Message from the Dean
Dean, Hokkaido University Public Policy School (HOPS)
Fostering professionals taking on the challenges in today’s turbulent society and designing a road map to resolve various issues
Hokkaido University Public Policy School (HOPS), founded in April 2005, celebrated the 10th anniversary of its foundation at the end of March 2015. During this period, more than 300 graduates from HOPS joined the central and local government offices, media outlets, and private businesses and other organizations and have played active roles in a wide range of fields. Reflecting on the last 10 years, it is certain that HOPS has finally established strong ties with our community.
Since its foundation, HOPS has pursued the educational principles of “fusion of the humanities and sciences” and “creativity and application.” This is because traditional higher education that focused on specialized fields has resulted in a vertically divided society, where more and more people feel stagnation amid the changing times. In light of these circumstances, we have endeavored to provide systematized curricula in academic fields that are necessary for public policy formulation and implementation by transcending the fields of the humanities and sciences. HOPS provides diverse subjects and students can take courses offered at other graduate schools as well. Some classes are taught jointly by faculty members with humanities and science backgrounds. To foster students’ creativity and ability to apply ideas in practical situations, we work to ensure collaboration between academics and practitioners as demonstrated by the diversity of our faculty, who consist of not only scholars, but also people working at the front lines of their respective fields. We also offer many subjects that provide students with practical experience in their fields of study. We believe that these characteristics of our curriculum are effective as demonstrated by the feedbacks we have received from HOPS alumni that they had been inspired by discussions on the same themes among students from humanities and science backgrounds, and that they had intuitively learned about the real society from mature students with experience as working members of society.
Against the backdrop of economic growth in Asia and other developments, the international community is facing various challenges, such as resource and food shortages and environmental problems. Regional conflicts are also on the rise. Domestically, Japan is facing issues including a widening income gap, rapidly aging population and decreasing birthrate. Among the different regions in Japan, economic stagnation is notable in Hokkaido, which is highly dependent on energy. Given this situation, expectations are higher than ever for public policy to design a road map to resolve these problems from a glocal perspective.
After the initial decade of solidification of its foundation, HOPS has now entered a period to create new meanings of its existence through its efforts to solve various challenges. We hope that students with a strong awareness of current affairs and the innovative capabilities to respond to changes will join HOPS to become practitioners with broad perspectives.
Opening New Paths for the Policy Professional
The Time for Public Policy Graduate Schools
Many major universities are currently establishing graduate schools of public policy. How can we explain this trend? And, what sets HOPS apart?
Traditionally, graduate schools of public policy have sought to educate students aiming to become civil servants or those already working as public officials. Such training, of course, is important. It is still imperative to prepare personnel with high-level expertise to formulate and implement policy in the public sphere in this age of dramatic age-now that Japan has achieved economic parity with Europe and the United States and is facing many new policy challenges at home and abroad such as a falling birthrate and aging population, regional wars, and environmental degradation. These challenges partially explain the recent establishment of many graduate schools of public policy.
HOPS believes that the age when policy formulation was monopolized by government elites is over. With the advance of decentralization, the ability of government officials to independently determine policy is over. In a time of globalization and diversification, non-profit organizations and private companies are an important policy source and partnerships between public and private institutions a must. HOPS is dedicated to training a diverse group of policy professionals to meet these challenges.
Our mission can be concretely explicated through the following three keywords:
Our Three Guiding Concepts
A Fusion of the Humanities and Sciences
New policy challenges demand new approaches. For example, imagine new public works projects that take into consideration environmental impact. Envision barrier-free city planning. To successfully accomplish such tasks, intellectual cooperation among different fields, such as political science, finance, and urban engineering, is critical. HOPS brings together schools such as Law, Economics, and Engineering to create a fusion of the humanities and sciences. We require the acquisition of expertise in multiple areas of study.
Partnerships in Policy Studies
New policy challenges demand not only crossover among various fields, but partnerships among many different policy formulators, such as government bodies, non-profit organizations, and private companies. HOPS is a place to learn about policy formulation in this age of partnership from a variety of perspectives. Our faculty is replete with instructors who are involved with actual policy formulation on the front lines of government, media, and business.
Creativity and Application
New policy challenges demand a rich imagination fueled by historical and specialized understanding, and experience in the application of theory into policy. HOPS encourages learning in subjects such as philosophy and history that facilitate a long view beyond shorter periods of transition. We nurture concrete skills such as negotiation, presentation, policy paper composition, and language training.