The institute was established as an organization directly supervised by the Office of the President in 2008 in order to achieve participation by all faculties and graduate schools of The University of Tokyo. It was transformed into a university-wide center in April 2013.
Integrating diverse and advanced knowledge accumulated at the University of Tokyo, this research organization functions as a think tank, promoting interdisciplinary research, creating forums for international knowledge collaboration, and presenting policy recommendations for a new socio-economic system that will contribute to solving global issues.
As the main role of the institute is integrative — to form internal and external networks, to work as a coordinator and to function as the window through which The University of Tokyo proposes policies — the institute itself is a small organization with a limited staff. The activities of research units are undertaken by the members of individual projects or by the staff employed by those projects in various departments and faculties in the University.