Qualia Structure Summer School

Qualia Structure Summer School

The Qualia Structure Summer School offers an exciting opportunity for students to junior faculty scholars from around the world to explore the intersection of subjective conscious experience and scientific objectivity. This event is scheduled to take place in the Kansai area (Kyoto, Osaka, and Kobe), Japan, from June 17 to June 28, 2024, and is supported by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, Grant-in-Aid for Transformative Research Areas A: Qualia Structure. The Qualia Structure project seeks to establish a super interdisciplinary research program, making this summer school an exceptional opportunity for intellectual pursuit and philosophical inquiry.



Vision and Mission

The primary focus of the Qualia Structure Summer School is to promote a super interdisciplinary research program that bridges the gap between consciousness and scientific objectivity. This unique summer school leverages mathematics, physics, psychology, philosophy, cognitive science, neuroscience, robotics, artificial intelligence, information theory, linguistics, and more to develop novel approaches to understanding the minds of others. The school advocates for structural approaches to qualia and aspires to lead the next generation of international consciousness research.

Key Objectives

  • Create lasting networks through face-to-face interactions among participants.
  • Foster long-lasting collaborations to address the problem of consciousness.
  • Producing outputs in formats shareable with the world, such as pre-registration of new experiments, blogs for new ideas, and YouTube videos for lectures and journals clubs.

To achieve the above goals, we invite keynote lectures from experts with diverse backgrounds in consciousness research. We aim to attract students who aspire to contribute to the understanding of consciousness. To facilitate participation, we will try to cover travel and accommodation expenses as much as possible (the exact amount to be determined) during the summer school (details below). We are planning to organize the Summer School annually until 2028, in different cities within Japan.

Dates (2024)

 (In this symposium, participants are encouraged to present the Public presentations of outcomes of the summer school)

  (Please note that these dates precede the ASSC Tokyo conference scheduled for July 2-5)


Week 1 (June 17-21) 

June 17 (Mon)

9:00-10:15 Tsuchiya: Opening remark (Overview of the Qualia Structure paradigm and brief introduction to category theory (Yoneda lemma, adjunction, enriched category) & online psychophysics)

10:45-12:00: Oizumi: Computational approaches to qualia structures: Optimal transport methods

12:00-13:00: Lunch

13:00-15:00: Group discussions

15:00-16:00: Presentation of discussed ideas by each participant group

16:30-17:30: Follow-up lecture by the morning lecturer

18:00-19:30: Opening reception  

June 18 (Tue)

9:00-10:15 Robert Prentner - Category Theory, Integrated Information Theory, Husserl phenomenology

10:45-12:00 Yuko Ishihara - Kyoto-school phenomenology, playing with reality  

12:00-13:00: Lunch time discussion (buffet)

13:00-15:00: Group discussions

15:00-16:00: Presentation of discussed ideas by each participant group

16:30-17:30: Follow-up lecture by the morning lecturers 

June 19 (Wed) 

9:00-10:15 Donna Dietz - (computational) sheaf category theory & topology for consciousness research (I)

10:45-12:00 Michael Robinson -  (computational) sheaf category theory & topology for consciousness research (II) 

(Same program after 12:00)

June 20 (Thu) 

9:00-10:15 Giulio Tononi - Integrated Information Theory 4.0 (I) 

10:45-12:00 Giulio Tononi - Integrated Information Theory 4.0 (II) 

Taking group photos

(Same program after 12:00)

June 21 (Fri) 

9:00-10:15 Chiara Cirelli - consciousness in the brain disconnected from environment

10:45-12:00 Chiara Cirelli - neural mechanisms & recordings in sleep and anesthesia 

(Same program after 12:00)

Week 1 Lecturers(Brief Bios)

June 22 (Sat) & June 23 (Sun): Break. Travel to Awaji Island

Week 2 (June 24-28)

 Awaji Yumebutai Hotel

 Tea room (reserved for discussion!)

June 24 (Mon)

  • 9:00 onwards: Presentation of initial ideas (forming interdisciplinary groups, ideally with two or three persons per group)
  • Consultation of ideas by each group with the Principal Investigators 
  • Working lunch, discussions, and productive activities
  • 17:00:- Opening reception

June 25 (Tue) & June 27 (Thu)

  • 9:00: Voluntary basis - Consultation of ideas by each group with the Principal Investigators
  • 16:00: Voluntary basis - Reflection and exchange of ideas with other groups

June 26 (Wed) & June 28 (Fri)

  • Similar schedule as June 24 (Mon) (no reception on 26th) 

Participant Selection Criteria

We selected 26 participants from around the world, primarily targeting graduate students and postdoctoral fellows. However, we will reserve a few spots for undergraduate students and junior faculty members. Our aim is to ensure diversity in terms of academic background, career stage, gender, country of origin, and current location.

Each participant will be evaluated based on the following criteria:

  • A) Statement of purpose (Max. 300 words): What questions and ideas do you want to pursue as an outcome of this summer school? (Please try to make it not too big. Something realistic)
  • B) Self-appeal 3-minute video in a free format: You can showcase your skills, interests, prior interdisciplinary research experiences, and social media presence. Please provide a link to the video (preferably on YouTube) that is viewable by the committee.
  • C) CV (Max 2 pages) and a list of key publications (Max 1 page).
  • D) Commitment to the summer school: Availability for the entire duration and willingness to participate in the pre-school Zoom-based journal clubs (at least 2-3 times).
  • E) Reference information from 3 individuals (Letters of recommendation not required). Once you are selected as a candidate participant, we will contact your referees to verify your statement and evaluate your social skills, which are essential for participation in the summer school.

We also welcome information about any expert skills you may possess that could be used to serve as a tutor for the school (e.g., programming and computational skills in Python, online psychophysics). Even if you are not selected as a participant, you may still be considered for a tutor position.

We inquire about your plans to attend the ASSC conference as we will not be able to cover your return flight to your home country. Please note that this will not influence our selection process.


  • Application Form (Google Form): Application Form Link
  • Deadline: November 15, 2023
  • Notification of Selection Results: We aim to announce outcomes on an individual basis as soon as possible for visa processing. If you do not receive notification by February 15, it means that you were not selected in this round.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

FAQ about the application form will be updated soon.

Update 2023 Nov 4.  

Q1. Is airfare covered?

We are trying to cover all airfare. However, we cannot be definitive at this stage. We may cover the same fixed amount for all participants or cover the expense for an individual return flight. We will update the information as we decide. (For reimbursement purposes, we need a ticket stub) 

Q2. Is accommodation covered?

Yes, but up to 10,000 JPY per day. This may mean that all participants (especially on Awaji island will stay in the double-bed room). We will also update the information soon. 

Q3. How much funding is provided for selected candidates?

Above and beyond the airfare and accommodation, travel within Japan (from Osaka to Awaji island) and meals for morning and lunch will be covered. Unfortunately, we will not reimburse for the daily allowances 

Q4. Are there any concrete examples of “outputs” from previous summer schools on consciousness? 

Yes. Please see our updated website. 

Sample outputs from previous other summer schools

Q5. What are the relative importance of 5 application criteria? 

We will first evaluate each application based on the following weighting. 

A) Statement of purpose (Max. 300 words): (40%)

B) Self-appeal 3-minute video in a free format: (40%) 

C) CV (Max 2 pages) and a list of key publications (Max 1 page). (20%: Relative to Opportunity) 

D) Commitment to the summer school (Required) 

E) Reference information from 3 individuals (After selection) 

However, our summer school committee will make the final decision ensuring diversity in terms of academic background, career stage, gender, country of origin, and current location.

Only relevant for participants 

Q6. When something unexpected happens (e.g., sickness, unforeseen troubles in the family…), can we change the flight? 

1) After you arrange the flight schedule with a company (the Tobu Travel), you need to notify ATR of the need to change the flight schedule and state the reason 

2) Depending on the reasons, it's plausible that your change of flight may or may not be approved by the government.  In the case it is not approved, ATR will ask you to refund the fee for travel.  This is a case-by-case consultation, so we can't provide further info at this stage. 

(Update 23 Dec 16) 

Where to stay

Member Information of Participants

Please see below.