Graduate No. 1 - Tokyo College

Graduate No. 1

2022.02.28
HANEDA Masashi

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Tokyo College was established on February 1, 2019. As of the end of January, exactly three years have passed. The first picture you see here is of myself and Distinguished University Professor TOKURA on the day the College was founded. At that time, Tokyo College was still a “virtual” organization with no administrative staff; Prof. TOKURA and I were its only members.

The second photo is from April 1st of the same year. We had two Deputy Directors and five administrative staff members (the photo also includes staff from the Management Planning Department who handled set-up), but at that time, we had not yet welcomed visiting researchers or recruited new members from overseas. In the following year, we were busy contacting outstanding researchers to invite, creating a system to recruit early-career researchers, and making our vision for the organization as a whole into reality. In fall of 2019, we selected our first Postdoctoral Fellow, and at the same time opened an application call for the newly created Project Assistant Professor and Project Researcher positions. If my memory serves me correctly, Project Assistant Professor Michael FACIUS, Postdoctoral Fellow Michael ROELLINGHOFF, and Project Researcher TERADA Yuki joined us in January 2020 as our first early-career researchers.

That was only a little over two years ago. Since then, the number of early-career researchers increased dramatically; by the end of December 2021, there were nineteen (one Associate Professor, two Project Assistant Professors, eleven Postdoctoral Fellows, and five Project Researchers). They hail from twelve different countries across North America, Europe, and Asia, including Japan. All of them are wonderful researchers with outstanding achievements in their respective fields, and at the same time, they each hold a strong desire for cross-disciplinary collaboration. If you look at the third photo, which shows over twenty researchers and administrative staff members (and this is by no means every member we had in April 2021), you can see how much Tokyo College has grown.

One of Tokyo College’s missions is to provide a place for early-career researchers like these to pursue their own research and produce original results through friendly competition and collaboration with researchers at the University of Tokyo. We also hope that such researchers, who did not know each other before joining the College, will foster friendships here and after growing as academics, scatter throughout Japan and the world to create an international research network with Tokyo College as its hub.

Until now, people have only joined Tokyo College, but now, for the first time, one of our researchers has “graduated” from the College and joined a different research institute. That person is Dr. SHAKUTO Shiori, who was a Project Assistant Professor with us until the end of January. As of February, she is now a Lecturer in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Sydney in Australia. She joined us from Singapore in May 2020 when Tokyo was under a state of emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and she was with Tokyo College for a little over a year and half. However, I am sure that many of you reading this are well aware of her activities during that time.

She organized numerous panel discussions and lectures on important, meaningful topics in areas like gender and economics, often playing a central role in them as a moderator or participant. In addition to her scholarly articles, she also published several interesting blog posts on the Tokyo College website. Her incisive discussions about novel ideas at Tokyo College’s internal research meetings made a vivid impression on participants. In addition to simply pursing her research, she also dedicated herself to the daily operations of Tokyo College, including building the "Research” section of the website and editing the mail magazine.

It is a great pity to see Dr. SHAKUTO leave Tokyo College. However, I would rather see her departure from a positive, forward-looking perspective. Even if she was with us for only a short time, her diverse research activities were acknowledged by a prestigious Australian university. You could perhaps call it an acknowledgement of Tokyo College itself. Her graduation is also the first step toward forming an international network of researchers who were fostered at Tokyo College. She has set a wonderful precedent. We hope that many early researchers like her will take up positions overseas and at Japanese research institutions, expanding our collaborative research networks both domestically and internationally.

Fortunately, Dr. SHAKUTO has agreed to become an affiliated researcher at Tokyo College. We look forward to continuing to work with her in many respects as her career and research develops even further.

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