Our Philosophies

Hokkaido University is a leading comprehensive university that places importance on its graduate schools. The university started out in 1876 as the Sapporo Agricultural College, the first modern academic institute in Japan. During its long history, the college was promoted to an Imperial University and then flourished after the creation of the new university system. Over this period, we have declared and cultivated our basic philosophies of education and research, namely the “Frontier Spirit,” “Global Perspectives,” “All-round Education” and “Practical Learning.” In order to meet the demands of society and to move ahead as a part of the National University Corporation, Hokkaido University needs to formulate a long term goal for developing the basis of knowledge generation, dissemination and application in the new century, while still reconfirming our basic philosophies and recognizing our accountability to society.


Frontier Spirit is a term to describe the ideal that each student and staff member of our university should tackle the problems of their generation and become pioneers by taking the untrodden path towards the future. This basic philosophy originated from the words “lofty ambition,” which were uttered by Dr. W. S. Clark during the opening ceremony of the Sapporo Agricultural College and has served as the backbone of Hokkaido University for over a century. The Frontier Spirit of the 21st century calls for us to address both the shifts in the academic paradigm and contemporary problems constantly challenging humankind. Hokkaido University, founded on the principle of academic freedom, aims to promote world-class research to solve the problems confronting humankind through the flexible organization of its graduate schools and networks. This will lead us to remarkable developments in research and education, while promoting creative research in both theoretical and applied studies.

With the introduction of western customs and scientific technology, and lectures by foreign teachers, from the beginning the Sapporo Agricultural College opened its mind to diverse directions. Since then, our university has played an active role in placing its graduates in positions overseas. It is needless to say that we must continue developing personnel who can contribute to an international society by cultivating a better understanding of other cultures, developing more self-awareness of our own culture, and by improving communication skills in foreign languages through enriching our liberal arts education. Hokkaido University strives to encourage its students and staff to acquire “Global Perspectives” and to contribute to the development of an international society by creating more opportunities for studying and researching abroad, further encouraging the acceptance of foreign students and researchers, and by promoting cultural and social exchanges with people around the world.

Sapporo Agricultural College was established not only for training agricultural experts, but also to provide a rich and well-rounded education to cultivate highly intellectual students and personnel. Its success is apparent through the outstanding ideologists and literary figureheads who graduated from the college, such as Kanzo Uchimura, Shigetaka Shiga, Inazo Nitobe, and Takeo Arishima. The philosophy of an all-round education has been observed through the tradition of ensuring students receive a liberal arts education so that they are able to make sound decisions and deep insights utilizing their professional knowledge. Furthermore, Hokkaido University seeks to develop the skills needed to understand and respect human rights and have basic abilities to accurately respond to the demands of society. Students are encouraged to cultivate their spirit of freedom and independence and are encouraged to establish an autonomous identity so that they may acquire a deep appreciation of humanity and a high level of intellect.

The philosophy of Practical Learning was established as the Sapporo Agricultural College was overcoming hardships and developing into the comprehensive university it is today. The philosophy of Practical Learning signifies two different meanings. Firstly, practical learning entails research, which is a means of creating and promoting universal learning in the real world. Secondly, practical learning puts emphasis on returning the fruits of research to society by placing importance on the application and practical use of the research. The botanical research conducted by Kingo Miyabe and the research on snow conducted by Ukichiro Nakaya, carried out in the vast wilderness of Hokkaido, are both outstanding examples of discoveries bringing us closer to understanding some of the universal truth in our immediate environment. Substantial research has also been developed in cooperation with local industries. Hokkaido University endeavors to return the fruits of research to local, national and international industries. Doing so furthermore promotes collaboration between academia-industry-government, and encourages students to pursue the philosophy of Practical Learning – the aim of which is to promote the creation of universal truth in the real world and to engage in research utilizing Hokkaido’s unique characteristics. Furthermore, Hokkaido University aspires to develop leading experts and professionals, and to support those pursuing higher education.


Updated on   May 01, 2017