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Address by the Dean at the 2022 PEAK & GPEAK Welcome Ceremony
ラベルSeptember 30th, 2022

Words of Welcome for
PEAK & GPEAK Welcome Ceremony
September 30, 2022


The Diversity of Knowledge and Human Beings Faced with the Anthropocene


Takumi Moriyama

New Students of PEAK and GPEAK,
Colleagues and Friends,

     It is with great pleasure that I warmly congratulate you upon your entrance into the University of Tokyo.
     The College and the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences in which you have just enrolled can be well characterized as an interdisciplinary educational and research organization, as they encompass the natural sciences, social sciences, arts, and humanities. Moreover, this organization forms the basis of UTokyo’s liberal arts education, mainly in the Junior Division of the College but also in the Senior Division and the Graduate School.
     As the Dean of the College and the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, I hope you will make the most of this advantageous academic environment, not only to deepen your knowledge in a specific field of study or research but also to broaden your interests and perspectives.
     Just as an example, I would like to refer to the coming of the new geological era—what is widely called the Anthropocene. Geological eras are normally divided and classified by the natural characteristics of the geological environment. However, the activities of human beings have profoundly influenced the geological situation in many ways.
     Ten thousand years ago, people entered the age of production economy with the start of agriculture and livestock farming, accompanied by the Neolithic Revolution. Beginning from the middle of the eighteenth century, we entered the age of the Industrial Revolution, which brought about great changes in industrial structures, innovations in energy use, the transformation of existing social structures, and much else.
     Since the Industrial Revolution, science and technology have developed remarkably on the one hand, while the amounts of energy consumed have increased enormously on the other. The industrial and technological characteristics of the modern and post-modern ages have thus caused such global-wide impacts on the geology and ecology of the Earth that we must now conceive of the Earth not only through its geology and natural environment but also through the activities of human beings and our impact on the Earth itself. This is why the term Anthropocene was coined about twenty years ago. It has since become well-known all over the world.
     I mention the Anthropocene as an example of a problem that requires diverse approaches. Many of the issues raised by the Anthropocene cannot be resolved through only one approach, that is to say, by only one academic discipline. One major problem that human beings have created in the Anthropocene is that of plastic wastes in the ocean. This problem must be tackled from multiple perspectives. We have to know the different values of the people concerned, their views about using commodities and dumping them, their attitudes about ecology and biodiversity. And we need to know the natural processes by which marine plastic wastes gather in one area of the ocean, and how they influence the living creatures there. Ultimately, we need to find out how we can get rid of those wastes not only by physical means but also by using our social capital and human resources.
     Problems raised by the Anthropocene thus need to be tackled through multifocal and multifaceted approaches. It is true that you have committed yourselves to a specific field of study, such as Environmental Sciences or East Asian Studies, but the College and the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences provide you with many additional stimulating academic opportunities where you can encounter many other fields of research and different ways of viewing the world and of thinking and talking about it. This academic environment will help you to broaden your outlook, and I am sure that it will also help you to develop networks among different kinds of knowledge. In this respect, you will become able to relativize your own fields of interest, so that you may view them from a more objective point of view and explain them more clearly to other people, thus stimulating the exchange of viewpoints with others. The networks of your knowledge will lead to expanding networks of your human relations as well, enabling you to understand better the different viewpoints of other people. This is thus how I would like you to acquire this attitude in our College and Graduate School: by enlarging your own perspectives and views, by relativizing your own areas of interest, and by respecting the positions and ideas of others.
     Finally, I would like to mention this challenging time, caused by the spread of COVID-19, when you have entered UTokyo. Under these difficult conditions, our College and Graduate School continue to strive to keep our research and education active and to ensure that our students’ lives on the campus remain safe and secure. We believe firmly that the most important thing now is to make sure that the learning and research on our campus continue. Moreover, we also believe that we must design and be ready to implement a new educational model for the post-COVID era. To that end, we need diverse forms of knowledge produced through many specialized fields of education and research and a comprehensive form of understanding that brings those fields together by integrating them. Our College and Graduate School, which form the basis for the liberal arts education at UTokyo, and include interdisciplinary educational and research programs, truly embody the diversity of knowledge and its integration. I hope that each of you will make positive contributions to the development of this integration of diverse elements and show us ways to realize a new educational model so that we may build our future campus together.
     Thank you for your attention. Congratulations again on your entrance into the University of Tokyo.

Dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences
Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences
The University of Tokyo