All academic disciplines lead to child education and care
This is a series of articles highlighting some of the research projects at the University of Tokyo registered under its Future Society Initiative (FSI), a framework that brings together ongoing research projects that contribute to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
FSI Project 008
Brain science research in the last two decades has shown that the type of education and care a person receives during early childhood is of paramount importance to lead a healthy and happy life. However, there was no research organization in Japan devoted to comprehensive research on early childhood care and the learning environment.
To address this lack, the Center for Early Childhood Development, Education, and Policy Research (CEDEP) was established in 2015. Led by Professor Kiyomi Akita, CEDEP asks what kind of early childhood education and care leads to a healthy and happy life. To shed light on this topic scientifically, in addition to the usual medical science and pedagogy, an interdisciplinary approach including information science, agriculture, life science, economics and sociology is essential.
For example, to investigate the influence of the physical environment on children, it is necessary to monitor data on temperature, humidity, brightness, noise, carbon dioxide concentration and other variables in nurseries. In such instances, various sensors jointly developed with the Graduate School of Information Science and Technology come into play. The Graduate School of Public Policy supports research on policy issues related to early childhood education, while the Graduate School of Economics supports in analyzing the economic effects of policy. A well-rounded approach is vital to the research on early childhood — all academic disciplines lead to child care.
A collaboration with Tokyo’s Shibuya ward, provisionally called the University of Tokyo-Shibuya Ko-lab (Child-lab) Day Care Center, is currently underway to bring a parenting perspective to urban planning. A research laboratory will also be built inside the nursery, which is scheduled to open in April 2020. If research carried out by the center reveals the best early childhood care and educational environment, we may discover the key to happier living.