As part of our ongoing collaboration with Harvard University, periodic lectures are being held at KUAS’ campuses as we are pleased to welcome faculty from one of the most respected academic institutions in the world to Kyoto. Recently, we were happy to host Karen Thornier, a distinguished scholar in the field of comparative linguistics and the chair of the Harvard University Asia Center. As a lecture that was open to the public, not only staff and students of KUAS but also members of the general public were part of the more than 90 people that attended.
Professor Thornber’s lecture centered on end-of-life-care, an issue that has grown in significance recently with the demographic issues in many countries. Her unique research featured a comparative literary analysis of fiction and non-fiction works in the United Kingdom, the United States of America and Japan. Through her analysis, she described perspectives on end-of-life-care from each of the countries, focusing on important themes such as the concept of a “dignified death”, family support, the roles and responsibilities of medical care professionals among others. Elegantly quoting and contrasting significant literary works from three separate countries throughout, she ended her lecture with a section from Atul Gawande’s landmark book on the subject “Being Mortal”: “We’ve been wrong about what our job is in medicine. We think our job is to ensure health and survival. But really it is larger than that. It is to enable well-being.”
Enabling cross-cultural, comparative research and perspectives to be heard is a value that the Kyoto University of Advanced Science proudly espouses, and we are looking forward to welcoming more distinguished faculty from Harvard University to our campus as part of our partnership.