September 22, 2023
Professor Kohei Itoh
President, Keio University
To all new students here today at Keio University, welcome. I would also like to extend my heartfelt congratulations to the family members and others gathered for this special occasion.
As we begin, I would first like to read "The Mission of Keio University" as articulated by our founder, Yukichi Fukuzawa.
Keio Gijuku is not merely a place for academic pursuit. Its mission is to be a constant source of honorable character and a paragon of intellect and morals for the entire nation and for each member to apply this spirit to elucidate the essence of family, society, and nation. They will not only articulate this essence in words, but also demonstrate it in their actions, and by so doing make Keio a leader of society. (1896)
While I imagine there are a variety of reasons you each decided to join Keio from among all other options, I believe that this mission I introduced just now is a goal we should all share as members of this community. To be a "constant source of honorable character" and aim for the heights of becoming a "paragon of intellect and morals" to lead our society and the world forward, you must all devote yourselves wholeheartedly to your studies as graduate students. Along the way, you will make lifelong friends and research colleagues to accompany you on your journeys. I can assure you the teachers and researchers you encounter here at Keio University are all first class, and I hope that you will enjoy the days to come.
Now then, have any of you ever heard of the set of three viewpoints known as "worm's eye," "bird's eye," and "fisheye"? I first came across these ideas used together when reading The Three Eyes of Economics by Motoshige Itoh. For my speech today, I want to give my own spin on these concepts and how they relate to your lives and specializations as you begin your studies at Keio University.
The first viewpoint is that of a "worm's eye." This perspective is focused on digging deeply into your main area of interest. It requires you to dive into your specific area of study by exploring its history and most recent accomplishments. You will refine your own views and learn from publications and presentations put together by other experts. This is your "worm's eye view." Your studies and research may involve trial and error. It may not progress as planned. But you are here because you love learning. Immerse yourselves completely in research that you enjoy so much that you go "bug-eyed," almost forgetting to eat or sleep, not caring about how others view you, devoted to your pursuit of knowledge. A "worm's eye" view means to focus on developing your skills, expertise, and competencies as a specialist.
The second viewpoint is that of a "bird's eye." This perspective allows you to achieve an overall panorama in which to systematically situate yourself, positioning your studies and research within the broader spectrum of academia. The educational environment we have prepared for you here at Keio University is truly diverse. In addition to general courses and offerings through your major or graduate school, as long as you just keep your eyes and ears open, you will find an abundance of opportunities to take various special seminars, including those offered by leading figures from all over the world. Within just the past year, Keio has welcomed to its campus Jens Stoltenberg, the secretary general of NATO, Csaba Kőrösi, the president of the United Nations General Assembly, Yoon Suk Yeol, the current president of South Korea, and Sam Altman, CEO of OpenAI, the company which has released ChatGPT. Our guests all spoke to students here at Keio, engaging with them directly and answering their questions. Please make use of these kinds of opportunities to gain proficiency in other academic fields and meet people outside of your major area of study. I hope you all take flight, gaining a bird's eye view of your own research and how, in a larger sense, this perspective can further the cause of academia itself. Likewise, I hope that you use eagle-eyed precision to propose meaningful and creative research studies.
The third viewpoint is that of a "fisheye." This perspective allows one to gauge currents and trends. Unlike the static images, or “snapshots”, captured by a worm's or bird's eye lens, a fisheye allows you to perceive and ascertain evolving trends and the dynamic stream of events. Examples would include encounters and interactions with faculty and friends during seminars, classes, or at conferences, as well as knowledge of new approaches and trends discovered while traveling for leisure or for work. In other words, a fisheye perspective allows you to trace the changes humans and societies are making in their communities and the earth's environment. Because society's foundations are built on connections between people, and the dynamic interplay of these connections is what ultimately shapes society, it is essential to be able to skillfully navigate this complex ecosystem of interactions to perceive where the current is taking us. It is a viewpoint that is necessary for us to be able to tell narratives that resonate with other people: the perspective of storytellers. This is both the essence of what Fukuzawa described when he discussed "Jinkan Kosai" (society) and a crucial outlook in the path to becoming a leader.
I sincerely hope that you will all equip yourselves at Keio with specialized knowledge (through a worm's eye perspective), gain a rich cultural overview of your discipline (harnessed by a bird's eye view), and refine your abilities to read the currents of global society (by applying a fisheye lens). My message to you today is to make use of education’s universality to overcome ideological barriers and national borders and to connect with others around the world. I hope that you will collaborate with your colleagues and with communities around the world to advance our global society over the next fifty years and beyond.
My sincere congratulations to you all today.