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


Clinical Environmental Studies

Research in Environmental Studies encompasses many diverse fields. It is meteorological research that makes predictions about global warming, and chemical engineering research that can help us to clean up contaminated materials, whilst economic research can point the way towards realizing a low carbon society. There are certainly more dimensions and disciplines than can be listed here. Until now, this research has been conducted disparately and discretely. Cooperation and collaboration between researchers in differing fields has been sadly lacking. Our GCOE intends to change this.

It is true that our GCOE divides Environmental Studies into two very broad categories, the diagnosis aspect and the treatment aspect. The stagnation of meaningful exchange between these two aspects has often led to on-site research situations that fall well short of generating tangible solutions to environmental problems. We have experienced, too often, research that prescribes treatment unrelated to the diagnosis, or alternatively diagnoses with no thought to the treatment that must follow.

Environmental problems continue to worsen, however, and efforts must be quickened to find concrete solutions. That is why it is so important that we work now to construct a new framework for Environmental Studies, one which integrates diverse fields into a coherent whole.

So how can this be achieved? Our GCOE will first focus on ensuring that researchers from different disciplines are working on the same specific problems at the same on-site location, where the effects of environmental issues can be seen and felt. Researchers must then collaborate to first elucidate the cause of the problem, and then to consider the ways in which it could be solved. They must then move on to putting their solution into place, which will help them to understand the problem with even greater clarity. Measures that bring researchers together in this way are key to the successful integration of Environmental Studies. We call these measures Clinical Environmental Studies.

Clinical Environmental Studies will be led by Nagoya University researchers, but we will encourage participation in our work by government bodies and NPOs in Japan, as well as the many other people in our local communities who are concerned by current environmental issues. Overseas, we will cooperate with local counterpart organizations to elucidate, analyze and evaluate problems in a comprehensive and systemized approach.

There are three key areas in which practical training in Clinical Environmental Studies will take place as part of our GCOE. They are:

Research will be planned and carried out in these three areas. Each area is already subject to investigation by other Nagoya University researchers, and the impressive archive of findings covers diagnosis and treatment, the humanities and science. Using these findings as our foundation, we shall attempt to generate a more integrated Environmental Studies, capable of bringing together findings and knowledge from many different but related fields of expertise.

The three areas above can be considered as follows:

  • An area with a mature economy
  • An area experiencing a high growth era
  • An area predicted to grow economically in the near future

Each area, therefore, faces environmental issues that are specific to its relative stage of economic growth. In addition to these differences, however, they also share similarities – those issues which affect the entire world are becoming ever more evident, through the worsening of global environmental problems and the unrelenting development of the globalized economy.

Research in Environmental Studies can achieve the practical integration of the many diverse fields that make up Environmental Studies by encouraging researchers to cooperate and collaborate on specific issues in discrete regions. At the same time, we are aiming to generate knowledge that goes beyond the limitations of on-site clinical field work. Our GCOE will also promote collaboration and cooperation to elucidate those issues that are shared throughout all regions of the world (in other words, the underlying structure of environmental problems), through classes and research instruction in Basic Environmental Studies.

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