Overview of the project

The "Fostering Advanced Human Resources to Lead Green Transformation (GX)" project proposed by Professor Shin-ichi Ohkoshi (Project officer) has been accepted as a program for Support for Pioneering Research Initiated by Next Generation (SPRING) of Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST) from autumn, 2021. Hereinafter this project is referred to as "SPRING GX". Approx. 1,200 doctoral students from all schools of the University of Tokyo participate in this project.

(1) Purpose and contents of the doctoral program student support project

Explanation Video "Purpose and contents of the project"

The project (SPRING GX) aims to produce globally competent researchers who will contribute to realizing a Green Transformation (GX)* in all fields on a large scale (about 1,200 people enrolled in a doctoral program). The University of Tokyo will invest all existing assets to (1) create an environment where students with deep expertise and high-level research ability can freely conduct challenging and emergent research to feed their curiosity, (2) foster an ‘awakened culture where GX encompasses of the future vision of society and each student’s own research is related to societal issues, and (3) develop transferable skills to fully demonstrate professional abilities in society. For this purpose, three core programs and advanced skill training programs will be developed to realize a high portability of the student support environment. The project manager will select students with the assistance of the steering committee based on the students’ will to position their own research in GX, expertise, and the potential of the doctoral research. To ensure transparency, experts from national research institutes and industrial companies will also be engaged in the student selection process.

(2) Career development and training contents

Core programs and advanced skill training programs will be provided. The former consists of three programs: a bird’s-eye view lecture series on GX, a green future exchange meeting where students develop the relationship between their own research and GX through exchanges between students across disciplines, and GX-inspired lectures to highlight the relationship between cutting-edge research in various fields and GX. Through these core programs, individual students will embed the GX seeds in their own consciousness. The advanced skill training program consists of overseas training, industry–academia collaboration, and transferable skill acquisition support. Furthermore, educational contents will be developed based on cross-disciplinary programs, which have accumulated achievements at the University of Tokyo World-leading Innovative Graduate Study (WINGS) programs. The approx. 1,200 participating students will be provided a variety of programs tailored to their individual specialties and circumstances, and students will acquire the ability to fully demonstrate their professional abilities as GX experts in any field. At the same time, a supportive environment will be created for doctoral students to freely carry out challenging and integrated emergent research.

(3) Project officer

Project officer
Shin-ichi Ohkoshi

SO, the Project officer, has made remarkable global achievements in the field of fundamental science (chemistry). SO discovered long-term heat storage ceramics (λ-Ti3O5) and high-performance ferrite magnets (ε-Fe2O3) comprised of common elements. These materials contribute to solving energy problems and the Internet of Things (IoT) society. In addition to being reported in The Economist (UK), ε-Fe2O3 was also on display at the Science Museum, London (UK). The developed materials are attracting attention from industry, and some fields have already realized practical applications of SO’s research. After working for the 21st Century COE Program, the University of Tokyo GCOE program, and program for Leading Graduate Schools, SO is currently in charge of the University of Tokyo’s highly valued Global Science Graduate Course (GSGC). As a cross-organizational effort, he advocated for and implemented The University of Tokyo’s first doctoral double degree (UTokyo Double Degree) program. Currently, he is the director of a large-scale joint research project of the Center National de la Recherche Scientifique (France), has collaborated with foreign universities in 13 countries, and published more than 100 co-authored papers.
Details of the qualifications and capabilities of the Project officer

* Commonly, green transformation (GX) refers to the transformation of industrial structures and socio-economies to curb climate change caused by greenhouse gas emissions and lead to economic growth. In this project, however, GX is defined more broadly as a social transformation to better manage the global environment, which is the shared property of humanity, and to pass it on to future generations. Therefore, the academic fields to be covered are all fields related to the activities of humankind, i.e., all fields, and therefore, not only science and engineering but also humanities and social sciences are important. We believe that collaboration between professionals in the humanities and social sciences and professionals in science and technology is the key to the success of GX.
The Challenging Research Program for Next-generation Researchers (SPRING) is a government initiative to support 6,000 doctoral students starting from September 2021. The following is an excerpt (partially modified) from JST's application guidelines to help you understand the SPRING program. However, in recent years, both the number of students entering doctoral programs from master's programs and the percentage of students entering doctoral programs have been on a downward trend due to reasons such as "lack of financial support if I enter a doctoral program" and "concerns about finding a job after completing a doctoral program”. It is clear that the situation is critical. In other words, there is no time to waste in (1) strengthening financial support for aspiring doctoral students who will play a leading role in the future of science, technology, and innovation in Japan, and (2) promoting the development of various career paths for doctoral personnel to play an active role in a wide range of fields. This project will be implemented by the Project officer (the Project officer will be a member of the project team) who has the knowledge and ability to implement a solid and original concept for the development of doctoral students, the selection of excellent doctoral students beyond the existing framework, and the provision of support for the formation of a research environment and various career paths in which such doctoral students can independently conduct their own research. The Project officer (one per university) will be selected after a rigorous screening process. In order to ensure the smooth implementation of these initiatives, the Project officer will operate a management team to support the execution of their duties. In addition, the effectiveness of the project as a whole will be objectively assessed and will be constantly reviewed to ensure that sufficient results are achieved.

Consistency with UTokyo’s philosophy and policies, characteristics, uniqueness, and strategy

To solve the global challenges, we must confront and solve a wide variety of problems across all fields!

The project is consistent with the University's philosophy; (i) better management of the Earth’s system (global commons) as a common property of humankind, (ii) contributing to the realization of carbon neutrality, (iii) promoting digital transformation, (iv) diversity research, etc. The uniqueness of this project lies in the fact that GX is not only limited to green innovation but is a complete social transformation. Therefore, the subjected fields are those related to human activities, i.e., all fields. For the results to benefit society, it is important strategically to promote the project on a grand scale and to generate professionals in all fields.

(Regarding humanities and social sciences) Participation of students in the fields of humanities and social sciences is required.

Project officer’s vision for graduate school education reform

Provision of a challenging and interdisciplinary research environment

GX core programs

Advanced skill training programs