January 01, 2024

2024 New Year Message from the President

Happy New Year!

Last year, the coronavirus catastrophe that lasted for more than three years finally came to an end, and was downgraded it to “Class 5,” the same category as common infectious disease in May. The world seems to have almost returned to normalcy. During the outbreak, we frequently heard the term, “post-corona.” Now, what has changed since before the COVID-19 pandemic? Things like online classes and remote meetings have now become common. However, I cannot shake the impression that people's awareness and behavior themselves do not change that easily. On the other hand, given the impact that the spread of IT devices such as smartphones and tablets has had on our way of life, it would be of great interest to see how the coronavirus catastrophe could be interpreted from a social psychological perspective.

It is still fresh in our minds that the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded last October to two scientists who developed the technology that led to the mRNA vaccines against COVID-19. The spectacular research career of one of these Laureates, Dr. Katalin Karikó, has been showcased in several magazine and newspaper articles. This has made me keenly aware of the importance of having a strong sense of purpose and a passionate researcher's mindset to keep challenging what others do not do or think is impossible, and of the importance of ensuring diversity in research, that no matter what the problem is, there is always research somewhere in the world that will lead to a solution. We should keep this in mind as one of the valuable lessons we have reaffirmed through the coronavirus catastrophe, both in the field of higher education and in academic administration.

In April 2023, SOKENDAI implemented a major reform of its educational organization and curricula to offer a 20-program system at Graduate Institute for Advanced Studies. This reorganization is based on the idea of nurturing resilient Ph.Ds who construct “good questions" with unfettered thought beyond organizational and disciplinary frameworks and boldly take on these challenges. Of course, we know that no organizational or academic revisions will lead directly to the type of human resources we seek to cultivate. The most important thing is for all of us, faculty and students alike, to change our minds and consciousness for the better. We believe that organizational and educational reforms, are the triggers for new and changed awareness, and provide environments that enable us to foster new awareness, which can then translate into new and better actions.

Today, conflicts have erupted in many parts of the world, creating alarming situations that could divide societies. There is no end to the disasters caused by extreme weather that threaten our lives. We all know that human society is facing great challenges. Changing individual consciousness and behavior is one small but important way to get the world moving in a better direction. Moreover, we must all make even greater efforts than ever before.

In the midst of these demanding circumstances, we will consistently consider the direction in which SOKENDAI can and should be heading. While heeding serious debate from inside and outside the University, we will make every effort to administrate and guide our SOKENDAI. We thank you for your warm support in the past and ask for your continued cooperation and assistance as we move forward. Wishing you all the best in the new year.

January 1, 2024
Nagata, Takashi Ph.D.
The Graduate University for Advanced Studies, SOKENDAI

NAGATA Takashi