We currently are living in an era where we face a variety of challenges we somehow have to respond to. What is asked of us when trying to address the challenges humankind is facing in the 21st century, such as global warming and life issues, including ethnic conflicts and human security, is not to increase the amount of illuminative knowledge, instead we have to be suspicious of existing knowledge in order to acquire the methods to produce new knowledge. Science education exists not only to satisfy our intellectual curiosity, but is rooted in real necessities that are closely connected with the social choices on what we should do with our future. The same holds also true for arts education. Liberal arts education has the important mission to involve itself with character formation in order to educate persons who are able to take responsible decisions and actions in society. The University of Tokyo has followed the tradition of the Dai-ichi Koto Gakko (the preparatory college under the old education system) and has been maintaining and developing liberal arts education as a Japanese National University Corporation. We have gone through numerous reforms up to the present day, pursuing a creative fusion with the advanced research at the graduate level. And now we are aiming to disseminate this liberal arts education that aims at holistic development to East Asia and to realize a common liberal arts education for East Asia through two-way educational exchanges with universities in East Asia that are mutually enriching.
The University of Tokyo’s Liberal Arts Program has put this dissemination abroad into practice and has conducted many fruitful educational exchanges in cooperation with China's prestigious school Nanjing University as its focus of development in China. Since its inception in the year 2005, LAP has set up the “Tokyo University Center for Liberal Arts Academic Exchange in Nanjing,” through which, as well as hosting a number of lectures, it has been offering the “Intensive Lecture Series on Culture and Representation” as part of the regular curriculum. The Lecture Series, primarily aimed at students in the Japanese Department, became open to all students at Nanjing University in 2015. LAP has been serving to introduce academic knowledge in new interdisciplinary fields to China, offering tremendous intellectual stimuli and receiving positive feedback.
At the same time, in 2010, the “U Tokyo-NU Joint Research” began, attending to the importance of learning experience outside the classroom. This consists primarily of fieldwork done by students from both U Tokyo and NU.
Liberal arts education has been serving as a great intellectual stimulus for young people in China and Japan beyond linguistic barriers, providing them with a new horizon of knowledge.