Establishment of Institute for Future Initiatives (IFI): Contributing to the creation of a sustainable future society through exceptional scientific insights and collaboration with society’s various stakeholders
In April 2019, Policy Alternatives Research Institute and Integrated Research System for Sustainability Science will merge to form Institute for Future Initiatives (IFI), in order to advocate a vision that must be shared and realized for the future world. IFI makes policy and social recommendations on future society issues and pursues research in collaboration with society toward those ends. It also serves as an international network hub integrating university knowledge related to future society and as a platform for collaborative creation between industry, government, academia, and citizens to provide research-based alternatives for creating our future society and to help develop the human resources necessary to achieve it.
IFI takes the following three approaches to construct and bring about a vision of the future.
IFI not only tackles already obvious risks and, such as resource and environmental dilemmas, ﬁnancial and ﬁscal crises, and social and technological disparities, but also uncovers latent risks and issues relevant to our future through systemic knowledge, meticulous societal ﬁeldwork, and penetrating insights that enable us to present a vision of future society that encompasses members of society, including generations to come, who have not yet had the opportunity to leverage strengths that have been excluded until current social and economic arrangements.
IFI is engaged not only in solving particular issues healthcare and medicine, energy and resources, state security and presenting a vision of future society built upon advanced technologies, but also in addressing fundamental, normative questions what does it mean to be human, what shape should society take and creating and organizing the knowledge needed to sketch a vision of the future.
IFI seeks to reveal science and technologies, social and industrial structures, and visions of the future that will lead to the creation of a better future society by overcoming the tradeoﬀs that exist between competing value systems and visions of society. By building a platform for collaboration creation between industry, government, academia, and citizens, IFI is engaged in transdisciplinary work aimed at bringing about a vision of future society.
The new center will build and expand upon the core vision being pursued within and beyond Japan on the basis of SDGs/Society 5.0 to offer a new, ultra-long-term vision to the world. Toward that end, it will pursue activities in three main areas: 1) Shaping an ultra-long-term vision of the future, 2) collaborating on research to achieve that vision, and 3) developing human resources to support such a future society.
- Shaping an ultra-long-term vision of our future
When contemplating the sustainability of humanity and the environment in terms of centuries, it is vital to learn from the hundreds and thousands of years of human, environmental, and technological history. Inquiring into the future by learning from the past may necessitate a productive re-building of notions we currently label “the environment,” “existence,” “happiness,” and so on. Through dialog with society’s various stakeholders, IFI will offer multiple scenarios for a future society that links past to future while developing the human resources needed to sustain inquiry and unending dialog on what it is to be human and the nature of social systems in a post-capitalist age of artificial intelligence.
- Collaborating on research to achieve our vision
Shaping an ultra-long-term vision of the future requires an understanding of contemporary society’s conditions. In the mid to long-term, the medical, energy, and security issues that society is facing will intensify as global population trends shift, technological progress accelerates, and the planet’s climate worsens. Finding solutions to such issues will require a re-building of socio-economic systems, techno-scientific systems, and people’s values, including of things like employment and labor. Toward that end, IFI will collaborate with the various stakeholders in industry, academia, government, and the public to provide knowledge and guidelines for moving toward a better future society.
- Developing human resources to support our future society
Designing a sustainable society that harmonizes the natural environment, society, culture, and technology—not only in Japan and the West but for the global community, including in places like Asia and Africa—requires interdisciplinary knowledge. For that reason, IFI will develop human resources to support future society through World-leading innovative Graduate Study programs engaged in Future Society Initiative. It will also serve as a platform for knowledge collaboration by coordinating activities between multiple University of Tokyo departments, as well as industry, government, and the public.