The Future Management of GRIPS
April 3, 2017
Academic Council and Board of Officers Meeting, GRIPS
GRIPS is a graduate school established with the mission of contributing to the development and advancement of democratic governance both in Japan and abroad through research and education in government policy and policy reform. Every aspect of the university’s management contributes to the fulfillment of that mission.
As well as conducting advanced policy research, GRIPS provides world-class graduate education in public administration to facilitate the professional development of individuals who will become national leaders and senior government officials in Japan and abroad. We are currently in the second year of our six-year plan and we have been steadily implementing the goals of the current period.
Under my predecessor, Takashi Shiraishi, GRIPS laid out a vision of establishing itself as one of Asia’s premier policy schools and building on its role as the center of an international network of public policy graduate schools. We are now in the process of undertaking initiatives that will make this vision a reality. These initiatives include restructuring and enhancing our degree programs; providing more, and better, opportunities to enable members of our diverse student body to learn from one another; and actively contributing to the formation of key government policies. I plan to move these initiatives ahead and in order to do that, I would like to make several points in the broad context of these efforts.
First, following the recommendation of the members of the International Advisory Committee, I wish to place greater emphasis on exchange and mutual learning among Japanese and international students. It would be quite regrettable if Japanese students were not able to take full advantage of the multi-cultural environment at GRIPS, where nearly 70% of students come from other countries. Moreover, I feel that if, having come all the way to Japan for their graduate education, international students are unable to fully enjoy the opportunity to work extensively with Japanese students and to learn from them, much of the meaning of their decision to study in Japan will have been lost. I intend to pursue this matter further, in addition to implementing the initiatives that are already planned. I will also ensure that this matter is given full consideration in the restructuring and enhancement of our degree programs.
The second point I wish to make concerns efforts to promote policy research. It goes without saying that in a university environment, research should be pursued freely by the researchers themselves. I believe that it is vital for us, as a university, to demonstrate the utmost respect for the
free pursuit of research on topics that our faculty members regard as important and to establish an environment that is conducive to such intellectual freedom. At the same time, I would like to encourage our faculty members to choose research themes that are appropriate to our university’s mission. I am sure that, as members of a university located in Japan ? and indeed, in Asia ? our faculty members have already been undertaking research projects that are aimed at visualizing, theorizing, and substantiating Japanese and Asian experiences as objectively and systematically as possible. I hope that as we progress towards our new goals, our faculty will consistently engage in more research of that nature. If the outcomes of that research are reflected in our education more systematically, we will surely bolster GRIPS’ status as one of Asia’s premier policy schools.
Specifically, it is my hope that our faculty members will expand their horizons to include research that will contribute to the achievement of the sustainable development goals (SDGs) adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2015, and of the various targets incorporated into the Paris Agreement on climate change. The SDGs, consisting of 17 goals and 169 targets, are a highly comprehensive set of goals that bring together all countries across the globe. In May last year, the Japanese government established its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Promotion Headquarters and in December, it formulated its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Implementation Guiding Principles.
When I was President of JICA, I was involved in the process of formulating the SDGs and I am aware that the SDGs are not without problems. Although they have been adopted on the basis of a consensus and although they represent ambitious and comprehensive efforts to accommodate, as much as possible, the requests of various members of the international community, their structure is vague and the linkages between the goals are not sufficiently clear. The original intention was to limit the goals to a dozen or so, but eventually the UN ended up with 17 goals and 169 targets. If the world ? including Japan ? is to achieve these goals, a more concrete set of policy guidelines will be needed. Research conducted by GRIPS faculty members is unquestionably related to the various SDGs. It would be wonderful if research conducted by our faculty members helped to clarify the structural linkages between the goals and led to the creation of feasible and effective policies.
The third point that I wish to make is financing. With little prospect of an increase in our management expense subsidies, we need to boost our self-generated income; otherwise, we will be unable to encourage the free pursuit of research and we will find it difficult to attract high-caliber researchers and students. I believe that in addition to securing external research funding, we must make extensive use of the GRIPS Fund, which was established last year. I also wish to develop deeper ties with the business community, the media, and political figures through the provision of short-term training courses and similar initiatives, thereby increasing the number of stakeholders with a strong
interest in the future of GRIPS.
My fourth point concerns the need to create a healthier and more welcoming working environment at GRIPS. I would like to create an environment in which faculty members and administrative staff alike can exercise creativity and share knowledge, work fewer hours, achieve a good work-life balance, and enjoy harassment-free relations. I hope that we can extend the intellectual wealth of GRIPS to our non-academic staff and allow them to benefit from working in a university by providing them with opportunities for effective lifelong learning.
I also wish to further improve the information and communication technology (ICT) environment at GRIPS and to create infrastructure that will enable all of our work ? research, education, and administration ? to be conducted more efficiently and effectively. We should actively incorporate ever-evolving ICT, using it not only for research and education, but also to maximize administrative efficiency and flexibility in administration, while at the same time ensuring information security. I would very much like to hear the views of all stakeholders, including students, faculty members, and staff, as we consider our approach to setting optimal ICT systems in place.
Finally, I think that boosting recognition of our university’s name is a key challenge. I believe that the name of GRIPS has already achieved extensive recognition in Southeast Asia and it is becoming well known among Japanese government agencies and local governments, thanks in part to our many alumni there. However, my impression is that in Japan, GRIPS is still an unfamiliar name among the general public, the business community, and the media. While continuing to expand the number of training programs that we offer at the request of other countries and international organizations, we must enhance GRIPS’ presence in Japan by offering training programs that meet the needs of private companies, among others. Looking globally, I believe that it is vital to boost our name recognition in the world beyond Southeast Asia, particularly in the industrialized countries. To that end, I would like to encourage all of our faculty members to be as proactive as possible in building exposure by contributing articles to general readership newspapers and magazines, making television and radio appearances, and giving lectures, as long as these activities do not hinder their research and educational commitments. I also hope that all faculty members will continue to actively conduct research, attend academic meetings, and give lectures outside Japan.
Since my nomination as a candidate for the position of GRIPS President by the Presidential Selection Committee in March 2016, I have learned a great deal about GRIPS as Visiting Professor. Nevertheless, I am still exploring the details of research, educational activities, and organizational structure at GRIPS. Accordingly, I look forward to hearing your views and comments as I go about the task of managing this university. I appreciate your cooperation in this endeavor.
National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies