Human beings have prospered by accumulating and using knowledge obtained through the examination of regional fragmentary findings within specialized domains, and the localization and uncovering of their basic structures. However, the very nature of the knowledge obtained in this manner ― advanced, complicated and fragmented ― has made collaborations difficult not only for researchers working in different fields, but also for those working in the same fields. Moreover, our activities today have come to the point where they threaten the environment of the earth itself, at a rate faster than ever predicted. As a result, at present we are facing a plethora of severe global problems never before experienced on such a scale, including environmental degradation, depletion of natural resources, poverty, starvation, confrontations and violent conflicts. In order to enhance our problem-solving capabilities, it is necessary to consider problems from multiple angles, and identify their basic structure. For our intellectual, economic, social and cultural benefit, we should adopt a methodology for combining knowledge generated in a decentralized, autonomous manner. That is to say, to overcome the limitations caused by the traditional way of matching issues with specific disciplines on a one-on-one basis, we must connect various academic fields and address problems based on a comprehensive and practical approach.
In addition, we must educate the younger generation to continually create new wisdom. This is the most important mission of a university, as the locus where, driven by the intellectual curiosity of individuals, natural laws and the meaning of human activity are pursued and the accumulated knowledge of science and culture are passed on to the next generation.
The Global COE (Centers of Excellence) Program is an initiative of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology started as the succeeding project of the 21st Century COE Program. The initiative targets doctoral programs in graduate schools with the objective of ensuring that Japanese universities are globally competitive through prioritized support for the formation of excellent world-class centers of education and research. Applications have been invited for the period of academic 2007 to 2009 in almost all fields of scholarship, including life sciences, medical sciences, mathematics, physics, chemistry, engineering, the humanities and interdisciplinary sciences. A total of 140 applications from 41 universities have been accepted and adopted as Global Centers of Excellence, 17 of which, or more than 10% of the total, have been established at the University of Tokyo. We also cooperate with four centers at other universities.
The University of Tokyo is home to about 4000 faculty members, 29000 students almost evenly divided between undergraduate and graduate schools, and more than 3000 support staff. Together, they harmoniously offer and pursue courses in essentially all academic disciplines at both undergraduate and graduate levels and carry out a variety of research across the full spectrum of academic activity. I hope you will be able to get a sense of a great part of the educational and research activities of the University of Tokyo through this website introducing these 17 centers. Also, I sincerely hope that by providing information about the activities of the university, this website will contribute in some way to developing links and mutual trust between society and the university. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any comments or questions.
Executive Vice President