Message from the Director

Kensuke Fukushi, Director, Institute for Future Initiatives, the University of Tokyo

The Institute for Future Initiatives was established in April 2019 as a global network institute, bringing together intellectuals from the University of Tokyo. The purpose of the institute is to promote interdisciplinary research in cooperation with society pertaining to the future of Earth and human society, thereby broadly contributing to the development of a sustainable future. Since its establishment, researchers with diverse backgrounds have collaborated across disciplines to address the challenges facing the contemporary world and provide results to society through policy recommendations.

In the spring of 2023, when the Institute for Future Initiatives celebrated its 4th anniversary, the structure of our research divisions was reorganized from seven to four. The Global Governance Research Division approaches complex global risks by utilizing cross-disciplinary knowledge from fields such as political science, development studies, and engineering. The Co-creation of Communities Research Division develops communities as forums for co-creation and co-learning through action research and implements governance of social systems capable of confronting complex social issues cross-sectionally and autonomously. The Innovation and Governance Research Division aims to establish a new academic foundation related to policy, management, and social design of science, technology and innovation and implement appropriate technology to the society. The Collaborative/Sponsored Research Division promotes collaboration with private companies and other universities. The purpose of this restructuring is to encourage communication among researchers to stimulate innovation and simultaneously increase the output and enhance the visibility of each research division. Furthermore, by reducing the number of departments, we expect to delineate the missions of the institute’s activities more clearly.

After its inception in April 2019, the institute has been working under the influence of the COVID-19 pandemic. Research activities such as collaborations with research institutes overseas, joint research projects with local governments and stakeholders, and field surveys have been severely restricted. Notwithstanding, our efforts were formulated to maximize research activities as much as possible by using information technology and adjusting the content of the research to avoid field surveys, such as by using simulations and performing theoretical research. We also conducted activities with a high international impact, such as establishing the Center for Global Commons (CGC) and holding symposiums in collaboration with a prominent academic publisher. An important activity of the Institute for Future Initiatives is dialogue with various stakeholders, and not only with the research community. Such a dialogue is important for co-designing research that leads to the development of new ideas, fields of research, and social implementation. At the end of the pandemic, various interpersonal activities will become active again while using the various new modes of communication that were utilized during the pandemic. I believe that this will lead to full-fledged research activities at the institute. In particular, activities that build international partnerships will be focused on.

The Institute for Future Initiatives aims to act as a hub for the collaborative creation of a better future society through cooperation between academia, government, business, and civil society. To achieve this objective, the participation of many people within and outside of the University of Tokyo is essential. We ask for your kind and continued cooperation.