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From climate change to resource depletion, energy crisis, widespread poverty, financial insecurity, aging societies, rapid population growth and depopulation, biodiversity loss, and large-scale disasters—humanity in the twenty-first century faces an array of serious and perplexing issues. The future health of our socio-natural life support systems depends on forging sustainable developmental pathways, and demands a generation of leaders that couple extensive knowledge and intensive specialization with a critical perspective and strong moral compass.

The University of Tokyo has been challenging the complex issues related to global sustainability through transdisciplinary and holistic approaches (see table). Since establishing the Integrated Research System for Sustainability Science (IR3S) and the Graduate Program in Sustainability Science (GPSS) in particular, The University of Tokyo has become a widely-recognized leader in advancing sustainability research and in practically applying research findings through collaborative partnerships beyond the university.

In 2012, GPSS started a new education project "Graduate Program in Sustainability Science—Global Leadership Initiative (GPSS-GLI)" to develop individuals with extensive knowledge, intensive specialization, and ethically sound principles—the next generation of global leaders.

Evolution of Sustainability Research/Education at The University of Tokyo

Alliance for Global Sustainability (AGS) established (http://en.ags.dir.u-tokyo.ac.jp)
Youth Encounter on Sustainability (YES) started
Intensive Program on Sustainability (IPoS) started (http://www.ipos.k.u-tokyo.ac.jp)
Integrated Research System for Sustainability Science (IR3S) established as a research institute in The University of Tokyo (http://en.ir3s.u-tokyo.ac.jp)
International Alliance for Research Universities (IARU) established (http://www.iaruni.org)
Transdisciplinary Initiative for Global Sustainability (TIGS) established (http://en.tigs.ir3s.u-tokyo.ac.jp)
Graduate Program in Sustainability Science (GPSS) established in the Graduate School of Frontier Sciences (GSFS), jointly operated by the six departments within the Division of Environmental Studies:
・Natural Environmental Studies
・Ocean Technology, Policy, and Environment
・Environment Systems
・Human and Engineered Environmental Studies
・Socio-Cultural Environmental Studies
・International Studies
International academic journal Sustainability Science (Springer) launched
Asian Program for Incubation of Environmental Leaders (APIEL) started
First International Conference on Sustainability Science (ICSS) hosted by IR3S. Since then, IR3S annually hosts ICSS as well as its Asian platform ICSS-Asia.
Sustainability Science Consortium (SSC) established (http://ssc-g.net)
International Society for Sustainability Science (ISSS) established (http://www.sussci.org)
GPSS-GLI launched