Takagi School for Alternative Scientists
On December 5, 1998 the Takagi School for Alternative Scientists started a series of lectures for the general public. On the day the first lecture took place, about 250 enthusiastic people filled the room completely. The School was established with prize money from the Right Livelihood Award received by former CNIC representative Jinzaburo Takagi in 1997. Its purpose is to study the environment, nuclear issues, human rights, and other problems of modern society from the perspective of citizens, and to create ways that scientists and prospective scientists, with their specialized expertise and capabilities, can link up with citizen movements. This series of lectures is named Course B, the aim of which is to create a dialog between citizens and scientists and science students under the theme "chemical substances and daily life." Course B is to provide a venue that facilitates dialog as specialists deliver plain-language talks on issues of modern science.
Dr. Takagi earned enthusiastic applause when he kicked off the series by saying, "I want to bridge the gulf between specialists and citizens so as to make it possible for citizens to take the initiative in posing questions about the issues that our society faces. Each of the domains of politics, economics, and science finds itself pressed to undergo major changes. Though heretofore shut out from the world of science, citizen participation and a general-public perspective must be the basis of our approach. I hope to win my personal battle with cancer with the Takagi School which serves as a light that gives me hope for living."
"Plutonium" was the theme of the first lecture, during which members of Course A (which aims to produce alternative scientists) enthusiastically discussed the basics of plutonium in a question-and-answer format.
After this Dr. Takagi spoke for about an hour on the topic of "Plutonium and the Citizen." In his talks he remarked that, "The plutonium issue symbolizes the problems of modern science and technology." He continued saying that "I've been involved with plutonium in one way or another for 37 years, and have believed that I must learn all there is to know about this unknown area. We have indeed increased what we know about plutonium, but at the same time we have found there is an even larger dark, unknown area about which we have no knowledge. We must produce scientists who are aware that they are not omniscient and can share concern with citizens"
The second theme is "Endocrine Disruptors and the Management of Chemical Substances," which will be followed by the themes of "Dioxins and Chlorine Compounds in Everyday Life," "Ozone Layer Depletion and Policy Challenges," and "Alzheimer's Disease and Aluminum," with the sixth and final meeting devoted to a wrap-up and general discussion.
As the Takagi School aspires to encourage a strong move towards "citizen science," Course B is vital because it forges a close link between citizens and scientists and prospective scientists who now belong to Course A. (alternative scientists course). The School has other activities as well. In conjunction with the 20th anniversary of the Three Mile Island nuclear accident this March, a field survey is in progress that will serve as the basis of a project to investigate the accident and its aftermath. The Project will be followed by a public symposium and then a final report will be published.
by Mikiko Watanabe