to propose a project for the Feasibility Study stage, you need to choose the appropriate type. (Applicants for the Incubation Study stage do not need to choose a project type.)

Independently Organized Type

In projects of this type, an individual researcher organizes a research project at RIHN and conducts joint research there. If the project advances to the Full Research stage, the researcher must become a full-time researcher at RIHN and serve as project leader. A project leader must be a professor or associate professor. RIHN will consult extensively with the project representative’s institution of affiliation about employment and related personnel matters.

For Independently Organized Type projects, the joint-appointment system cannot be used. Note that this is different for Institutional Collaboration Type projects.

Institutional Collaboration Type

In projects of this type, a researcher from a university or research institute (or department thereof) partnered with RIHN organizes a research project at RIHN and conducts joint research there. The researcher’s organization need not have concluded a partnership agreement with RIHN at the time of application. After a project is selected, RIHN will begin negotiations with the organization in question. The necessary procedures will be finalized by the time the project enters the Pre-Research or Full Research stage, after which the project will be officially launched.

When a project advances to the Full Research stage, the project leader should be seconded or dispatched to RIHN from the institution of affiliation. Alternatively, the project leader can become a full-time researcher at RIHN. A project leader must be a professor or associate professor. RIHN will consult extensively with the project representative’s institution of affiliation about employment and related personnel matters.

If the project leader plans to use the joint-appointment system, RIHN and the institution of affiliation will enter into discussions to establish the percentage of time the project leader will devote to research at RIHN.

To encourage project leaders to make research at RIHN their primary focus to the maximum extent possible, RIHN requires those who use the joint-appointment system to devote at least 70% of their work time to research at RIHN (including participation in meetings at RIHN). This will be stipulated in the partnership agreement or memorandum of understanding between RIHN and the institution of affiliation.

4.Eligibility

Applicants must:

  1. 1) be a professor, associate professor, lecturer, or assistant lecturer at a national, public, or private university or similar institution; or
  2. 2) be recognized by the Director-General as having at least the same level of competence as such.

5.Research Period

Incubation Studies

 April 2020 to end of March 2021
  (If a project reaches the Feasibility Study stage in October 2020, the Incubation Study stage will end at that point.)

Feasibility Studies

 April 2020 to end of March 2021

6.Expenses

RIHN will cover the cost of travel and expendable items within the scope of the project’s budget. Please prepare a plan with a budget of ¥300,000 to ¥1 million for the Incubation Study and a budget of maximum ¥4 million for the Feasibility Study. Please note that we do not subsidize fixtures and fittings with a purchase price of ¥100,000 or more during the Incubation Study and the Feasibility Study periods.

7.References

For more information on creating a proposal, consult the following guidelines and “RIHN’s Mission” and other content on the RIHN website.

  1. ・RIHN’s Mission : WEB SITE
  2. ・RIHN Philosophy and Approach:WEB SITE
  3. ・Expectations towards Research Projects:PDF
  4. (Incubation Studies will be screened based on items 1–8, particularly items 1–3. Feasibility Studies will be screened based on items 1–9.)

  5. ・Research Program mission statements and trajectory to the Full Research stage:WEB SITE
  6. ・Posted on RIHN’s website in English under “RIHN Programs”:WEB SITE

Ⅴ Submitting Documents

1.Documents to Submit 

Incubation Studies
  1. ・Form 1–1: Application Form for 2020 Incubation Study(IS)( WORDPDF
  2. ・Form 1–2: Incubation Study Proposal(WORDPDF
  3. ・Curriculum Vitae of Applicant(WORDPDF
Feasibility Studies
  1. ・Form 1–7: Application Form for 2020 Feasibility Study(FS)(WORDPDF
  2. ・Form 1–8: Research Project Feasibility Study Proposal(WORDPDF
  3. ・Curriculum Vitae of Applicant(WORDPDF

2.Deadline

Documents must arrive no later than 10:00 a.m., Wednesday, February 12, 2020 (JST)

(Please email the documents as attached PDF files. The PDF of Form 1-1 or Form 1–7 should be a scanned copy of a printed form bearing the necessary seal (signature). In the subject line, please write “Re. 2020 Call for Proposals for Incubation Studies (or Feasibility Studies)” followed by your name and the name of your institution. Please send us Form 1-1 by postal mail, or deliver it to us by hand, by Thursday, February 28, 2020. You will receive a confirmation email after you email the documents. Please contact us if this confirmation email does not reach you by 13:00, Friday, February 14.)

3.Schedule Following Application (subject to change)

Incubation Studies
  1. ・Document screening
  2. Tuesday, February 18, 2020

  3. ・Research proposal presentation (of proposals that passed document screening)
      (@RIHN)
  4. Thursday, February 27, 2020
    (Possible second day*) Friday, February 28, 2020

  5. ・Research project commences
  6. Wednesday, April 1, 2020

  7. ・IS report, FS application presentation (September)(@RIHN)
  8. September 2020

    *If the project was approved for the Feasibility Study stage in October, reducing the Incubation Study stage to six months

  9. Presentation at RIHN General Meeting (@Kyoto city)
  10. Wednesday, November 25, 2020 to Friday,
    November 27, 2020

    *If the project has advanced to the Feasibility Study stage, it must be presented as a Feasibility Study.

  11. ・IS report, FS application presentation (@RIHN)
  12. Thursday, February 25, 2021
    (Possible second day*)Friday, February 26, 2021

Feasibility Studies
  1. ・Document screening
  2. Tuesday, February 18, 2020

  3. ・Research proposal presentation (of proposals that passed document screening)
      (@RIHN)
  4. Thursday, February 27, 2020
    (Possible second day*) Friday, February 28, 2020

  5. ・Research project commences
  6. Wednesday, April 1, 2020

  7. ・Presentation at RIHN General Meeting (@Kyoto city)
  8. Wednesday, November 25, 2020
     to Friday, November 27, 2020

  9. ・External Research-Evaluation Committee hearing(@RIHN)
  10. February 2021

*The possible second day is planned just in case, due to a large number of applicants, the presentations cannot be finished in one day. The second day is therefore not an option applicants can choose according to their schedules.

4.Where to submit

Email: E-mail

Sending by postal mail or delivering in person:
Research Planning Subsection, Planning and Collaboration Section, the Research Institute for Humanity and Nature, 457-4 Motoyama, Kamigamo, Kita-ku, Kyoto, 603-8047

Ⅵ Review Process

Research proposals will be reviewed by RIHN’s Project Review Committee. The committee will review the documents you submitted in your application, including your budget plan. If your application passes this step, you will be invited to present your proposal at a public seminar at RIHN for comprehensive review.

Ⅶ After the Project is Approved

  1. After a proposal for an Incubation Study is approved, the researchers who will participate in the project are invited to a workshop with the relevant RIHN program director and other RIHN researchers to improve their understanding of RIHN’s mission and the goals of the relevant research program, as well as exchange ideas about how the research project could advance to the Feasibility Study stage. This workshop will be hosted at RIHN. For a research project to advance to the Feasibility Study stage, its representative (the applicant) must report on the Incubation Study and present a research plan for a Feasibility Study at the “IS report, FS application presentation,” which will be held in late February to early March 2021 (October 2020 for projects that have been fast-tracked to advance to a Feasibility Study after six months). Please note that the Incubation Study report may be made public.
  2. After a project is approved to advance to the Feasibility Study stage, the project leader will present a Feasibility Study report and a plan to transition the project to the Full Research stage at the RIHN General Meeting in November 2020. If the project passes an internal review by RIHN’s Project Review Committee, it will advance to review by the External Research-Evaluation Committee in February 2021.

Ⅷ Other Matters

  1. When preparing the documents to submit, please be aware that certain sections must be completed in the language indicated. Where there is no such indication, you can use either English or Japanese.
  2. As noted in “Ⅵ Review Process,” RIHN’s project system calls for a research proposal presentation (hearing of proposals that passed document screening) that will be attended not only by reviewers but also by RIHN researchers and others. All application documents will be made available to these RIHN researchers. Please take care not to include research data that may not be disclosed.
  3. For the research proposal presentation (presentation of proposals that passed document screening), you may use either Japanese or English. RIHN does not subsidize any travel expenses for attending the research proposal presentation.
  4. RIHN General Meeting may be conducted in Japanese or English, but the External Research-Evaluation Committee uses English exclusively.
  5. As a general rule, you will give presentations at the respective presentation venue.
  6. Inquiries
      Planning and Collaboration Section (Research Planning Subsection) of the Administrative Office
      E-mail: E-mail
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