Message from the Director

The Noto Peninsula earthquake occurred soon after we saw the end of COVID-19 pandemic. If we look at the world, we notice there are several tragedies still happening around, such as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, genocide in Gaza, and the rising neo-nationalism in several countries, which make us aware that it is not easy to maintain social tranquility. As such, “time” does not flow peacefully and smoothly. These tragedies would arise from people’s desires. Human desires, desire for dominance and self-expression, sexual desire, desire for approval, and so on, are limitless. What would be the result if people and the world acted only on these desires? Under these circumstances, what should we do now to keep a sound society? Aristotle says, “It is the intellect that can control desires.” As a grown-up, you are given the “intellect” to control your desires and make decisions for everything, which is your freedom of decision. Then, you want to ask how we acquire the intellect. Acquiring knowledge is not equivalent to acquiring intellect. The intellect discussed here is “the ability to think with one’s mind based on correct knowledge,” “the ability to think in order to survive even when not knowing 100 % correct answers in prior,” and “the ability to form one’s own opinions,” and “the ability to find who you are”. Those abilities are the core of liberal arts education, in other words, nurturing one’s intellect.

Masahiro Ohshima<br />Director<br />Institute for Liberal Arts and Sciences

On the wall of our president’s office hangs the phrase that reads “Jicho Jikei,” meaning that we should value ourselves, think and decide by ourselves, and strive to respect ourselves. The University also has a philosophy of “Jigaku Jishu.” This is the philosophy that learning means to think and experience for oneself, to explore human, social, and natural phenomena through free dialogue, and to open up new intellectual horizons. These are the very expression of Kyoto University’s desire to nurture and enhance our culture and intellect.

In order to help you acquire and develop intellect by the time you graduate, our Institute for Liberal Arts and Science (ILAS), as the organization responsible for planning and implementing liberal arts and general education, works closely with all faculties and with the cooperation of graduate schools, research institutes, and centers to provide you with fundamental knowledge and thinking methods that are standard to various fields that transcend individual academic disciplines. In addition, we also provide a place (education) for students to be exposed to high-value academic culture. Your academic path begins as you enroll in a university. The primary goal of our liberal arts and general education is to create a free and open intellectual space appropriate for the beginning of your academic path.

Moreover, in order for you to be internationally active, it is important to communicate and walk together with people from all over the world who have various values, cultures, and lifestyles. At the ILAS, we are also making efforts to cultivate your English and other language skills by enhancing classes taught in English by non-Japanese faculty members. Furthermore, we have a program to support studying abroad so that you can challenge your potential in the world.

I hope that all of you, young people, will believe in your own potential and move forward with faith in tomorrow. Kyoto University has much to offer you if you wish to pursue your studies here. Through intellectually stimulating classes given by enthusiastic professors and frank and vigorous discussions with your fellow students, I hope you will discover the joy and interest of studying at a university, learn a great deal, cultivate your intellect, and spread your wings to the world.

Masahiro Ohshima
Institute for Liberal Arts and Sciences