On the occasion of enactment of the Charter of the School of Science, the University of Tokyo

IWASAWA Yasuhiro, former dean of the School of Science

In the 20th century, we saw remarkable progress in natural science and technology, which, even as it contributed to our everyday comfort and convenience, also has become a potential threat to the existence of the human race. This may help to explain why fewer than 20% of Japanese citizens demonstrate an interest in scientific matters. This is far lower than in many advanced countries, where the proportion is around 50%, and is the lowest among the 16 advanced countries surveyed by the OECD (*1). A similar trend is developing among children, who will create the future. In a survey conducted in 1998, 38% (a 7.3% increase over 1995) of schoolchildren responded that scientific discoveries will bring more harm than benefit (*2).

These findings indicate that science and technology are not necessarily accepted by Japanese society. However, we need to understand nature through the study of basic science before we can overcome the negative aspects of science and technology. Science will become increasingly important for the promotion of peace and welfare in the world and harmonious coexistence with the global environment.

As educators and researchers engaged in higher scientific study, we at the School of Science must realize our responsibilities and explore new fields. At the same time, we must make greater efforts to convince the general public of the importance of science. We are committed to realizing the significance of science, carrying out innovative changes and further promoting education and research in advanced science.

Recently, national universities have been transformed into independent corporate entities, and the general framework for academic studies is undergoing significant change. The School of Science will address these trends on its own initiative and further improve its education and research standards. Having considered the desirable long-term objectives for the School of Science, we concluded that there was a need to establish a standard for the promotion of education and research. Hence this Charter for the School of Science.

We at the School of Science will intensify our efforts to promote education and research in science based on this Charter. We look forward to your understanding and support.

  • *1 1997 survey by the OECD
  • *2 1998 survey by the National Institute for Educational Policy Research