Launching the PhD Professionals: Gateway to Success in Frontier Asia Program
President of Japan Science and Technology Agency,
and former President of Nagoya University: Michinari Hamaguchi, MD, PhD
Born in 1951. Graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in medicine from the School of Medicine, Nagoya University; obtain a Ph.D. degree in medicine from the Graduate School of Medicine at Nagoya University. After obtaining his doctorate, he worked as a Professor at the Pathological Control Research Facility (School of Medicine, Nagoya University), before becoming the facility’s Director. He then became Dean of the Graduate School of Medicine, and served as the President of Nagoya University from 2009 to 2015 before becoming the President of Japan Science and Technology Agency in 2015. He specializes in cancer biology, cancer biochemistry and cellular biology. His affiliations include: Vice President, Japan Association of National Universities; and a chairperson for Councils for Science and Technology (Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology). He has received honorary doctorate degrees from the University of Gdańsk, Sungkyunkwan University, and the Mongolian University of Science and Technology. He is a councilor of the Japanese Cancer Association and of the Japanese Society of Virology.
I am delighted to announce on the launch of this new program for Leading Graduate Schools, titled PhD Professionals: Gateway to Success in Frontier Asia.
Nagoya University’s Academic Charter establishes the foundation of the university, embodies our commitment to “free and vibrant” academic culture, as well as the responsibility of the university “to contribute to the enlightenment of humanity and its society and the prosperity of global industry” by “spearheading advanced and innovative research activities, and through nurturing and fostering new generations of talents capable of exercising leadership in the global arenas”. Furthermore, we have pushed forward with measures as part of the Hamaguchi Plan, an initiative I put in place at the start of my presidency, in order to transform Nagoya University into a world- class institution. These measures include the enhancement for the quality and diversity of the education we provide, the promotion of Global Center of Excellence Programs and the Global 30 Project, both of which are designed to encourage Japan’s leading universities to internationalize their degree programs further. Common to all these measures is of their importance in achieving one of the university’s most essential goals, namely the establishment of a more accessible environment as an educational institution of the highest global standards.
At the same time, the Nagoya University focuses on providing more educational / scholastic opportunities to young graduates and researchers, as another key issue alongside the internationalization of the university itself. Our action plans include career development programs, such as the Young Leaders Cultivation Program, and the B-Jin Business Capacity Development Center, designed to assist postdocs and graduate students to find careers in industry and government. These initiatives demonstrate our commitment both to providing young researchers with outstanding educational opportunities and to supporting postdocs and students to excel in the next stage of their careers.
The “Gateway to Success” Program has been carefully designed to foster talented young graduates to take on the challenge in planning strategies for the advancement of Japan and the rest of the world in the coming years. The program will encourage graduate students to work beyond the traditional delineations of graduate schools, to work together with international students to take a hands-on approach in learning about the diversity and enriched cultural history of Asia as well as the reality of life today in its many countries. Eventually, our apprentices will graduate the program as experts in Frontier Asia, uniquely equipped to take up roles as regional leaders. As part of the program, it is pivotal to educate our young fellows about entrepreneurship and English language skills necessary for today’s global market. For the purpose, we will have North Carolina Ambition Camps at NU Tech, an office of the university established in North Carolina in the U.S.
I look forward to welcoming highly motivated and spirited students into this exciting new program.
Program Coordinator: Prof. Naoshi Sugiyama, PhD
Born in 1961. Earned his undergraduate degree in physics from the Faculty of Science and Engineering, Waseda University; his master’s degree from the Graduate School of Science and Engineering, Waseda University; and his PhD in science from the Graduate School of Science, Hiroshima University. Served as Associate Professor at the Graduate School of Science, Kyoto University, and as Professor at the Division of Theoretical Astronomy, National Astronomical Observatory of Japan. Currently Professor (astrophysics), Graduate School of Science, Nagoya University, and Member, Education and Research Council (Nagoya University). Winner of the Astronomical Society of Japan’s Hayashi Chushiro Prize and the JSPS Prize for his work in theoretical astrophysics, specifically the elucidation of the physical processes of cosmic microwave background radiation. Member of the Science Council of Japan.
The increased emphasis on graduate education in the 1990s has led to dramatic growth in population of graduate students at large universities; and Nagoya University is no exception to the phenomenon. Naturally, the number of graduates with doctorate degrees has increased and so is the number of post-docs (hereafter PhDs) wishing to gain positions at universities and research institutes. However, they are often unable to find such opportunities as the number of positions is limited.
To make matters worse, research and educational institutions are forced to reduce further the number of teaching and research staffs. As a result, PhDs today are having a very difficult time in finding permanent jobs.
Unlike graduates with master’s degrees, PhDs trying to find positions in industry or government are facing many unique issues. Industry and government sectors are not actively seeking to hire PhDs, and even if they do hire PhDs, in most cases the doctoral degree is not appreciated. For example, PhDs would typically receive the same salary as an employee with only a master’s degree.
PhDs are fundamentally intelligent and possess excellent problem-solving skills. They are often misunderstood as being interested only in a highly specialized field of study and as having no transferrable skills. In reality, however, PhDs are high-caliber think-tanks who can think flexibly on their feet and have a high potential for success.
Not only industries and government are to blame for the reason why PhDs are facing difficulties in excelling outside of academia. A major part of the blame lies within graduate studies in universities, which are so polarized that they have long been geared towards training future colleagues and successors in academia.
The PhD Professionals: Gateway to Success in Frontier Asia Program provides an education that is necessary for PhDs to succeed not only as professors of an academic field, but as professionals who can contribute to multifaceted sectors of society. Specifically, the program offers a variety of courses designed to develop five “spoke” competencies: (1) the ability to identify and solve problems independently, (2) communication and management skills, (3) the ability to comprehend the international context and cultural differences, (4) the ability to grasp methodology and purpose of studies in academic fields outside of his/her own, and (5) mastery in debate and self-expression skills. Along with these special “spoke” courses, participating students will receive “core” graduate education from each respective graduate school to complement their regular Ph.D. (or its equivalent) curriculum.
The ultimate goal for the PhD Professionals: Gateway to Success in Frontier Asia Program is to foster PhD professionals to attain a high-level of skills from both “core” and “spoke” programs, and to nurture them to become creative and insightful thinkers.
The natural stage for PhD professionals to engage in active, leadership roles will be on the global stage far beyond Japan. Particularly we are focused on those Asian countries with rapidly emerging economic growth. We collectively refer to these countries as the Frontier Asia countries, which include Mongolia, Uzbekistan, Vietnam and Cambodia (in which Nagoya University has established a regional center). The Frontier Asia countries are adjacent to countries that have already achieved dramatic growth, such as China, South Korea, and Taiwan; and the Frontier Asia countries have started experiencing the growth of their own. Collaborations with these countries are essential for Japan’s economic growth strategy. The PhD Professionals: Gateway to Success in Frontier Asia Program aims to raise young talents to play active roles in Frontier Asia countries by offering training sessions and opportunities for internships in these countries so that they are ready to take on their jobs in these countries thatthey understand so well. The program also actively recruits international students from the Frontier Asia countries.We look forward to the day in which the graduates from the PhD professional program – equipped with better understanding of their cultures, customs and daily lives in the Frontier Asia – will take on leadership roles in these Frontier Asia countries and wherever their final destinations would be in the global society.