A Message from the Dean

Prof. Hiroyuki Takeda, Dean of the School of Science

The history of the School of Science at the University of Tokyo dates back to 1877. Since our founding, we have produced many achievements and talents as the center of scientific research and education, not only in Japan, but also throughout the world. From the very beginning and up to the present, we have been a professional group in pure pursuit of the discovery of natural laws. I have been proud to be affiliated with such a department, but now, given the opportunity to be involved in management, I feel greatly honored and, at the same time, I feel the weight of the responsibility.

Science is the study of all natural phenomena. The motive for this research is curiosity. From the elementary particles that make up matter, to our own cells and those that make up other organisms, to the global ecosystem, to the entire universe, our quest for inquiry will never stop. Research born from an inquiring mind is one of the sublime creative activities of mankind. The Nobel Prizes of Dr. Koshiba (2002), Dr. Kajita (2015) and Dr. Osumi (2016), who were senior faculty in the School of Science or trained here, were all recognized for ground-breaking results that expanded the horizon of human knowledge, and their work indeed represents the essence of science. Our human society has developed by acquiring deep understanding of the laws of nature through scientific research, which has led to the development of technology. Nature, on the other hand, is deeper and more formidable: sometimes sounding the alarm to our pride and arrogance. The Great East Japan Earthquake and the Fukushima nuclear power plant accident on March 11, 2011 exemplify such warnings. We must therefore always remember to be humble in the face of Nature. By rejecting prejudice, we humbly listen to Nature through observation and measurement and speak to Nature by experiment. Repetition of this process is the starting point of research. This process is a world totally unrelated to the research fraud which has become a hot topic recently. Human society now faces numerous global challenges: exhaustion of resources, natural disasters, environmental destruction, climate change, etc. I believe that these problems further increase expectations and demand for our diverse science that provides deep understanding of the full range of natural phenomena.

As stated in our Charter, the School of Science will continue to respect diversity of scientific research in a free research environment, create state-of-the-art knowledge, and pass it on to the next generation. To achieve this, we will take on the challenges of fusion research and research in interdisciplinary fields. In addition to the long established academic departments, the School of Science has also established the Institute for Photon Science and Technology, the Universal Biology Institute and the UTokyo Organization for Planetary and Space Science. In these organizations, researchers with diverse ideas and abilities drawn from different disciplines and departments are working together and are expected to create new scientific knowledge that does not fit into existing fields. I will support such efforts.

International exchange will further accelerate the creation of advanced knowledge. International cooperative exchanges, especially those involving younger students and scholars, are vitally important to the advancement of our mission. Our SVAP (Study and Visit Abroad Program) program already sends excellent undergraduates abroad and our summer program (UTRIP, the University-of-Tokyo Research Internship Program) selects and accepts excellent overseas undergraduate students. Since 2014, we have also offered the “Global Science Course (GSC)” as a second term undergraduate course taught in English for Japanese and foreign students, and in 2016, we established the Global Science Graduate Course (GSGC), which allows students to obtain degrees in English. We strongly support programs that encourage our young people to learn about different cultures, experience the world first-hand, and spread their wings without hesitation.

Our goal is to contribute to the sustainable and peaceful development of human society through the research and educational activities of science, together with the faculty and students of the School of Science. I hope that you will join us and open new paths for the future.