Suspension of winter and spring 2021 programs
The University of Tokyo announces cancellation of all the study-abroad programs sponsored by Division for Global Campus Initiatives for the winter and spring of 2020/2021. These include the following:
・University-wide Student Exchange Program(USTEP)
for spring departure
・UC Berkeley/Davis Program
for spring departure
& Spring Study Abroad Programs (Univeristy of California San Diego, Otago, Indonesia, Zhejiang, INSA Lyon, Scoence Po etc.)
・Go Global Gateway Winter Program
The university has made this decision based on the continuing spread of the novel coronavirus throughout the world. As of the moment of the issuance of this message, the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs has designated all the nations and region where our exchange program partners and short-term program destinations are located as “Level 3” in its Infection Risk Level. (This means “do not travel” to these places.) The Ministry has also designated all areas outside Japan as “Level 2” in its Risk Level. (This means “do not travel unless absolutely necessary.”) The programs sponsored by Division for Global Campus Initiatives can only be held at Level 1 or lower in these indexes. Moreover, many nations and regions have set up strict entry restrictions by suspending visas and/or banning non-citizens from crossing their borders. Unfortunately, these restrictions are unlikely to be lifted any time soon.
This difficult decision follows the cancellation of the study-abroad programs in this past spring and summer. We know many of you were looking forward to study abroad opportunities and understand this is a very disappointing announcement.
The faculty and staff of the University of Tokyo are also deeply disappointed about having to make this decision. We would really love to see you go onto the world stage through the various programs we offer. However, any opportunities to participate in study abroad programs need to be premised on the promise of safety as well as a realistic possibility of pursuing one’s academic goals. Neither is possible at the moment, given the continuing uncertainty about the spread of the virus throughout the world. We are making this decision now to minimize its impact on your study plan.
The novel coronavirus makes us deeply cognizant of the meaning of the concept of borders and boundaries. The virus does not know or understand these lines and easily spread around the world. Meanwhile, in order to protect ourselves from the virus, we have been setting up boundaries around us so that we may reduce our contacts with others. It has become, for example, very difficult to leave and enter Japan. We have been discouraged from traveling across prefectural boundaries. Something as normal as going to campus and studying together with your classmates was made impossible in the previous semester. In other words, while the virus spreads across all types of borders and boundaries, we have been forced to live within small confines of our world.
This may make you feel cut off and adrift from the outside world. Perhaps things happening beyond Japan may seem far and irrelevant now to some of you.
We must realize, however, that we do not and cannot remain living inside a small bubble. The boundaries drawn around us are not absolute―they are constructed. Our daily life, no matter how mundane and confined it may seem, is a part of the larger current of the world. That the novel coronavirus is spreading in the way it is a testament to the fact the world connected. The race to develop new treatments for the virus and the resultant resumption of normalcy we hope for can only be achieved through global sharing of knowledge, information and goods. The need to imagine the world that lies beyond the lines we have set up is all the more important in this age where “social distance” is valued by the society.
The borders and boundaries set up around you during this crisis are not absolute. They will no doubt be redrawn in the near future. Your world will expand once again. In the meantime, the university will be offering various global experiences via online to help you prepare for that time. As you continue with your study at the university, we hope you will be crossing and overcoming many borders and boundaries. Please keep on embracing your dream of launching yourself to the larger world.
Professor, Graduate School of Science
Executive Director and Vice President
Director, Division for Global Campus Initiatives
Professor, Graduate School of Interdisciplinary Information Studies
Director, International Education Support Office, Division for Global Campus Initiatives