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UTokyo Compass

September 30, 2021

Announcing UTokyo Compass

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Teruo Fujii
President
The University of Tokyo
 

UTokyo Compass is a statement of the guiding principles of the University of Tokyo, of the ideals to which our university should aspire and the direction it should take, under the title “Into a Sea of Diversity: Creating the Future through Dialogue.”

I am announcing UTokyo Compass not only as a mission statement like those issued by every new president of the university. I intend for UTokyo Compass also to be a call to everyone at UTokyo to build a common vision for our university and to ensure that we make steady progress along a shared course over the coming decades, all the while earning the understanding of the entire university community and of our stakeholders in society.

The University of Tokyo Charter, adopted in March 2003, marked a historical turning point for Japanese higher education, for it clarified UTokyo’s principles and goals in response to a major change in our role in society, when the national universities were incorporated as autonomous entities. In line with the principles of the Charter, successive presidents of the university have released mission statements in the Action Plan (July 2005), Action Scenario (April 2010), and The University of Tokyo: Vision 2020 (October 2015). Each of these documents was an attempt to chart the ongoing transformation of UTokyo in conjunction with the changing times and through specific goals and action plans.

The time has now come for us to think deeply about the university’s autonomy and creativity, for these are essential qualities for a national university in this new age. This autonomy and creativity are not based on any existing model; rather, they are ideals we seek to follow and strengthen as we work to overcome the challenges facing us. When previous presidents talked about reforming the operation and management of the university, they meant much more than merely improvements to our financial, personnel, and administrative systems. Now, by taking a multifaceted view from the three perspectives of “knowledge,” “people,” and “place” and by creating a virtuous circle among these three perspectives, UTokyo is working, as a university that serves the global public, to nurture diverse and talented individuals and to discover solutions to the global issues facing humanity. It is this kind of management that the university must develop for itself to expand its scope as an academic institution. UTokyo Compass thus charts a new course for UTokyo as an organization willing to question the possibilities of the university and to radically reimagine itself even as it tackles contemporary global issues. It is also a challenge both to the university to put its extensive creative powers to the test and to the larger society to which we belong.

Both in the management process and as a creative methodology, I place great importance on dialogue. Dialogue is more than just a discussion or exchange of information. By dialogue, I mean the act of trying to understand. To understand, we need to question. The ability to formulate questions is fostered at the university and is essential for starting dialogue. But just asking questions is insufficient. For in-depth dialogue, we must share our questions with others and develop the ability to question together. Engaging with each other through dialogue as we face problems together builds mutual understanding and confidence through the process of seeing, feeling, and thinking together. Dialogue also fosters harmony among diverse voices. To create a future founded in diversity, we need to be keenly sensitive to unfairness and discrimination and to the existence of vulnerable groups in society, and we must actively confront relevant challenges with sincerity.

UTokyo Compass itself has been created through dialogue to the fullest extent possible. We organized working groups of faculty and administrative staff not only on the basic themes of research, education, and cocreation with society but also in the areas of digital transformation (DX), green transformation (GX), internationalization, diversity and inclusion, public relations and communication, work styles, and management strategies. The working groups were formed in close cooperation with the President’s Vision Task Force. With the support of communications staff, we also held eighteen “Dialogue with the President” sessions with faculty, administrative staff, and students in Japanese and English, and we listened to outside opinions through the university’s Administrative Council and other forums. But these mark just the first steps in what will be an ongoing effort to value and engage in dialogue. This UTokyo Compass is thus not a fixed set of rules to follow but rather a framework of principles that will guide the efforts of each university unit and every member of the university community and that can be applied, improved, and enriched as we seek to create a better university.

In addressing the complex global issues confronting today’s world, I believe that the cycle of dialogue and mutual confidence, born from research, education, and cocreation with society and fostered by UTokyo, will open up a bright new future. Pursuing our ideals together will create new connections. It is such dialogue and such connections that, I believe, form the foundation of the university’s principles of promoting cocreation with industry and our aspiration to excellence in service of society. Creating a uniquely autonomous university is like setting sail across a mighty sea of complex challenges. Nevertheless, I look forward to voyaging ahead in dialogue with all of you along the course set by UTokyo Compass.

 

UTokyo Compass ~Into a Sea of Diversity: Creating the Future through Dialogue~

I. Basic Principles

As a hub for creating, connecting, and deepening academic knowledge, the University of Tokyo will foster the fundamental ability to question with the goal of achieving academic excellence and realizing an inclusive society. To achieve academic excellence, it is essential for diverse groups of people to come together to discuss, to learn, and to identify and share challenges and solutions. UTokyo will engage in research directed at the pursuit of truth and founded in academic freedom, and in education that nurtures people with a global perspective, high ethical standards, and tenacious practical skills, and it will build a new model of an autonomous and comprehensive university that integrates and deepens the great breadth of academic knowledge.

UTokyo will continue to work tirelessly to solidify confidence in the university as a place for creating value through academic activity. Going beyond the traditional roles of a national university, UTokyo must have the creativity to design its own practices in order to play an active role as an institution that serves the public good worldwide by helping to resolve the global challenges faced by human society. We will develop those practices through the university’s managerial competency, solidify the university’s foundations of material and financial resources to support autonomous and creative activity, and enhance the value of academic activity through the creation of knowledge, people, and place.

UTokyo aims to create a better future society that is inclusive and free, founded on the accumulation of distinctive and unique academic knowledge that has been inherited and enhanced over the generations. UTokyo is conscious of the foundation of its continued existence and its social responsibility. We will overcome divisions and obstacles through the practice of sincere dialogue that can correct the very real unfair and unreasonable disparities that exist in society today to create the academic knowledge needed to realize a better future society together and foster cocreation with all of society.

Knowledge (Perspective 1)

Exercising our academic freedom and autonomy as we seek to thoroughly understand the world in which we live, UTokyo will create a diverse body of academic knowledge that can be relied on when identifying the challenges facing society and their solutions. Through dialogue that is open and transparent to criticism and verification, new academic knowledge will be created by a university that is aware of its responsibility to serve the public, including those excluded from existing political and economic frameworks.

UTokyo will prioritize the advancement, in both breadth and depth, of basic research essential for technological innovation and will play an important role as a hub connecting and enabling access to all types of knowledge. Society cannot obtain the full benefits of new technologies without the support of academia to evaluate their impact. This role can only be fulfilled through collaboration that transcends boundaries between the humanities and the sciences.

The creation of academic knowledge in the pursuit of truth at UTokyo proceeds while listening to diverse voices, driven by the curiosity and inspiration of those who seek to learn and supported by the sincerity that is at the core of a commitment to society. Such dialogue is also the basis of the power to connect and energize the associated knowledge and people.

People (Perspective 2)

UTokyo nurtures talented individuals capable of creating the future. This university’s mission is to provide the world with well-rounded talented individuals who have excellent dialogue skills and the specialized knowledge and education to support all places of society. At the same time, we will focus on providing an education that enables students, as leaders of the next generation, to listen to the voices of the overlooked and to build empathic relations with others with sensitivity to how their own voices resonate.

UTokyo welcomes diverse students, faculty, and administrative staff from throughout Japan and around the world and produces promising talent. The university fulfills its functions for research, education, and engagement with society at the core of a large and continuously circulating network that is open to the world. In order to nurture flexible dialogue skills, UTokyo will enhance the framework for students to gain a variety of real-life experiences, including expanded opportunities for overseas study, experience at overseas universities and partner facilities and in global internship programs, and engagement with local practitioners.

UTokyo will take full advantage of the potential of digital transformation and cyberspace to pioneer education that promotes student dialogue and student participation beyond conventional bounds. The university will promote an inclusive education that is not fixed to any particular age groups, attributes, or backgrounds, in keeping with the increased importance of inclusion in this age of rapid change and complex values and issues.

Place (Perspective 3)

UTokyo will redefine the role of the university as a place of inclusion, where the practice of dialogue brings out the individuality and creativity of each academic discipline and its polyphonic nature is energized. Together with diverse people from all walks of life, we will devise ways to make full use of the place provided by the university. Through such repeated dialogue, we will expand our network and communicate to the world the attraction of UTokyo as a university that anyone in the world would want to come to.

UTokyo’s vision of creating place is not limited to the enhancement of equipment and facilities. We also make comprehensive efforts to develop attractive research, education, and employment systems that will lead to a brighter future. We value the diversity of our faculty, administrative staff, and students, reexamine the ways in which we learn and work to fully exploit the opportunities offered by digital transformation, provide stable employment and diverse career paths for young people, and improve the inclusion and treatment of university members who may be facing difficulties in relation to their nationality, gender, disability, or other characteristics. We will develop education and research methods based on the improvement and expansion of the online environment, with the aim of recreating the campus as a place that helps to keep people safe even in the event of unexpected disasters and emergencies.

UTokyo regards the broader society as the proper locus of its activities and will engage in creative dialogue to build relations founded on confidence and allow the university to serve as a bridge among diverse people and organizations. We will also work actively to expand our financial base, including through endowments and bond issuances, to enhance the university as a place. By creating a variety of places, we will build a virtuous circle of confidence and support for the university’s public significance and unique functions.

A future made possible through dialogue

Academia’s fundamental mission is to aspire to high ideals, to recognize the shortcomings of our current situation, and to identify issues for progress and improvement, so that we can envision a better future. It is through dialogue that we can break through society’s divisions and blockages and create new connection and interaction where before there was isolation. Through the confidence cultivated over many years in the university’s academic creativity and educational development, we can deepen dialogue with diverse stakeholders in our mission and ideals, foster understanding, and work together to resolve public issues such as the stewardship of the global commons for future generations. These are responsibilities that society expects us to fulfill.

Upholding academic freedom and autonomy, UTokyo strives to pursue truth and create knowledge and aspires to form a complex and pluralistic academic space in cooperation with other universities and research and educational institutions in Japan and around the world. The university’s pursuit of research and education that asks questions together is also a practice that shares a clear direction to the future for a society that is searching for a way forward in the face of difficult global challenges. As an autonomous and public entity, UTokyo is deeply aware of its role in society and the world and of the impact of its research and educational activities. UTokyo will further promote dialogue that is open to diversity and will work hand in hand with society to create an ideal vision for a shared future.

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