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東京大学公共政策大学院 | GraSPP / Graduate School of Public Policy | The university of Tokyo

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Mission as a PhD student in GraSPP

Rei Asada (from Japan) Class of 2014

With several years working experience in the field of development and aid projects under Japanese government schemes in different countries, I joined GraSPP for a Master’s degree to advance my knowledge and to continue working effectively in the field of development and aid projects. However, the turning point came to me at the end of my 1st year in GraSPP. I took a class called “Development Studies” and it taught me the importance of seeing phenomena by asking the right questions rather than giving the correct answer.

This exciting experience gave me a spark and led me to the academic world. While working on my Master’s thesis, I closely examined the Japanese rural areas, which face post-development challenges such as depopulation, ageing, abandoned natural recourses and shrinking communities. This is the critical issue that all Asian countries will have to address sooner or later. My research interest for my Ph.D. is about reevaluating rural development and urbanization. In the past, rural development pushed populations into urban areas and successfully developed urban areas but rural areas were left behind and kept underdeveloped. The more development projects come into rural areas, the faster they push urbanization instead of developing rural areas themselves. I believe that GraSPP’s program provides practical training and resources that will help me to be a professional with skills and strength working with people from diverse cultures and ethnicities.

However, the reality is that there is a typical idea that a “Ph.D. holder is useless in society”, and it may be true if we do not contribute to a real society through sticking to our own narrow interests. Our mission is to challenge this social norm as a GraSPP Ph.D. student and I believe the faculty members share the same ideas. We are here to connect social issues and academics and be critical positively for both areas, and create meaningful questions for society. GraSPP is a frontier for this and our challenging journey has only just started.

My research project focuses on rural development policy in Sri Lanka. I have been conducting field survey. Photos with my local family in Matale, Sri Lanka.

Indeed, we eat rice and curry every day. No exceptions! My right hand always smells wonderful curry taste.