Message from the President

Teruo Fujii, President, the University of Tokyo

Today we are in an era where various problems facing humankind are exposed in people’s daily lives. Complex global challenges are emerging, such as the aggravation of climate change and resources, widening inequality, and the emergence of digital innovation’s side effects.

Various efforts are needed to tackle these issues, including the persistent exploration of the still unknown deep sea. What is required of academics and universities is not only to study individual academic fields, but to collaborate in the creation of “knowledge” that meets the demands of the times, through dialogue between fields, and also with various stakeholders in society, and to serve as a foundation supporting a new public sphere.

At the same time, in order to tackle the major challenges facing humanity, we need goals that can be widely agreed upon. As a reference point, the University of Tokyo uses the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) agreed at the United Nations in 2015. As a concrete step, we have been pursuing the Future Society Initiative (FSI).

We established the FSI headquarters directly under the president, and are promoting specific initiatives such as education and research for transformation in the digital and green domains, and collaboration with industry and overseas institutions.

The Institute for Future Initiatives (IFI), launched in 2019, is conducting interdisciplinary research on issues related to future societies, with a focus on the SDGs. In August 2020, we launched the Center for Global Commons to conduct research on responsible stewardship of the “global commons” and other public goods. Through these efforts, we hope that IFI will play a central role in creating a vision for FSI activities at the university.

Characteristically, IFI is a “forum for dialogue” that encourages collaborative creation between researchers in different fields, and between researchers and stakeholders in society. Two years since its inception, we are steadily expanding our role as a “forum” by working on the development of “people” through not only collaborative research, but also recurrent education.

I sincerely hope that the Institute for Future Initiatives will continue to develop further.