the educational principle
of Tokyo University of Science
President’s Office, Tokyo University of Science
Section 1The Spirit of the Tokyo College of Science as the Source of the Achieving Excellence
At the start of the Meiji era, approx. 150 years ago, the University of Tokyo was the only school in Japan teaching science. Science was a discipline that was still taught to an incredibly limited number of people. At that time, certain young people who had studied in the Department of Physics at The University of Tokyo unitedly decided to establish a school of physics by themselves. That school was the Tokyo Academy of Physics (later renamed the Tokyo College of Science). It is no exaggeration to say that the foresight of these young men is what led to the foundations of Japan as a nation of science and technology.
Having gained support from national and domain governments, they felt an extraordinary sense of gratitude for receiving elite-level education. With the firm belief that science is an indispensable discipline for the modernization of the nation, they united with the idea of popularizing science as proof of their gratitude.
However, despite advocating the popularization of science by establishing the Tokyo College of Science, the management of the college was extraordinarily challenging. In contrast to the schools of humanities and social sciences, this was an incredibly difficult time to establish and maintain a school of science, which involved experiments and observations. The 21 founders were all prestigiously employed and had little energy left over for management of the school. At first, borrowing a location from another school, they conducted evening classes after finishing their primary occupations. These are the beginnings of the Tokyo College of Science in 1881.
Many private schools have been founded solely by eminent figures, but the Tokyo College of Science is a unique university to have been formed by young men with an average age of 25. Their ideas and spirit can be summarized as follows.
1. The spirit of noblesse oblige
With a sense of duty as people undertaking a pioneering discipline, i.e., as those who were endowed with ability, they had the conviction to take the initiative to fulfill this challenging job.
2. Foresight and an enterprising disposition toward science
At the time, disciplines such as law, politics, economics, business, and foreign languages held a lot of weight, and those who understood the importance of science were very few in number. Against this zeitgeist, they looked toward a future in which the popularization of science would be the basis of Japan’s independence as a nation. This idea is incorporated into the founding spirit of the Tokyo University of Science.
3. Scientific thinking and Achieving Excellence
They realized that educating people who observe natural and social phenomena with a scientific eye, perceive unseen principles and realities, and can apply these to social implementation was important to the development of Japan.
Section 2What is Achieving Excellence Advocated by Tokyo University of Science?
One of the phrases that symbolizes the educational principle of our University is “Achieving Excellence.” The Achieving Excellence has been handed down since the establishment of the school. It is essentially based on the idea that "the most important thing is the will and ability (competency) of the individual that is unrelated to his or her connections, wealth, upbringing, history or age.” The Mission of the Tokyo University of Science is to educate people who have the ability to contribute to society. Why did the Achieving Excellence take root in the Tokyo University of Science? The main reasons are as follows.
1. The founding members held the belief that everyone should be given an equal chance for education while only those who were capable would graduate
The idea of the founding members that “everyone should be given an equal chance at education” can be seen in Terao Hisashi’s words at the celebration of the 25th anniversary as a teacher at the University of Tokyo. There, he spoke of his emotions from his time as a gifted youth at the school in his hometown when he had to temporarily bring his studies to an end because of the death of his father. Professor Hisashi’s earnest desire was clearly to give the opportunity to study science to people who, just like him, were working in society and who, despite being motivated to learn, did not have the chance to study due to their circumstances. Since the opening of the Tokyo College of Science until 1943, its doors were open to all those who wished to enter with no fixed number of students and no entrance examination. For that reason, everyone who was motivated could enroll regardless of age, history, social status, or wealth. In addition, the tuition fees were exceptionally low. It is also characterized as a night school, and this tradition has been handed down to today’s Faculty of Science Division II (night school).As such, while opportunities for enrolment were wide ranging, they did not relinquish the responsibility of sending out into society only those who were truly capable. For that reason, while enhancing education, it was also essential to be strict about promotion and graduation, including the formation of a “barrier system.” As a result, in some school years, there were no graduates, to the point that there was a “Failure Shrine” on campus where students would go to pray to avoid failing.
2. The stratification of the characteristics of science and technology, i.e., the construction and application of theories, cannot be achieved without true ability
In contrast to other universities, the Tokyo University of Science has taught only the disciplines of science and technology ever since the establishment of the Tokyo College of Science.
These disciplines are characterized by the stratified structure of theory, which is notable in mathematics, for example. This means that suffering a setback at a certain point makes it completely impossible to understand anything beyond that point. Without an accurate understanding of the theoretical foundations, further progress cannot be made. For that reason, utmost priority is placed on acquiring solid basic skills. The elucidation of natural phenomena by means of science and social implementation by means of engineering is only possible once the theoretical foundations have been acquired. The history of education and research at this University speaks to these things as well as the importance of the stratification of science and technology, which can lead to the formation of new industries.
Section 3What Kind of Abilities should the Tokyo University of Science Teach the Next Generation?
Education has universal objectives and aims that go beyond generations. However, there are some details that must change as time goes on. Along with this, the abilities required in society also change. Based on the changing times, the “abilities toward Achieving Excellence to be taught by the Tokyo University of Science that will open up the path to the future” include the following spirit and competencies.
1. High aspirations and the spirit of noblesse oblige
Furnished with far-reaching education and the correct ethical values, sparing no effort to acquire and live up to the sense of duty with regard to society’s demands, and having the spirit of taking the initiative in and contributing to the development and continuation of people’s happiness and of society.
2. High level of expertise and scientific thinking ability
In addition to a high level of expertise, acquiring logical and evidence-based scientific thinking ability through the construction of that expertise.
3. Creativity and an enterprising disposition
Perceiving new problems within the chaos of nature and ever-changing society, grasping things from a unique perspective, and creating new academic fields and innovations based on flexible thinking.
4. Ability for co-creation
Having the ability for co-creation in a global and highly-specialized society that surpasses the barriers of specialist fields through proactive interaction with diverse people and the mutual recognition of the strong points of others who have different thoughts and abilities.
Tokyo University of Science further enhances education and send out into the world students who can open up the path to the future.
March 1, 2021