President’s Welcome

Think, act and challenge the future

Our world is undergoing a sea of change due to the rapid advance of globalization and growth of the internet, enabling people in any corner of the world to instantly connect with others and obtain information.


The phenomena and changes associated with humans, society and nature occur against backdrops involving a myriad of diverse conditions. The complexity of these advances cannot be simply “unlocked,” particularly when they are closely interconnected. It is difficult, perhaps impossible, to study or solve such problems in the context of conventional learning, because circumstances can change quickly and drastically.  Coping with this reality requires an inquisitive mind willing to investigate, understand and unravel the underlying nature and causes of changes and occurrences. In short, individuals need both the ability to think and act autonomously.


“To think” is to question the existing values and methods, and to change or even destroy them if necessary. To truly think, in other words, one cannot be bound by convention. Universities are special because they are places where one can freely engage in the act of thinking. In the over 140 years since the 1876 founding of its predecessor, the Sapporo Agricultural College, Hokkaido University has helped students awaken their autonomy and independence. This is achieved by encouraging them to venture into unexplored areas of learning; to develop an international mindset and flexible approach to diversity; to cultivate themselves in a broad range of areas that will help build character; and to pursue meaningful research so they can grasp the essence of things and use their learning for practical purposes. Following in the spirit of its founding, Hokkaido University strives to be a place where all students can find and foster their innate potential and grasp what their true talents are, so they can develop the ability to think and foster an independent spirit to take on the challenges of the future.


It takes tremendous courage – in addition to an independent mind and autonomous spirit – to venture into an untrodden field. “Boys, be ambitious,” exhorted William S. Clark, the first vice principal of Sapporo Agricultural College, when he departed Sapporo after a short, 8-month stay. In keeping with the Frontier Spirit espoused by Dr. Clark, I would like to make Hokkaido University an educational hub where students and faculty work together to intensely learn and create new wisdom – with the ultimate goal of solving the world’s problems and contributing to the happiness of mankind through a spirit of independence and autonomy.


Toyoharu Nawa

President, Hokkaido University

Updated on   September 14, 2017

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