Based in the City of Yokohama, Faculty / Graduate School of Urban Innovation (IUI) is Japan’s first groundbreaking interdisciplinary Graduate School that integrates the humanities and sciences with city as its theme.

Appealing about “Graduate School / Faculty of Urban Innovation (IUI)”

In April 2011, Yokohama National University, which aims to be an international focal point of practical scholarship, established a new Graduate School “Graduate School / Faculty of Urban Innovation (IUI)” with “City” as its theme. This is Japan’s first Graduate School, where graduate school students specializing in architecture, art, civil engineering, international community, etc. eventually cooperate in the area of “City” while deepening the quest for their respective specializations.

IUI was established because “city” is the major challenge that mankind must address in the 21st century, such as: the worsening problems of environment and energy, due to the enormous growth of urban area; turmoil in the political, economic, and cultural values in cities around the world; problems posed by aging population, declining birth rate, and excessive computerization; exodus of population and activities from small and medium-sized cities, and resultant reduction of the city itself; and the problems of quantitative and qualitative fulfilment of livelihood and social infrastructure posed by rapid economic growth and changes in industrial structure of emerging and developing countries. We face the various challenges concerning the city, and are consequently required to achieve innovation of a city that meets these challenges.

Against this backdrop, IUI fosters growth of advanced professionals having practical skills in both, the fields such as architecture and building science and civil engineering that form the structural side (or the hardware) of the city, and fields such as humanities, social sciences, International community and culture / art that comprise the non-structural side (or the software) of the city. To that end, we provide a multifaceted research environment that facilitates cross-sectorial study of both the fields (mainly in Master’s Program). And finally, we want to be an incubator for the globally competitive next generation of leaders having the ability to take a variety of approaches in regard to the theme of urban innovation (mainly in Doctoral Program).

Message from the Dean

In April 2021, the Institute of Urban Innovation (IUI) marked its 10th anniversary. The institute was founded in April 2011 to address a range of urban issues by conducting fieldwork in the surrounding urban environments of Yokohama City and Kanagawa Prefecture, with the aim of enhancing education and research by integrating global/local and humanities/sciences ideas with established research in the humanities, social sciences, architecture, and civil engineering. The IUI is a unique two-tier organization: the master’s program, which combines studies of the humanities and sciences in two departments –– the Department of Architecture and Urban Culture and the Department of Infrastructure and Urban Society –– and the doctoral program, which has one department, the Department of Urban Innovation. Research themes related to cities such as architecture, urban culture, urban infrastructure, and an inclusive society are integrated from the viewpoint of sustainability and creativity. The goal of the master’s program is to create a variety of innovations in urban environments and to train highly specialized professionals who support the autonomous and continuous development of the city; while the doctoral program aims to develop leaders with a global and diverse perspective on urban innovation.
Today, cities face many crises and urgent challenges such as overpopulation, environmental issues, natural disasters, increasing demand and dwindling supplies of energy, declining birthrates and aging populations, and poverty. In addition, we are now facing new challenges caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, which has utterly undermined globalization, a process that is driven and supported by innovations. At the same time, however, we are trying to overcome this difficult situation by making full use of ICT. A paradigm shift has begun not only in the tangible but also in the intangible that creates new values.
Taking the next step in these turbulent times ten years after its foundation, IUI aims to further develop its research and education related to global/local values, the creation of innovation, and the integration of humanities and sciences, while keeping an eye on new social trends, such as Society 5.0 and SDGs.

Hiroshi Katsuchi, Dean of the Institute of Urban Innovation

About the Institution of Urban Innovation (IUI)

The Institute of Urban Innovation (IUI) was established because cities are the source of major issues that humankind must address in the 21st century. For example, environmental and energy problems have been aggravated as urban areas became enormous. Political, economic, and cultural values in cities around the world have been thrown into confusion. The aging population, declining birthrate, and excessive informatization in cities have created a range of new problems. At the same time, there has been an exodus in populations and activities from small- and medium-sized cities, further reducing their size and systems. In emerging and developing countries, rapid economic growth and changes in the industrial structure have caused problems regarding the quantitative and qualitative sufficiency of social and living infrastructures. Frequent major earthquakes, climate change, and pandemics such as Covid-19 have made it necessary to fundamentally rethink our ideas about what a city should be like.
The city has been a platform for nurturing human civilization. All forms of the arts, including music, poetry, literature, theater, dance, painting, photography, film, sculpture, and architecture, have been integral parts of the city since ancient times.
In addition, subcultures, including anime, pop music, and manga, have grown deeply rooted in the urban environment. To fundamentally reframe the arts and cultures through their relationship to the city leads us to create a new form of art or culture.
The city forces us face a variety of challenges, and innovations in research and practice are necessary to cope with these challenges.
Against this backdrop, the IUI develops highly skilled professionals both in fields dealing with the tangible, such as architecture and civil engineering, and the intangible, such as humanities, social sciences, international society, cultures, and arts. For this purpose, the institute provide a multifaceted research environment in which students, especially those in the master’s program, can pursue interdisciplinary studies across both kinds of fields. Our ultimate goal, especially for the doctoral course, is to develop next-generation leaders who have the ability to implement diverse approaches to create urban innovations on the global stage.

Features of the IUI’s Education Programs

Education for Interdisciplinary Research Practice That Integrates Ideas in Humanities and Sciences

The Institute of Urban Innovation offers a number of opportunities for cross-disciplinary dialogue and learning, so that students with different academic backgrounds can consider the city together.
It is important for them to develop their own research by taking an interest in other research fields even while focusing on the area of specialization. With a new perspective obtained through such interdisciplinary work, students are able to deepen their own research. This interdisciplinary research practice and attitude serves as the most important intellectual base from which to consider today’s ever-changing city and its diverse values.

Education for International Urban Studies

At the IUI, students are exposed to a variety of international discussions on cities.
In their research, students redefine what the city is from a broader perspective and deepen their arguments by incorporating results from their studies, discussing a range of topics such as the way our infrastructure should be managed and maintained as the threat of natural disasters continue to rise; interactive planning methods for development assistance; the movements of people seeking a place to exist, when the idea of nationality is more fluid in international cities; community revitalization through art, Riken Yamamoto’s concept of “Local Community Area;” new kinds of art that deepen our understanding about the earth and our bodies as the bases of the city; research on favelas and slums, and organic architecture that evokes lively activities by local people living in and around it.

Practical Education Programs in Small Groups

Every course in the Institute of Urban Innovation places lab work, fieldwork, and training in small groups at the center of its education.
The program is designed to focus on case studies and coursework with an aim to develop professionals with practical skills. This corresponds to “the policy for education at graduate schools in the new era” formulated by the Central Council for Education to create “a structured curriculum for students to develop the ability to apply the theoretical knowledge they have acquired in a practical way.”
To facilitate the enrollment of students with diverse backgrounds in the programs, we offer customized advice about their choice of courses based on their academic backgrounds and interests. In addition, we offer a range of practical courses to help students develop their career after graduation. The institute has established a clear educational structure from enrollment to graduation.

Studio Education System

The Institute of Urban Innovation offers not only classroom lecture courses but also studio work where students collaborate with each other in discussions, research, and creative activities.
The IUI’s studio education system is unique in that it features small learning units and an interactive environment to facilitate advanced, practical education, in which fellow students and teachers critique each student’s work.
In addition, the school’s studio education system with a small number of students, along with research labs, encourages students to conduct novel interdisciplinary research.
The Yokohama Graduate School of Architecture (Y-GSA), in particular, has an innovative, reformed organization in which studios are its basic research units. The school received the Education Award of the Architectural Institute of Japan as a new model for architectural education.