My first visit to the University of Tokyo was in autumn 1977. I distinctly recall walking through Akamon and being in awe of the contrast between the autumn leaves and the red gate. I last walked through Akamon in autumn 2019. I had kindly been invited by Professor Hideto Fukudome, Director, Center for Advanced School Education and Evidence-based Research (CASEER), to give a guest lecture on “University–High School Collaboration” at the Graduate School of Education. I was scheduled to visit again in March 2020 but my trip had to be canceled due to the pandemic. Despite the pandemic, Fukudome conceptualized a lecture series that would allow SPICE staff to virtually walk through Akamon to collaborate with CASEER faculty and University of Tokyo students.
On November 1, 2021, the lecture series—SPICE/Stanford–UTokyo Partnership on International and Cross-Cultural Education and Global Citizenship—was launched. The goal of the lecture series is to provide a platform to share current research and practice. The discussions will ideally result in opportunities to collaborate between both organizations, and also opportunities for student engagement.
Fukudome delivered the first lecture, “Multiculturalism and Classical Tradition in Liberal Education: Comparative and Historical Perspectives.” Since his was the first lecture of the series, he opened by sharing important information about the University of Tokyo to help set the context for the series. This included the vision of the new president of the University of Tokyo—including an emphasis on diversity and inclusiveness—and information about University of Tokyo admissions. President Teruo Fujii’s vision is captured in UTokyo Compass, a statement of the guiding principles of the University of Tokyo that is titled “Into a Sea of Diversity: Creating the Future through Dialogue.” It focuses on the need to build a democratic society in which each individual can live with respect.
Sprinkled in his lecture were comparisons between the University of Tokyo and Stanford University. One of the comparisons—that 20 percent of undergraduates at the University of Tokyo are women, versus 51 percent of undergraduates at Stanford University—was very surprising to the SPICE staff and prompted discussion. He also noted that most students are admitted solely based upon test scores, and that only three percent are admitted through a process translated in English as “self-recommendation,” which is a more holistic review process to determine admissions. In addition, he noted that in Japan, universities do not identify students’ socio-economic background in the admissions process.
In the heart of his lecture, Fukudome shared comments on the many different ways of thinking about liberal education in the United States. He noted two major trends that form the ideological foundation of liberal education. One is the classical approach, or the idea that the cultural and spiritual foundation of the United States is to be found in Europe and that the core of liberal education is to learn about Western civilization, which originated in Greece and Rome. The second is multiculturalism, or seeing the cultural origins of the United States as diverse and made up of many races and ethnic groups. He noted, “These ideas are often viewed in opposition to each other over the undergraduate curriculum. From the perspective of how to think about the ideological basis of the curriculum, both ideas can provide suggestions for Japan. In this sense, the ideological debate over liberal education in the United States has an essential meaning for Japan as well.”
The SPICE staff is looking forward to further exchanging ideas with Fukudome and his CASEER colleagues and the University of Tokyo students on topics related to liberal education and other topics of mutual interest. The second session on December 6, 2021 will focus on SPICE’s online instruction for high school students, including Stanford e-Japan, SPICE’s first online course for high school students in Japan that is supported by the Yanai Tadashi Foundation. The following are the list of speakers and their topics for the first six session of the lecture series.
The University of Tokyo faculty members who are participating in the lecture series all have experiences in the United States. Listed alphabetically, they are:
SPICE’s Maiko Tamagawa Bacha is a graduate of the University of Tokyo and following the first session commented, “The lecture series brought back fond memories of my time at the University of Tokyo as an undergraduate. In particular, it was touching to see one of my fellow undergraduate students—Misako Nukaga, now an associate professor at the University of Tokyo—in attendance! I am grateful to Professor Fukudome for bringing us together again and for also bringing my academic and work institutions together.”
Since UTokyo Compass underscores (1) the importance of a university as a place where diverse people gather to discuss, share, and solve problems and (2) the importance for students to think from multiple perspectives, I hope that the collaboration with SPICE will help to support UTokyo Compass. These two points have been central pillars of SPICE since its beginning in 1976.
With the start of baseball season, a fun fact to note is that on April 16, 1905, the Tokyo-based