TMU Premium College: Enriching senior life through lifetime learning: Dr. OHASHI Takaya | TMC Talks Vol.14

This article is a transcription of a speech given by Dr. OHASHI Takaya, President of Tokyo Metropolitan University, at TMC Talks held by the Tokyo Media Center (TMC) on Aug 24.

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TMU Premium College: Enriching senior life through lifetime learning | TMC Talks Vol.XX

I would like to describe the "Premium College" run by Tokyo Metropolitan University after a brief introduction of the TMU itself.

This College allows senior people who already built their careers in their life to restart and refresh their lives by learning again.

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This is a summary of Tokyo Metropolitan University. TMU is the only public (*established by the local municipality) comprehensive university in Tokyo. There are many universities in Tokyo but they are mostly either national or private ones. As a comprehensive university TMU is the only one that is run by Tokyo Metropolitan Government. The university has seven faculties for undergraduates and they all have graduate schools, as I will show them later.

We have created and announced a "TMU Vision 2030" with the title "Exploring the future of the world through the power of scholarship in Tokyo". This describes our goals in many university subjects.

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Some key data of TMU are shown here, at the point of 2020. We have about 9,100 full-time students, and about three-quarters of them are undergraduate and the rest are graduate students. We have about 650 faculty members who are professors, associate professors, and assistant professors. They are all tenured as Japanese standard system. Staff members are about 500, and they support the research and education and sometimes take a lead in activities like external relations. We have 638 international students which correspond to around seven percent of all the students. We also have about 200 international partner universities and carry out exchange programs.

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This busy diagram describes our 7 faculties and the departments which belong to the faculties.

Our research and education cover a wide range of fields as you can see. We have Humanities and Social Sciences, Law, Economics and Business Administration, Science, Urban Environmental Sciences, and Systems Design. The latter two deal with an area of engineering but they also cover certain areas beyond that such as Tourism Science, Urban Science and Policy, or Industrial Art. We also have Health Sciences with four departments.

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This shows our research promotion scheme. We would like to push collaboration of academia, public, and industries. TMU has an "Organization for Research Promotion" which manages these external collaborations. TMU has a very close relationship with the Tokyo Metropolitan Government and many industries, and conducts joint research in many areas.

As I mentioned TMU is the only comprehensive public university in Tokyo, so this scheme is already unique and we carry out quite a few researches with direct support from the Tokyo Metropolitan Government. I would like to maintain and further tighten this good relationship with the Tokyo Metropolitan Government and industries.

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TMU has three main campuses in Tokyo.

We originally started as different universities which were integrated together in 2005.
All the undergraduate students spend their first or second year at the Minami-Osawa campus, which is the red circle in the figure.

The students of Health Sciences go to Arakawa campus, the green circle, from their second year. The students of the Systems Design go to Hino campus, the blue one, from their third year.

As the campuses are separated, we use online system for education and university meetings.

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I'm quite proud that TMU Campus is beautiful and very well maintained.
These are pictures of Minami-Osawa campus which was set up 30 years ago.

You can see spring with cherry blossoms, summer with green, autumn with colored leaves, and in winter we occasionally have snow as well. Many meetings and conferences are held at TMU and visitors all enjoy the campus.

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Campus facilities are shown here. We have a library, presentation room, audio-visual room, and a pond in front of a large lecture room. These facilities are also used by the students of the Premium College, so seniors study together with the younger students in the campus.

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Let me now move on to the subject of "Graying and Senior Life".

In the left diagram, Japan is the most advanced country in life expectancy in the world, like 84 years old. The right diagram shows the whole world's fraction of people over 65 years old, and it will increase quickly in 10 or 20 years of time to be around 15 percent. If senior people stay healthy and keep the activity it will be a big driving power for the society, since senior people have plenty of experience and knowledge. So shining senior life is a key factor for a sustainable society.

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Also, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government issued this Tokyo Sustainability Action this year. One of the strategies is a realization of a Choju society. Choju means longevity in Japanese. There is a vision for the 2040s and there are 3 items concerning Choju. Choju will be the global lexicon around this time. The average and healthy lifespan will be over 90 years old, and measures for dementia prevention will prevail.

To realize this vision, they set policy goals for 2030. Namely, they try to extend the healthy life span and promote engagement of senior citizens in social activities. It is vital that the senior people keep their mental and physical health and become powerful members of social activities.

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Now, let me introduce the TMU Premium College which is the main subject of today's talk.

The College is a joint project with the Tokyo Metropolitan Government and it opened in April 2019, about two years ago.
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This shows the outline of the Premium College. The main theme is "learn in the field of the capital, Tokyo," and we provide more than 40 lectures of many subjects such as history, sociology, environmental science, and tourism, and we also give computer literacy training. The College allows students to spend a maximum of 4 years, and as they move up the grade they carry out deeper learning of the subjects they are interested in. To enter the College, you have to be 50 years old or older, and we accept about 50 students every year. We have 3 to 4 times more applications than this capacity. The College has 10 teaching staff and 5 office staff, and we ask for help from other TMU teachers or from other institutes as adjunct lecturers to cover a wide range of subjects.

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The picture on the left is the entrance of the College's building in the Minami-Osawa campus. We also have a meeting room which is exclusively used for the College students, with the photo shown on the right.

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This is a diagram showing the curriculum. The first-year program is shown here.

Students take lectures among 43 lectures, with 8 lectures as requirements, and also they can optionally attend up to 2 lectures which are given to regular TMU students. So they join classes of young students as well. They form groups consisting of 4 to 7 students, which are supervised by a teacher and they discuss their study subjects in a weekly seminar. This will be later summarized as a final report in February at the end of the school year. There is also fieldwork, and the students visit facilities in Tokyo or places related to the lecture. Second-year goes in a similar program.

n the third- and fourth-year, students will concentrate on the research subjects rather than attending lectures.

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The photo on the left is a lecture about the Tama New town, about a 50-year-old large residential development. Actually, I gave a lecture about the universe last year and I received many questions. They were very active. We also have a seminar (the photo on the right), with a teacher and seven students in a weekly discussion.

They work on their own subjects, and report the status like what are the improvement and how they carry on the study.

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This is a fieldwork program, a special feature of the Premium College. Sometimes young students take a lead to go to the fieldwork.

One day in a week, usually Wednesday, is assigned for fieldwork and we go on a bus tour and visit various places. The left picture is an upper stream of Tama river where we have a dam and forest serving for water conservation.

The right picture is an underground water reservoir in central Tokyo under ring road No. 7. When we have torrential rains, to avoid the flood in the city area water is absorbed into this underground reservoir which has a capacity of about half a million cubic meters.

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And this is another fieldwork. Students actually visited Izu Oshima island as an overnight trip. You can see this clear cross-section of the stratum, and this shows that Tokyo offers a variety of study materials related to both big city and big nature.

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This slide shows the diversity of the study subjects of the College students. These are the final presentations. We have a historical and cultural study like Sake in the Edo era, local castles, and also western astrology history. We also have a sociological study like how we keep the education power, and other students studied natural science such as supernova explosion.

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The photo on the left is the presentation meeting held in February last year. The meeting was organized to have 3 to 4 parallel sessions, and it was actually quite active and many questions were raised from other students. Their subjects are something that they all have a certain interest in, so I feel that students really enjoy studying and it looks like they have become somewhat younger.

The photo on the right is the certificate awarding ceremony. We gave a certificate to everyone, and there are 4 students here in my seminar group last year. They look happy.

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Related to the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics this year, one College student actually participated as a volunteer leader. He was a leader of the 25 volunteers and they supported a mountain bike race at Shuzenji in the Izu Peninsula on July 26 and 27, 2021. The College students are quite keen to join social activities.

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This shows our expectations for the future of the College students. We have seniors who have potential and an interest in learning entering the TMU Premium College, and they reinforce their knowledge, skill, and motivation. After they finish the College, we expect them to undertake some service in the local community, or starting a business or hobby or even continuing for the learning. So, in this way, we hope that Tokyo will take a lead in advancing this Choju or longevity society where people can age by keeping their own lifestyles and their motivation for doing something.

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To conclude, as I said the world is going into an aging society. Keeping the quality of senior life is an important issue that everyone has to face, and Japan is in the front line of this problem. The TMU Premium College described here offers a good practice of lifetime learning along the line of co-academic activities in Tokyo. With this program, we hope to contribute to the sustainable development of the world.

Dr. OHASHI Takaya

President of Tokyo Metropolitan University. Completed a doctoral course at the Department of Physics, the University of Tokyo in 1981 (Doctor of Science), then served as a researcher at the University of Leicester (UK) for about 2 years, followed by an assistant professorship at the University of Tokyo. In 1992, he became an Associate Professor at Tokyo Metropolitan University, and then a Professor in 1998. He acted as vice president of internationalization at the University for two years from 2017; a specially appointed professor from 2019; and the president of Tokyo Metropolitan University from April 2021. He specializes in astrophysics and X-ray astronomy. He served as a director of the Astronomical Society of Japan and as a director of the Physical Society of Japan. In 1981, he won the Asahi Prize as a member of the "Hakucho" satellite team.

Some quotes have been paraphrased.
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