The GSI Kick-Off Symposium

held on (Fri) 21 & (Sat) 22 January 2022

Welcome Remarks
Director of Gl-CoRE / President, Hokkaido University
Professor Kiyohiro HOUKIN

Good afternoon, good evening, and good morning to the distinguished speakers and to all our international participants. As the Director of the Hokkaido University Global Institution for Collaborative Research and Education and the President of Hokkaido University, I would like to extend my sincere appreciation to you for attending this Kick-off Symposium of the Global Station for Indigenous Studies and Cultural Diversity.

Hokkaido University, founded in 1876, was formerly the Sapporo Agricultural College, Japan’s first university to award bachelor’s degrees. It later became an imperial university, and then a national university in 1947. In 2026, Hokkaido University will celebrate its historic 150th anniversary. As we approach this important milestone, Hokkaido University has set forth a strategy for the near future: “To become a Hokkaido University that contributes to the resolution of global issues”.

Hokkaido University established the Global Institution for Collaborative Research and Education, or GI-CoRE in short, under the direct control of the President as an organization in which world-class faculty members are brought together from within and outside the university to promote international collaborative research and education, taking advantage of the university’s strengths and distinctive features. Under the GI-CoRE system, research and education hubs called ‘Global Stations’ are implemented to address specific research areas. The principle is that faculty members conduct intensive research and education activities during their Global Station’s finite implementation period of 5 years.

Since the establishment of GI-CoRE in 2014, 6 Global Stations have so far completed their five-year period. These Global Stations include: the Global Station for “Quantum Medical Science and Engineering”, “Zoonosis Control”, “Food, Land and Water Resources”, “Soft Matter”, “Big Data and Cybersecurity”, and “Arctic Research”. Each of these now continue their international collaborative research as GI-CoRE Cooperating Hubs. Currently, there are 2 Global Stations in operation: the Global Station for “Biosurfaces and Drug Discovery” and, the Global Station for Indigenous Studies and Cultural Diversity”, which commenced in April 2021and is holding this kick-off symposium today.

Hokkaido University has articulated four basic philosophies of education and research, namely the “Frontier Spirit”, “Practical Learning”, “All-Round Education” and “Global Perspectives”. In line with the university’s mission, we believe in taking on the role as a center for the “creation, transmission, and application of knowledge” by showing our “unique total capability” through organically combining the strengths of a comprehensive university. To fulfill the mission, Hokkaido University will carry out its social responsibility by fostering a feeling of unity while respecting diversity and aiming to create a diverse society. For this purpose, it is essential to have an educational and research environment that is open to diversity based on free, fair, and impartial discussions, where each and every member of the university community respects various values, experiences and opinions. With this in mind, and with the aim of further raising awareness, Hokkaido University declared the “Hokkaido University’s Promotion of Diversity and Inclusion” on December 1st, 2021.

Today’s globalization of the information and economic sectors is homogenizing human society in specific areas. On the other hand, advanced means of transportation have shortened distances and travel times, and there are more and more opportunities for contact with cultures with which we have never had contact before. Contact between different cultural groups sometimes creates new inventions and vitality, and contributes to the formation of a prosperous society. However, it also brings about the collision of different cultures and the creation of exclusive behaviors. Cultural diversity, as well as the diversity of biological species, is a precious human heritage, where a single species, humans, adapted to diverse environments and built a rich society. As each of us is an independent individual with our own personality, it is required that we build a culturally diverse society based on pluralistic values, where we recognize our differences, understanding and respecting each other by learning about different cultures.

Universities, as places where students and teachers from various countries come together, can be considered key social entities that embody cultural diversity. In the past, it was not a building or space for learning that a medieval university referred to. It was students and teachers who gathered there to learn; universities were people themselves. The essence of today’s university still includes every individual who makes up the university, and it is an inseparable part of society. The knowledge produced at universities must enrich people’s lives and livelihoods, both technologically and ideologically.

As Hokkaido University is in the land of Hokkaido, where the Ainu people, an indigenous people, have nurtured their history, we believe that we are in a position to lead and promote international collaborative research on cultural diversity. We hope that this Global Station will bring together outstanding researchers who lead the world’s research on indigenous studies and cultural diversity and promote international collaborative research which aims to explore the nature of cultural diversity as a source of creativity.

Thank you for your attention.

Commemorative Lectures
I. Towards a Global History of the Commons

Professor Chris GOSDEN
Director of the Institute of Archeology, University of Oxford
GSI Overseas Unit member

II. Reflecting on i(I)ndigeneity in the Age of the Anthropocene: A European Perspective

Professor Peter JORDAN
Department of Archeology, Lund University
GSI Overseas Unit member

III. Indigenous Studies and Anthropology: Future Pathways and Partnerships

Professor Joe WATKINS
University of Arizona
GSI Overseas Unit member


Hokkaido University Website “GSI Kick-off symposium held virtually, attended by researches and students from 23 universities around the world