"President's MOOC 'Evolution of the Human Sociality' Live!"

Wed. Dec 09 2015 Yamauchi Hall, Shirankaikan, Kyoto University

A spin-off event from the MOOC "Evolution of the Human Sociality" offered by President Juichi Yamagiwa, which was entitled "President's MOOC 'Evolution of the Human Sociality' Live!" and in which learners also participated, was held in Yamauchi Hall of Shiran Kaikan at Kyoto University on December 9, 2015.

Background of This Event


A scene from the trailor of "000x Evolution of the Human Sociality"

Kyoto University published a six-week MOOC offered by President Juichi Yamagiwa from October 29, 2016. This MOOC covers the historical development of primatology at Kyoto University - the cradle of the field in Japan - and discusses details of research that President Yamagiwa conducted on gorillas in the field in Africa, while also delving into the origins of human sociality.
Although there are already more than 6,000 courses currently available on major worldwide MOOC platforms, such as edX and Coursera, "Evolution of the Human Sociality" wasl be the first MOOC taught by a sitting president of a major research university as part of the institution's official online curriculum at the time.

Related Link:
Kyoto University Official Website's article: "President Yamagiwa's MOOC to begin on edX in October 2015 (8 July 2015)"
edX blog's article: "Why the President of Kyoto University Decided To Teach an edX MOOC"

In the competition, the applicants submitted essays based on the President's lecture series. The essays were assessed from various aspects, including the uniqueness and creativity of their approach and the originality of their ideas. As a result of the two-stage selection process by the committee, four students were chosen to advance to the final stage on 9 December 2015 at Shiran Kaikan. They made their realtime video-presentations in an online event entitled "President's MOOC 'Evolution of the Human Sociality' Live!". Two students with the most excellent achievements were selected as final winners and later they stayed in Japan, while they met President Yamagiwa, teaching staff, and other students studying primatology.

Related Link:
edX blog "Win a Primatology Research Trip to Kyoto University!"

Overview of the Event

【1. Opening of the Event】


President Juichi Yamagiwa

In the opening of this event, President Yamagiwa gave his opening address, in which he expressed his appreciation for participants' in his MOOC and his expectation for active discussions in this competition.

Next, the video of the congratulatoly address from Dr Anant Agarwal, the CEO of edX was played. In the video, Dr. Agarwal congratulated the success of the President's MOOC and expressed his hope of continuous collaborations with the faculty, staff, and students at Kyoto University to further advance innovation in higher education through KyotoUx.

【2. Competition】


Selection committee members: (from left) President Juichi Yamagiwa, Professor Naoko Tosa, Ms. Kathy Pugh, Professor Toru Iiyoshi, Professor Satoshi Hirata

In the video presentation, fainalists presented their research proposals on the question from Homework 1 "Explain one of the features that are only unique to humans in comparison to other primates by showing detailed examples and explaining why you think it evolved in the human history?"Their presentations were judged by following selection committee members: President Juichi Yamagiwa, Professor Naoko Tosa of the Center for the Promotion for Excellence in Higher Education, Vice President of Education Services at edX Kathy Pugh, Assistant to the Executive Vice-President and Director of the Center for the Promotion of Excellence in Higher Education Toru Iiyoshi, Professor Satoshi Hirata of the Wild Life Research Center.

After Strict judge, two winners were selected, Ms Rachel Ahn, a high school student from South Korea, and Mr Gaspard van Hamme, a field guide from South Africa.



Ms Ahn's proposal pointed out that the history of clothing (to wear clothes and cover their bodies) is only seen in the human species and also made assumptions with four possible reasoning; protection, attention, identification, and modesty.
Mr. van Hamme made a good argument about humans blushing behavior as a way of communication, which may have derived from the sociality of feeling embarrassed.

This event also has a presentation on the research proposal by Mr. Ryoma Otsuka, a student of the Faculty of Agriculture at Kyoto University, and presentation by two young primatologists (Mr. Shun Hongo and Tomoyuki Tajima) as answers to questions asked in the President's MOOC.

All Expenses Paid Trip to Kyoto University for Winners

The two winners of the competition stayed in Japan from 27 January through 2 February 2016, while they met President Yamagiwa, teaching staff, and other students studying primatology. During their stay, they also made poster presentations based on the essays they had submitted at the Primates Conference at the Japan Monkey Center.


(from left) Mr. Shun Hongo, Mr. Gaspard van Hamme, President Juichi Yamagiwa, Ms. Rachel Ahn, Mr. Tomoyuki Tajima

Ms Rachel Ahn said, "Though I had little knowledge of primatology before taking this course, now I aspire to study further on the social structure of primates after listening to the lectures by President Yamagiwa and visiting Kyoto University."

Related Link:
edX blog's article: "Rachel Ahn: My Trip to Kyoto University"

Mr Gaspard van Hamme said, "When I visited the Primate Research Institute, I experienced cutting-edge research experiments first-hand, which I had seen on TV. That was far more than I had expected. If Kyoto University delivers another lecture course related to primatology, I will definitely take it."


13:00 Opening
- Opening Address Juichi Yamagiwa (President, Kyoto University)
- Congraturatoly Address Dr. Anant Agarwal(CEO of edX)

13:10-14:30 Competition
- Explanation
- Introduction of Selection Committee Members
- Presentations by four finalists (learners)
- Presentation by a student at Kyoto University
- General Comment
- Commendation

Related Links

For more information on MOOC from Kyoto University (KyotoUx), visit here.

- Movie of the President's MOOC event (archived: registration required to watch the movie)

Kyoto University Official Website's articles
- "President Yamagiwa's MOOC to begin on edX in October 2015 (8 July 2015)"
- "President Yamagiwa invites two overseas winners of the MOOC presentation competition to Kyoto University (27 January-2 February 2016)"

edX blog's articles
- "Why the President of Kyoto University Decided To Teach an edX MOOC"
- "Win a Primatology Research Trip to Kyoto University!"
- "Kyoto University Invites Student Winners to Japan"