A red Japanese arch standing on a shady forest path.
Centre for the Study of Global Japan, Munk School

Newton Foundation makes lead gift to the Centre for the Study of Global Japan

The gift helps to launch a new education policy and innovation initiative

Richard and Satoko Ingram
U of T alumni Richard and Satoko Ingram, founders of the Newton Foundation

The Newton Foundation, founded by U of T alumni Richard and Satoko Ingram, has pledged $200,000 to help launch the Initiative for Education Policy and Innovation at the Centre for the Study of Global Japan, located at U of T’s Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy. The new program aims to support education reform in Japan and beyond through the promotion of evidence-based policy initiatives with global impact.

“We are deeply appreciative to the Newton Foundation for their leadership in helping to spearhead this initiative,” says Professor Phillip Lipscy, director of the Centre for the Study of Global Japan. “This support will allow us to begin accelerating research, education and intellectual exchange to advance innovative solutions to contemporary policy challenges, with a particular focus on Japan. The goal of this initiative is to emphasize education and its role across the globe, in sustainable human development and equity and inclusion.”

Since its establishment in 2017, the Centre for the Study of Global Japan has become an internationally recognized leader in research, teaching and public outreach on contemporary Japan. The Initiative for Education Policy and Innovation will expand the centre’s programming and strengthen its relationships with key stakeholders in Japan to further academic exchange and policy impact.    

“The ideal time to roll out this initiative is now,” says Professor Rie Kijima, who will serve as the project’s inaugural director. “Japan is undergoing economic, social and political changes that impact the development of the education sector, affecting millions of children. It is the prime time to inform and institute education policy changes with long-term impact, and I’m grateful to Richard and Satoko Ingram for their support in realizing this vision.”

The Ingrams are long-time supporters of their alma mater. Richard attended University of Toronto Schools for high school before enrolling at the Faculty of Arts & Science, earning his bachelor of arts in political science and economics in 1965 as a member of Trinity College. Satoko earned her master of social work from U of T in 1972. Since founding the Newton Foundation in 1999, which also supports academic nursing across Quebec, the Ingrams have made several generous donations to University of Toronto Schools and the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education. Their continued support of the University of Toronto stems from their shared passion for education and the impact that evidence-based pedagogical approaches can have on the lives of youths in Japan, says Satoko.

Headshot of Rie Kijima
Professor Rie Kijima, inaugural director of the Initiative for Education Policy and Innovation.

The Newton Foundation’s pledge is a lead gift, marking the first donor contribution to the Initiative for Education Policy and Innovation. This will provide the Munk School with the funding needed to help launch and operate the initiative for two years while working to secure additional donor support.

“With this initiative, we intend to support new research in education policy, new course offerings, a scholarship and fellowship program, conferences and exchanges, and more,” says Kijima.

“As the new director of the Munk School, it brings me joy to see the profound generosity and commitment to education that the Newton Foundation’s recent pledge signifies,” says Professor Peter Loewen, who began his term as director on November 1. “This gift promises to galvanize education reform in Japan at a time when it is critically needed — and the impact won’t stop there. By developing innovative policy solutions that can be applied in countries around the world, this initiative will effect positive change on a global scale.”

Originally published in A&S News