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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

GraSPPers Voice

You cannot change a society you don't understand

Selene Lopez (from Ecuador)

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What was your purpose in enrolling in GraSPP?

A program in public policy is needed for every country, regardless of its circumstances. I chose to enroll in GraSPP because of the desire for change. My motivation was to understand society and enact change. I recognize that building effective institutions is a process that spans decades. Change itself can be slow and unpredictable, especially in regions marked by conflict. Despite these challenges, it’s crucial to start somewhere, and GraSPP was my point of start. I arrived with numerous dreams and ideas about how society could be improved, and GraSSP has provided me with the direction and tools to pursue them.

What was attractive or stimulating about GraSPP?

I enrolled in GraSSP because of its heterogeneity. GraSPP offers the opportunity to study a diverse range of subjects, including energy and climate change, econometrics, and strategic communications. The program is exceptionally well-structured, allowing for a comprehensive understanding of various fields. With experts dedicated to each of these contemporary global issues, GraSPP offers comprehensive education. Additionally, its international focus ensures that professors are well-versed in regions worldwide, including Latin America, Europe, the United States, and Asia. This holistic perspective provides a distinct advantage for studying here, allowing students to see the bigger picture. 

Please share your memorable experiences/courses

I was pleasantly surprised during my public policy and politics courses when Professor Kentaro Maeda discussed democratization processes in Chile and Brazil, as well as gender quotas in Ecuador and Colombia. Similarly, Professor Kazuto Suzuki provided examples of industrialization, particularly with Import Substitution Industrialization (ISI) in Latin America. These instances demonstrated the program’s emphasis on global experiences rather than adhering to a fixed approach to development. One of the most memorable aspects of my experience was the challenges faced by students like me, who may not have a strong background in economics when taking subjects like microeconomics, macroeconomics, and statistics. The fact that some of these subjects are compulsory adds to the difficulty, but overcoming these challenges has been a valuable part of my educational journey.

Another memorable aspect of my experience has been the opportunity to interact with people from diverse cultures, including Myanmar, the Philippines, Europe, and Africa. Through these interactions, I’ve discovered both commonalities and shared challenges in our experiences with public policy. Engaging with such a diverse group has significantly broadened my understanding. The exposure to people from different backgrounds and cultures has dramatically changed the way I think about politics and government.

What are the advantages of studying in Japan?

Studying public policy in Japan offers more than just a disciplined and orderly educational setting. It guarantees students like me access to a globally recognized high-quality education. Japan’s position as a leader in innovation across sectors such as technology, healthcare, and environmental sustainability is particularly noteworthy and something that becomes evident during one’s time here.

What has GraSPP meant to your life?

GraSPP has been an awakening for me. While pursuing a master’s degree in London, I gained valuable knowledge, but here, it’s like seeing the entire forest, not just a single tree. It’s been an awakening, allowing me to develop skills I didn’t realize I had, gaining firsthand knowledge, and learning to tackle contemporary issues. It has truly been a pivotal moment in my career journey. Now, I know where to go and what steps to take to pursue meaningful change. GraSPP has equipped me with the necessary tools and knowledge to make a difference.

Advice for the latent students

I highly recommend that students join and trust the process at GraSPP. Embrace fields that may be unfamiliar to you, explore subjects outside your comfort zone, and seek connections between them. For example, if you have a political background, explore energy; if your background is economics, delve into international relations. It’s the holistic approach and making connections between different disciplines that will truly enrich your knowledge. Push yourself out of your comfort zone and embrace the opportunity to expand your horizons.