Message from the Dean of ISGS

Fostering Leaders with “Practical Competence”Yasuhiro Matsui, Dean, Graduate School of Integrated Sciences for Global Society (Main organizing body)

What does the Graduate Program of Interdisciplinary Policy Analysis and Design aim to achieve? I personally feel that the ultimate purpose is to foster leaders with “practical competence.” In this case, the term “practical competence” means “able to respond to problems occurring in a wide variety of places by presenting solutions through a combination of diverse expertise and practical wisdom, and leading such problems to be settled.” Since it is difficult for leaders to solve problems on their own, they definitely need the ability to involve other people and lead their group. In this program, with the three agendas of Convivial Community, Risk Management, and Culture and Health set as the main research areas confronting us, we strive to develop human resources with practical competence who can come up with approaches to solving problems.

The comparison with my experience of studying at graduate school more than 30 years ago makes me feel that the present time is quite different from those days. It was normal at my graduate school back then that there were a few faculty members in related disciplines who gave weekly seminars, and that students read classics and research materials on related fields beforehand and engaged in discussion based on the résumés prepared by those in charge of each session. Once every six months, these students reported their research progress at their seminar or research session, sometimes receiving criticism and advice. I assume that there was not much difference between my graduate school and others, as long as they were humanities or social sciences schools. Of course, this sober approach should not be made light of. Actually, as a traditional style of learning on methods of academism, this approach has contributed to producing many researchers and university faculty members. However, it has not directly led to the development of human resources with practical competence. The style is integral to the reproduction of academism, but such reproduction alone is insufficient for graduate schools today to accommodate social needs.

In recent years, Japanese graduate schools have changed a great deal. The leading programs in doctoral education at Kyushu University are the epitome of these changes. In developing and passing on this trend, the Graduate Program of Interdisciplinary Policy Analysis and Design strives to foster human resources who can plan, design, and implement policies to solve problems through cooperation. Since this is a minor program, students are expected to pursue their specialized field and related areas covered in their major program at their graduate school, and at the same time, to learn about interdisciplinary and practical approaches to solving problems in this program.

While focusing on their own academic field, the faculty members participating in this program have a rich experience of addressing actual problems and engaging in fieldwork. In a way, they are members with great practical competence. I hope that the curricula of this program and practical interaction with the faculty will result in the production of many graduates with practical competence.

Message from the Program Leader

Hopes for MiddlepersonsKazuo MISUMI, Program Leader, Graduate Program of Interdisciplinary Policy Analysis and Design

The Graduate Program of Interdisciplinary Policy Analysis and Design is a cross-graduate school minor program that aims to explore principles and courses of actions for collaboration to build a better world of tomorrow. In order to create a happy society for everyone, including our descendants, we need to solve many different problems. The more serious those problems are the more likely complex factors are involved. Solving one problem may create a new one in another aspect. Various factors, such as changes resulting from unexpected events, may prevent us from taking the best course of action. Against such a backdrop, we are expected to struggle to explore principles and courses of actions, which are called “policies” in this program. Policy is used as a keyword for learning in this program.

In this graduate school program, a high degree of specialization is essential in exploring a policy. On the other hand, the knowledge required to solve complex real-world problems lies beyond narrow specialization. This program helps build such knowledge through a cross-graduate school, cross-disciplinary approach, as well as collaborative efforts among all those involved. This program aims to develop students into leaders who will be able to play the role of a “middleperson” in society. As “middlepersons,” future leaders are expected to connect different specialized fields, and above all, to connect learned knowledge and practical problem solving.

In discussing the contemporary significance of “tolerance,” Mr. Yoichiro Murakami emphasizes the importance of “not seeking only one solution,” or more positively put, “seeking less conflictual solutions” (Bunmei no naka no kagaku “Science in Civilization,” published by Seidosha, 1994). Through major disasters and the COVID-19 pandemic, we have painfully experienced the difficulty of solving problems involving multiple values and causes, which do not always align and sometimes conflict with one another. It is precisely in such a situation that the presence of “middlepersons”—who can use their expertise to analytically design a policy without seeking only one solution, and who can play leading roles in the world of tomorrow—is required. I hope to see graduates of this program playing an active role as “middlepersons” in various fields as soon as possible.



Humanity has always been confronted with various challenges. The 21st century has witnessed disasters such as the Great East Japan Earthquake, the spread of infectious diseases such as SARS and COVID-19, societal changes brought about by progress in science and technology such as artificial intelligence, and changes in the global political and economic order due to the rise of emerging countries such as China. Universities are now expected to help solve these challenges by offering academic expertise and producing capable professionals. To that end, taking an interdisciplinary approach, universities need to build models of research and human resource development that can better respond to real-world challenges so that knowledge generated by universities can contribute more directly to society.

In response to this need, this program was established to provide scientific support for the development, implementation and evaluation of policies to solve challenges. This program aims to produce researchers and highly-skilled professionals who can envision a future society with their extensive expertise and can use their collaborative problem solving, decision making, and policy making skills in any setting.

The program’s curriculum includes courses offered by collaborating graduate schools. A certificate of completion will be granted to students who have earned the credits required to complete the program.

This is a minor program that lasts up to five years from the master’s program to the doctoral program. Participating students are expected to conduct practical research to solve complex real-world problems that span different areas of specialization, using the expertise they have gained at their graduate school.

Students can pursue their research effectively through problem-based learning, fieldwork, general training in policy analysis and policy making, and tutorials given by instructors from diverse fields according to their research theme.

As clues to understanding the perspectives unique to specialized fields that are required to pursue students’ research, three agendas (areas of specialization) - “Convivial Community,” “Risk Management” and “Culture and Health” - are offered as a broad framework. Each agenda covers specific research areas.

Students are recommended to conduct research on an issue that spans multiple research areas and multiple agendas.