Dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and the College of Arts and Sciences
Dr. Yojiro Ishii
The University of Tokyo's College of Arts and Sciences and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences are located at Komaba campus, in a peaceful green residential area close to the trendy Tokyo neighborhood of Shibuya. About 6 500 College of Arts and Sciences junior division (first- and second-year) students and about 400 College of Arts and Sciences senior division (third- and fourth-year) students, as well as about 1 400 graduate students in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences study at Komaba, forming a campus community of about 8 000. There are also about 400 full-time faculty members engaged in teaching and research here, making us a comparatively large academic hub.
Our campus grounds cover 250 000 square meters, an area of approximately five times the size of Tokyo Dome. The first building you see as you walk from the train station through the main gates at Komaba is the university clock tower, a registered heritage building. Adjacent to the clock tower are our lecture hall and museum, buildings whose heavy stonework gives the unmistakable impression that our campus is a serious center of learning.
However, when you stroll between the rows of ginko trees that run east to west across campus, you'll see the lighthearted vitality of Komaba life. At the east end of campus are our community co-op store, campus bookstore, cafeteria, and other facilities, as well as the elegant Komaba Library. Students gather every day at the community plaza here, busy coming and going to their various activities. Walk west from here between the rows of ginko trees and you'll come to the tennis courts and sports fields where you'll see students busy working up a sweat.
In this rich campus environment, students who are admitted to the University of Tokyo do not focus narrowly on one academic specialty but rather receive a comprehensive liberal arts education encompassing the humanities and sciences, with the aim of instilling in them a broad worldview. We are proud to offer lectures to our junior division students on about 3 000 topics, a breadth and range without parallel elsewhere. While in the 1990s universities across Japan were phasing out their liberal arts programs, we instead chose to make decisive reforms to our curriculum and developed a new concept emphasizing the practical value of a liberal arts education. Now, as the value of a solid liberal arts education is being reaffirmed by various stakeholders in Japan, more than a few universities are earnestly attempting to rebuild their programs. I believe that the College of Arts and Sciences’ junior division program at Komaba can play a leading role in this process.
A key facility in liberal arts education at Komaba is 21 KOMCEE (21 Komaba Center for Educational Excellence), a building that was designed under the concept of “an ideal education” and opened in the autumn of 2011. From the winter semester of that year, 21 KOMCEE has been used for discussion-based classes, active learning, and other innovative educational activities. At the same time, 21 KOMCEE is the site of an advanced experiment in social change: by integrating the latest energy-saving and carbon emission-reducing technologies, the building uses 30% less energy.
Furthermore, the PEAK (Programs in English at Komaba) initiative, which was launched in October 2012, saw 27 students from 11 different countries join our university. While their numbers are small, the sight of these PEAK students on campus chatting in English with the general student body has been a promising enhancement to the campus atmosphere. I hope this is the first step in a process that will see Komaba, five or ten years from now, develop into a truly global campus where multiple languages are used naturally in all aspects of university life.
Since the establishment in 1951 of both the junior and senior divisions of the College of Arts and Sciences at our university under the guiding concepts of "interdisciplinarity," "internationalism," and "the spirit of innovation", we have aimed to provide a leading-edge education and have produced graduates who have gone on to become leaders in many areas of Japanese industry and society. In recent years we have been striving to respond to rapid changes taking place in contemporary Japanese society by making significant organizational changes and curriculum reforms, while at the same time reaffirming our commitment to the traditional principles we have inherited. To this purpose, we have established three new senior divisions: the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences; the Department of Interdisciplinary Sciences (focused on interdisciplinary humanities and social sciences); and the Department of Integrated Sciences (focused on the natural sciences). The reorganization of education at Komaba also includes such measures as reducing the divisions between various programs and courses and recommending students choose a minor or subprogram; enhancing universal access to education for students with special needs; and establishing what we call a “science community”. These changes reflect our commitment to establishing multidisciplinary programs that meet the needs of society, and it is our hope that the students who join us here can develop a combination of solid expertise and a wide worldview that will enable them to make valuable future contributions in many fields.
In the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences as well we are promoting interdisciplinary learning through five areas of specialization: Language and Information Sciences, Interdisciplinary Cultural Studies, Area Studies, Advanced Social and International Studies, and Multidisciplinary Sciences. Furthermore, within the Multidisciplinary Sciences specialization, we offer concentrations in Life and Environmental Sciences, Basic Sciences, and General Systems Studies. Not only are we carving out new academic frontiers and expanding our presence on the leading edge of science and technology research, but we are also strengthening our commitment to interdisciplinary education and research by creatingprograms suchas Human Security, Global Humanities, and European Studies. In October 2012, in connection with the PEAK undergraduate program, we also established two graduate programs: GSP (Graduate Program on Global Society) and GPES (Graduate Program on Environmental Sciences). The results of these active graduate research initiatives are communicated in various ways to our liberal arts students, making Komaba a unique academic home for everyone from junior undergraduates to doctoral students.
In addition to the regular teaching and research activities that take place at Komaba, special lectures and exhibitions, regular organ recitals, outdoor performances, Friday lectures for high school students, and many other community outreach activities are scheduled year-round. These activities, as well as our campus cafes and restaurants, draw many visitors to Komaba, allowing us to consider ourselves an open campus that serves our local community and the larger society we belong to.
We consider Komaba to be a liberal arts oasis, by which we mean that on the peaceful green grounds of Komaba campus we strive to nurture the intelligence and sensitivity of all our students, in both the College of Arts and Sciences and the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. As is written in the Charter of the University of Tokyo, we remain committed to helping our promising young students, who are eager to work hard and learn together, develop in the not-too-distant future into truly “intellectual citizens with a futuristic global outlook”.