The Graduate School of Frontier Sciences (GSFS) was established in 1998 with support from across the University of Tokyo, and in April 1999 started accepting students as an independent graduate school without an associated undergraduate school. Originally formed at Hongo Campus, GSFS began relocating to Kashiwa Campus in FY2001, and completed the move in March 2006. Today, GSFS comprises eleven departments grouped into three divisions—Transdisciplinary Sciences, Biosciences, and Environmental Studies—and the Graduate Program in Sustainability Science - Global Leadership Initiative, which is run by the school as a whole. Together, they span a broad spectrum of disciplines that includes nanotechnology, materials, energy, information science, complexity science, biosciences, medicine, environmental studies, and international studies, among others. Our community is made up of some 180 faculty members and over 1,450 graduate students, constituting one of the largest graduate schools at the University of Tokyo. As of the end of FY2018, a total of 7,333 master’s degrees and 1,606 doctorates had been awarded by our school. In 2018, we celebrated our twentieth anniversary by holding a commemorative symposium and ceremony on October 31.
GSFS was founded on the core principles of “transdisciplinarity” and “intellectual adventure.” Transdisciplinarity is the creation of new domains and frontiers of science through the fusion of different established disciplines, while intellectual adventure is the spirit of boldly taking on new challenges with all one’s might, never fearing failure. GSFS, in its pursuit of groundbreaking research across diverse realms of learning, functions as a hub of today’s advanced sciences where new knowledge is produced through collaboration and interaction among educators, researchers, and students who tackle challenges with the spirit of scientific adventure.
The students who study and carry out research at GSFS come from diverse backgrounds, including graduates of other universities, international students, and adult & returning students. We offer many multidisciplinary educational programs that enable participants to learn the many different facets of scholarship from a broad perspective. Our students are thus given the opportunity to acquire a wide range of knowledge as they conduct advanced specialized research and collaborate with peers at international centers of science and learning. Through these programs, GSFS cultivates “knowledge professionals” who possess not only the sophisticated scientific expertise that is fundamental to frontier research, but also the wide-ranging perspective needed to identify various challenges and seek out solutions to them. Moreover, we run the Student-led Creation Project, which provides support to student-led initiatives for community interaction, supporting disaster area communities, and other such efforts (proposals are taken from students through open recruitment).
In January 2019, we launched WINGS-PES as part of our World-leading Innovative Graduate Study (WINGS) initiative for developing world-class graduate education programs that integrate master’s and doctoral studies and are built around the University of Tokyo’s cutting-edge research and diverse sciences. The new WINGS program in Proactive Environmental Studies (WINGS-PES) is designed to foster “environmental knowledge professionals” who can play active roles in global settings. To do this, it provides a systematic educational program offering opportunities for students to not only acquire strong expertise in individual fields of the existing GSFS departments, but also master: proactive approaches grounded in predictive techniques that utilize advanced data analysis and simulations; concepts and diverse methodologies pertaining to sustainability; problem-solving leadership; and international communication skills. We will further consolidate our hub for nurturing environmental knowledge professionals by leveraging : GSFS’s advantages as a graduate school that brings together diverse disciplines in both the humanities and the sciences, and that creates new domains of learning through the transdisciplinary approach; and the advantages of Kashiwa Campus, which facilitates close-knit educational and research exchange with partners such as the world-leading innovative research institutes in the campus and the R&D institutes in Tsukuba.
As one of our efforts to promote undergraduate education reforms, we run the University of Tokyo Summer Internship Program (UTSIP) for undergraduate students from overseas who are considering studying in Japan. Another initiative in this area is our Kashiwa Science Camp, a hands-on introduction to laboratory research that is held in the winter for Komaba Campus students, with the cooperation of research institutes at Kashiwa Campus. This camp is designed to provide early exposure to high-level research by helping participants learn the fundamentals of how trained scientists perceive and think about the subjects of their research. We also engage in international collaborations in education, including various student exchanges and educational partnerships with overseas institutes and universities such as the University of Lyon, Princeton University, Imperial College London, MIT, Zhejiang University, and the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology. We emphasize collaboration among Japanese and international students of different backgrounds. This commitment helps to enhance our educational efforts to foster international-mindedness and expand the diversity of our student body.
In addition, we strive to translate our scientific achievements into contributions to society by working to diversify our school’s recurrent education functions, and to cultivate professionals with strong expertise. We do this by running a professional training program with the collaboration of MIT, as well as the Data Scientist Training/Education Program (DSTEP), which offers on-the-job training in practical omics data analysis. In addition, we are further developing GSFS into a hub of international research by proactively engaging in world-class research in state-of-the-art and transdisciplinary domains, including collaborative research with scientists outside Japan.
Operating at the suburban Kashiwa Campus, GSFS serves as a center for university collaboration with the community, and as one node of the Tsukuba-Kashiwa-Hongo Innovation Corridor for industry-government-academia collaboration. We are endeavoring to strengthen these roles so that we can better make contributions to society with our research accomplishments and partner with businesses, other universities, and government agencies. The Urban Design Center Kashiwa-no-ha (UDCK), founded in 2006 as a hub for community collaboration, leverages the expertise of our university to implement internationally acclaimed projects in urban development driven by innovative design methods and technologies. In FY2018, UDCK teamed up with the town of Shinchi in Fukushima Prefecture and the National Institute for Environmental Studies to commence an urban development project in Shinchi. The project utilizes the know-how amassed by UDCK over the years and includes fieldwork by graduate students involving collaboration with the municipal government. GSFS is also committed to making advances toward the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), as seen in the launch of public-private-academia research under the Co-creation Consortium for Functional Bio-Research. This initiative, which was selected for JST’s Program on Open Innovation Platform with Enterprises, Research Institute and Academia (OPERA) in FY2018, seeks to develop microalgal biorefineries that can help reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide and the human impact on the environment.
The University of Tokyo is dedicated to the pursuit of outstanding research and the advancement of education. Kashiwa Campus, as a center of innovation, is evolving into an increasingly important contributor to that mission through its bold experimentation with game-changing ideas and approaches. Going forward, the Graduate School of Frontier Sciences will continue to seek new frontiers as it pursues intellectual adventures, strives for transdisciplinarity, and pursues future-oriented internationalization and collaboration with society.
Graduate School of Frontier Sciences