ISS Program Leader
Professor, Ph.D (Engineering)
Institute of Systems and Information Engineering
University of Tsukuba

Takashi Matsushima

The University of Tsukuba (UT) has been selected for a Type A: Exchange Program under the "Inter-University Exchange Project: Support for Creation of Inter-University Exchanges with US Universities using COIL / VE style education," a project of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) in AY2023 under the title of "Empowering International Startup Talent to Create an Inclusive Smart Society."

The "super-smart society" that is the goal of Society 5.0 proposed by the Cabinet Office is an "inclusive" society; i.e., a society in which all people can live equally and comfortably without being restricted by various attributes such as age, gender, region, or language. The concept of "inclusion" is becoming increasingly important in the United States, a multiracial nation, and other countries around the world. In the US, the role of "social startups," which aim at solving various social problems and achieving both economic and social values, as well as top-down measures from the government, is attracting attention to realize such a society. In this program, students from the University of Tsukuba and Ohio State University will participate from all fields, collaborate to propose innovative ideas that will change society, and support the implementation of these ideas in society with the involvement of Tsukuba City, the city of Columbus, and private companies, under the keyword "inclusive smart society." The goal of the program is to develop international social startup talent to solve global issues from the bottom up, and at the same time, build a society where diverse people can coexist.

The realization of an inclusive smart society requires comprehensive knowledge in an extremely wide range of fields, including social sciences, physical education, art, science, and engineering. In addition, for international social startups, language skills, leadership skills, and knowledge of entrepreneurship are also necessary. To cultivate such abilities and knowledge, the University of Tsukuba will launch three Multidisciplinary Subjects (Introduction to Inclusive Smart Society I, II, and Inclusive Smart Society PBL) in AY2024. Furthermore, we are also planning to hold a summer festival during the summer vacation to provide a place for online communication between students of the University of Tsukuba and OSU.

In particular, in the "Inclusive Smart Society PBL" class, students' ideas are evaluated by advisors from local governments and private companies and then refined toward realization, and excellent proposals in the final presentation are supported for local exchanges and social implementation at OSU.

As a multiracial nation, the United States is well advanced in the concept of an inclusive society and is also a leader in startups that create new social values. Ohio State University, one of the largest universities in the US, is the partner university for this project. OSU has a track record of implementing the Smart City Project with the city of Columbus, where the campus is located, and has many points in common with the University of Tsukuba, which is collaborating with Tsukuba City and the Smart City Council. The University of Tsukuba and OSU have already interacted in many fields, and this project will enhance existing ties and create synergies in education and research.

We hope that students will participate in this project and acquire the knowledge and abilities to create a new future with their own hands.

We would also like to invite local governments and companies interested in the project to participate in various ways. We look forward to your cooperation in realizing a better society.