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Greetings from Presidents

Hokkaido University

Kiyohiro HOUKIN
Kiyohiro HOUKIN President
Hokkaido University

Upon the beginning of my presidency at Hokkaido University (HU), it is my great pleasure to co-host this year’s joint symposium with Seoul National University (SNU), and distinct honour to welcome two prestigious partner universities of ours, Ghent University and the University of Melbourne as special guests in the opening of this virtual symposium.

The history of this symposium dates back to 1998, and this has been developed as the longest, widest and most consistent framework to hold a research symposium for both universities. As the initial host of this year’s symposium, HU spent some time to consider whether to postpone this year’s event for one year, however, recognised there are many researchers who would like to keep ‘connected’ to their counterparts of SNU even via screens yet through an university-wide event, and happily announced the first online symposium of its history. Of course, there are not a few opinions to remind me of values of the usual on-site event for academics, students and administrative staff. Some professors told that the combination of a formal plenary session and satellite sessions by departments naturally introduces undergraduates what an international academic conference is like, how to get interacted with other research disciplines, and gives young researchers an opportunity for poster presentations, academic interactions and discoveries in various layers through the annual two-day event, with an eminent partner university in a neighbour country.

Over two decades spent on the symposium framework are a solid foundation for our university-wide partnership. Joint papers are published mostly in the fields of medicine and veterinary medicine, earth science, astrophysics, engineering, while joint lectures, workshops and open seminars are actively co-organised in science education for secondary schools, environmental health science and media communication.

Following research and educational exchange between two universities, the 20th symposium launched a week staff mobility programme for administrative offices. After the 21st symposium on universities’ libraries and museums/galleries, SNU and HU libraries concluded an agreement for their facility-based collaboration. New research sessions on dentistry and nuclear engineering have recently joined. Despite the storm observed on the diplomatic relationship of two countries in recent years, academic collaboration of two universities has been and will be developed. Even after two decades, the partnership between two universities proves there is much potential to be explored, to be learnt together, and to be realised, and that remains stable in a world of uncertainty. This year’s virtual experience shall be another step to expand possibilities for further cooperation for us.

Seoul National University

Se-Jung OH
Se-Jung OH President
Seoul National University

On behalf of the Seoul National University (SNU), I would like to thank President Kiyohiro Houkin and his staff for co-hosting the 23rd Hokkaido University (HU) -Seoul National University Joint Symposium. Also, I would like to send my warmest greetings to all our researchers and staff who are participating in this year’s first virtual joint symposium. Our 23rd meeting demonstrates how solid the ties of our two universities are, as our relationship spans more than two decades now and COVID 19 could not stop us.

Since 1998, with joint efforts from two institutions, we have been able to make a stable platform for research collaboration between SNU and HU. Not only that, through annual plenary sessions, we have been discussing the major issues and challenges that universities face, to seek for a better solution for ourselves. Furthermore, using this firm network, we have extended our participants from researchers to our administrative staff, so that we can share our skills in managing the higher education institution and move forward together.

In this year’s symposium, we expect to do things in a new way. A special forum will be held virtually in place of the plenary session, with the theme, “Universities’ challenges in the Peri to Post-COVID-19 World.” There will be a discussion among SNU, HU, and invited partner universities from other regions, as it is an extremely crucial issue at hand not only for Korea and Japan but for the world society. Senior university leaders will come together, share ideas, and will strive to find a better solution for all university members in this whirlwind of uncertainty.

Furthermore, we will continue supporting satellite sessions, so that more participants can make engagement through the online platform. Although this may not fully substitute the face-to-face interaction, I am sure that we can still communicate, influence others, make decisions, solve problems, and strengthen our relationships with our members’ willingness to engage.

It may be overwhelming for all of us to adapt ourselves to the new way, in every aspect of our lives. However, I have a belief that we will find a new opportunity after this chapter. Korea and Japan are using the same two characters for the word ‘Crisis’. One character stands for danger; the other for opportunity. Like the word demonstrates, SNU and HU will recognize the opportunity out of the crisis and continue our way to make a better world through education and research. Thank you.