Tokyo College as an interdisciplinary ‘agora’
Engaging about a year from the establishment of Tokyo College since February 2019, the College is coming to be a new arena for various scholars and people from different expertise in variety of disciplines together.
With my background, I engaged mainly in the theme of the College related to science and technology, especially to ‘the planetary boundary’. This specific phrase was proposed by Professor Johan Rockstrom and his colleagues in 2015, which was an alert of several aspects of our planet endangered. For example, loss of biodiversity is in crisis beyond our awareness. Some scholars proposed to call this era as ‘Anthropocene’, when human beings and their behavior have been influencing the geology and ecosystem of the earth.
Last year, the College were very lucky to have two scholars related to this theme from different disciplines at the same time; one is Professor Geoffrey Sachs, Economist in the Columbia University, and another is Professor Yuan Tseh Lee, Nobel Lauriat in Chemistry in Academia Sinica of Taiwan. Professor Sachs majored in political economics and a leading scholar on economic development and the fight against poverty. He is thought to be one of founders of United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, which is now the world common targets of sustainability. Professor Lee was the president of International Science Council (ICSU) from 2011 and played a key role to create an international program of Future Earth, the incorporated international program of global change issues. Professor Lee joined the lecture of Professor Sachs to echo the importance of our actions to the global issues, such as no poverty, zero hunger and health. Professor Lee stayed for whole month to deliver two lectures, communicating young scholars and senior experts to encourage their works on sustainability science, which is still a young, but important discipline. Last September, Mis. Greta Thunberg impressed the world during the United Nation Climate Action Summit in New York, but in Tokyo it was November two giants regarding sustainability encountered.
The global issues are complicated and was said never to be solved by single discipline. For academy, collaboration of different discipline, so to speak interdisciplinary endeavor are required, but socially, moreover, involving non-academic environment is expected, called ‘transdisciplinary’. The November event was inviting two scholars from economy and chemistry as lecturer, but in audience, there were more from other natural science, social science and humanities. I am very happy that the College provided such an interdisciplinary, or transdisciplinary agora.
I am excited and expecting number of opportunities to have interdisciplinary discussions in the future in the College.