Cannes Lions

Let Us Rethink Radically


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In 2020, many of the schools from elementary to university were shut down due to the pandemic, creating a tremendous loss of learning across the nation. Kyoto University, a top national university in Japan with eleven Nobel laureates across physics, chemistry, medicine, etc. to date, decided to address this issue.

However, even before the pandemic, lack of learning opportunity has existed in a wider context. The working population(age 25-40) and mothers, who just don’t have the time to spare despite their will to learn. Or people who live in remote areas with no access to university or higher education facilities. Such time and geographical constraints which limit learning has been recognized as a social issue across various forms of education.


In April 2020, State of Emergency was issued across the nation due to the pandemic and schools across Japan were forced to close down. Recognizing this as a serious loss of learning opportunity, a project was launched to offer an open online class, “Let us Rethink Radically.”

Eleven professors from Kyoto University, one of the highest educational institution, gave live online lectures on YouTube and Twitter every weekend, under the theme, COVID-19 pandemic. Anyone can participate via their smartphone or PC for free without any prior registration. On YouTube Live, the chat function was used to keep the lectures interactive. The participants and the lecturer engaged in a dialogue to collectively come up with a framework or clues to living this new reality. The purpose of the session is to share the knowledge in humanities and social science in hopes of shedding a light on a path to the solutions.


COVD-19 has brought about much stress for many, forcing some to question their choices in life as well as how a society should be. However, this topic is too vast and in order to do a deep dive, we need the vocabulary and the framework which can be applied across the society.

Humanities/Social Science is a study of knowledge and values which mankind has accumulated over the many years. While it may not offer a concrete solution like with economics or medicine, it can present a standard and a framework to help us reimagine our society despite all the uncertainties. We felt that the mission of a university education in this day and age where our entire value system is in a flux is to take this dialogue-based approach and share the knowledge to dive into the myriad of challenges this COVID-19 pandemic has brought upon us.


Every weekend from July 2020, we gave a total of 26 online lectures across philosophy, ethics, cultural psychology, clinical psychology, environmental history, contemporary society theory, public policy, cognitive neurology, regional/media study, etc. A one-hour lecture which consisted of 40-minute slide-based lecture and 20-minute Q&A using the chat function was broadcast live on YouTube and Twitter. All online lectures are archived on YouTube and can be viewed anytime.

As participants were able to use the chat function throughout to pose questions and thoughts, it became a place for a truly interactive learning where all mutually elevated their knowledge. This embodies the 21st Century-type education where learning is not about a one-way delivery of knowledge from a teacher to a student but an online dialogue-based interaction to update one’s knowledge based on the knowledge in the field of culture/social science.


The news about a free online lecture from Kyoto University was featured in over 100 media including all of the most influential newspapers, The Huffington Post, etc. When a well-known journalist talked about it on SNS, there were over 29,000 related tweets, taking the reach up to 23.46million.(Media earned ¥111,813,000)

For the first lecture, 15,600 participants joined in real-time. The lectures have recorded over 420,000 views to date. Given the student body at Kyoto University is about 20,000, this program truly opened up the opportunity for the wider audience to engage with quality cultural learning.

66% of the live participants were under the age of 44 who are the busy working generation. With a gender ratio of 50:50, we can say that we were able to reach a large number of the moms as well as the regional residents. This initiative will continue as a continuous learning program.

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