Since its founding over 100 years ago, Kyoto University has sought to cultivate a spirit of autonomy, independence, and creativity through a philosophy of academic freedom based on frank and open dialogue. It has pursued excellence in higher education and cutting-edge academic research with the ultimate aim of tackling complex global problems and contributing to peaceful co-existence within the Earth’s human and ecological community. In these times, we have a growing responsibility to foster the capabilities of aspiring scholars from Japan and around the world to gain international competence, pursue diverse research, and share the findings of that research as the common property of all humanity.
At the same time, many 20th-century problems—deterioration of the global environment, mounting tensions between different ethnic and religious groups, international competition for resources, financial crises, social disparities, and insecure livelihoods, to name a few—have been carried over unresolved into the 21st century, where they continue to escalate. We are experiencing rapid changes in world affairs and in the conditions surrounding our own country. In Japan, demographic change and a fundamental fiscal imbalance have generated an expectation that national universities reform their operations and structures. Of particular note is the optimization coefficient-based annual reduction in university grants from the national government, which is placing our university’s finances under ever-greater pressure.
In 2014, as we accelerated our reform agenda in alignment with our third set of medium-term goals and plans, I felt it was necessary to establish a set of principles, grounded in an accurate appreciation of the situation facing our university, to guide the reform process and its implementation.
In 2015, to orient Kyoto University in its response to the abovementioned challenges, I formulated the WINDOW Concept. The concept envisages the university as a "window" opening into society and into the world as a whole, and based on that concept I aim to describe and clarify the university’s overarching mission: to develop the capabilities of talented students and young researchers, and send them out into their respective fields of endeavor. University education is not dedicated solely to the accumulation of knowledge and cultivation of understanding. The real question is how the knowledge and skills acquired can be applied in order to generate new ideas and discoveries. It is when university faculty, staff, and students come together in a way which enhances this creative spirit that innovation is born. Innovation does not occur when every student is working towards the same objective, even if each improves their own abilities. The way to generate new ideas is to provide opportunities for different types of abilities to come into contact and healthy competition with one another. My vision for Kyoto University is that it does not merely provide a competitive environment, but it is also a place where people are exposed to different abilities and ideas beyond their own fields, enjoy dialogue, and build cooperative relationships. Our university should use such encounters and dialogue to foster ambitious, intelligent students, open windows to a world in which they can flourish, and guide them gently out into that world. This is the dream and goal which I hope all Kyoto University faculty and staff members can share.
To represent this idea, I formulated the acronym "WINDOW" in 2015, and this year, we have revised and updated the concept, building upon the efforts we have made since its original formulation, and in response to ongoing social and environmental changes. Several new measures have been added to the WINDOW Concept to reflect our changing circumstances and priorities. Notably, in 2017, Kyoto University was officially appointed as a Designated National University* by the Japanese government, and the measures that we will implement under that designation have been included in the revised WINDOW Concept.
Under the revised WINDOW Concept, we will advance the newly added policies and initiatives together with the work already in progress under the original version, remaining faithful to its original vision and content. As always, we welcome your valuable opinions and feedback as we strive for the constant development of Kyoto University and its endeavors.