Nagoya University Global COE Program: From Earth System Science to Basic and Clinical Environmental Studies



Today, we are seeing our global environment, and the diverse earth-life systems contained within it, undergo many changes. One way to approach these diverse issues is to imagine them to be the equivalent of pathological changes in the human body. This comparison makes it easy to appreciate how the role of Environmental Studies is very similar to medical science as it confronts disease.

Up until now, however, Environmental Studies have been split into two distinct fields. Firstly, there are diagnostic-type Environmental Studies, which analyze the structure of the earth-life interactive system and the relationship between that system and human society; examples of this type of discipline include earth sciences, ecology and geography. The other field is that of treatment-type Environmental Studies, which seek to develop technological or systematic solutions specifically designed to deal with - and heal - environmental issues; disciplines that fall into this category include engineering, agricultural studies and social studies. This polarization has resulted in a lack of systematic measures being taken to propel the discipline towards becoming fully equivalent to clinical medicine. What we need to encourage instead, is an approach that will bring the two isolated fields together, allowing us to form a comprehensive "healthcare program" able to cope with the ever increasing problems that our environment faces. This is what our GCOE, "From Earth System Science to Basic and Clinical Environmental Studies", will try to do.

Our GCOE will look at regions both inside and outside of Japan. It will cover diverse topics, ranging from the diagnosis of illnesses that threaten the sustainability of the relationship between human society and the natural world, to the appropriate prevention and treatment of those illnesses, to the accurate prediction and avoidance of any potential harmful side effects of treatment.

Our GCOE will incorporate a fully comprehensive sequence of practical measures, which will be systemized into Clinical Environmental Studies. In addition to this, Basic Environmental Studies will be developed as a basis for Clinical Environmental Studies. Basic Environmental Studies will comprehensively consider those pathologies that threaten to erode the sustainability between human society and the earth-life system. It will attempt to set in order the efficacy and inherent problems of existing technical and systematic approaches, and come up with viable alternative universal and global perspectives.

Clinical Environmental Studies and Basic Environmental Studies are like two wheels of one cart. They need to move in tandem if we are to reach the solutions to current and future environmental issues that we so desperately need. They are the two essential elements that integrate the various existing fields of environmental studies.

Reflecting this, the core framework of our GCOE Program will comprise the following parts:

  1. Integrated Environmental Studies Course: This integrated course will straddle the two Graduate Schools of Environmental Studies and Bioagricultural Sciences. It will comprise compulsory elements of Clinical Environmental Studies training and Basic Environmental Studies instruction. Students will be encouraged to develop strong practical abilities at a local community level, together with the capacity to adopt a global perspective.
  2. Training Program in Clinical Environmental Studies: This course will look at specific regions both within and outside of Japan. Teams of graduate students and faculty members from diverse fields will identify issues and problems threatening the sustainability of the relationship between nature and human society within those regions. They will then work in collaboration with local communities and government bodies to find solutions and to predict any practical implications of the implementation of those solutions. This course will be known as On-site Research Training (ORT).
  3. Classes and Research Instruction in Basic Environmental Studies: This course will identify universal issues - best characterized by global warming or dwindling water resources - which affect every region around the globe. Graduate students from diverse fields will form teams with faculty members, and these teams will work to develop the underlying framework of Basic Environmental Studies through review and debate.
  4. Interdisciplinary Research Program: Research will be based on initiatives from graduate students and young researchers. Students will be given the opportunity to gain experience in project management as they engage in collaborative research with students and faculty members from other disciplines, funded by competitively awarded research funds.
  5. Construction and Consolidation of an International Collaboration Platform: Nagoya University Center for Global Environmental Leaders Program. We will work to strengthen the existing network between Nagoya University and universities and research institutes throughout Asia and the rest of the world. Our ORT program will also be developed internationally to encourage the international expansion of Basic and Clinical Environmental Studies. Also located at the core of this platform will be the Study Consortium for Earth-Life Interactive Systems (SELIS). Other measures, such as collaboration with international research programs and the implementation of schemes to invite leading overseas researchers and academic to take part in programs and courses at Nagoya University, will also be used to promote the further development of Basic and Clinical Environmental Studies.
  6. Career Path Support: Our GCOE will work to provide students with all the support they need in developing their future career. We will promote diverse career opportunities, including those that make the best use of skills learned in ORT. We also aim to establish a Consulting Firm that will function as an independent management entity.
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