On 26-27 October 2023 the Jagiellonian University celebrated the 30th anniversary of joining the SYLFF network. SYLFF - the Ryoichi Sasakawa Young Leaders Fellowship Fund – is a fellowship program aimed to support students pursuing graduate studies in the humanities and social sciences, run jointly by two Japanese institutions - the Nippon Foundation and the Tokyo Foundation for Policy Research.
The Jubilee celebrations began on 26 October in the historic Assembly Hall of JU Collegium Maius. The opening addresses were delivered by the JU Vice-Rector for Educational Affairs Prof. Armen Edigarian, the Chairman of the Nippon Foundation Yōhei Sasakawa, and the Dean of the Faculty of International and Political Studies Prof. Paweł Laidler, who is the Chairman of the JU SYLFF Steering Committee.
‘For the decades the SYLFF programme has been a fundamental pillar of our partnership, providing support to our students and its significance cannot be overstated. Today we are not just celebrating an anniversary. We are celebrating the knowledge that has been created and the influence that has been made on the society’, stressed the JU Vice-Rector Prof. Edigarian, expressing his heartfelt gratitude to the Nippon Foundation and the Tokyo Foundation for Policy Research, as well as all JU staff responsible for the University’s participation in the programme.
‘It is our pride and joy that we have been able to build our wonderful friendship with the Jagiellonian University. I sincerely hope that the SYLFF at the Jagiellonian University will continue to play a pivotal role in further expanding the friendship between our two nations’, said the Nippon Foundation Chairman Yōhei Sasakawa, thanking all the people present that had contributed to the development of SYLFF programme at the oldest Polish university.
The Dean of JU Faculty of International and Political Studies Prof. Paweł Laidler referred to his own experience as a SYLFF fellow in 2001. Discussing various aspects of the functioning of the programme, he pointed, among other issues, to its important contribution to strengthening the quality of research at the JU and the programme’s underlying values. ‘Today’s anniversary gathers passionate and optimistic people, who regardless of their age are young at heart, full of energy to conduct projects, educate and support those who are in need’, said Prof. Laidler, expressing special gratitude to the Nippon Foundation Chairman Yōhei Sasakawa.
Subsequent presentations pertaining to various aspects of SYLFF activity were delivered by the Executive Director of Tokyo Foundation for Policy Research Mari Suzuki and James Huffman from the Nippon Foundation. The official part of the meeting concluded with the discussion of SYLFF fellows, who shared their thoughts and reflections about the project, moderated by Prof. Paweł Laidler.
On the second day of anniversary celebrations a seminar featuring members of SYLFF community was held under the title 20th months of the War in Ukraine – remarks from the SYLFF community. It included keynote speeches devoted to the impact of sanctions on Russia as well as the support provided by the Nippon Foundation to refugees from Ukraine. The participants also discussed international and social implications of the war in Ukraine, including geopolitical forecasts related to this conflict.
The Ryoichi Sasakawa Young Leaders Fellowship Fund (SYLFF) was established in 1987. So far 69 universities, including the Jagiellonian University, and consortia in 44 countries (a total of 88 institutions of higher education around the world) have received an endowment of one million dollars from the Nippon Foundation.
The SYLFF institutions use the interest generated from their endowments to offer fellowships to promising graduate students in social sciences, humanities and performing arts, so that they can pursue studies at their home institutions or abroad (SYLFF at the Jagiellonian University offers fellowships for studies abroad only).
The SYLFF programme is a joint initiative of the Nippon Foundation, the endowment donor, and the Tokyo Foundation for Policy Research – the programme administrator. More information about SYLFF at the Jagiellonian University can be found on its official website.