Message from the Head

Towards a Harmonious Coexistence between Nature and People

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Prof. Dr. Sota Tanaka

5th Head, Kuroshio Science program (PhD course), Tropical Soil Science

Education and research in Kuroshio Science are built on two major mainstays. The first in an interdisciplinary approach that integrates the humanities and science. The second is an international approach in which the area of study is Southeast Asia, particularly the Kuroshio Region.

We have sought ways for people and nature to coexist using the education research that lays out the framework in the integration of the humanities and science that is the first mainstay. Since humans first appeared, they have been subsumed in the natural environment and have lived in harmony within the framework of the natural ecosystem. The renewal of resources between people and nature has been sustainable and natural resources have been renewable. However, ever since the Industrial Revolution started, that harmony has been going out of balance. By pumping and digging out underground resources in vast quantities and using them aboveground, the massive consumption of resources started. Such massive use of resources cannot be compared to what was used before the Industrial Revolution. At the same time, waste material was very quickly created in quantities that nature could not deal with.

The people who have pointed out that the rapid growth in human activities poses a threat to the sustainability of natural resources are too numerous to mention. Of the more well known are Thomas R. Malthus who started it off with An Essay on the Principle of Population published at the end of the 18th century; Dennis Meadows et al. in their Limits to Growth in the 1970s; and Mathis Wackernagel et al. in Our Ecological Footprint: Reducing Human Impact on the Earth published in the 1990s. However, in considering the global perspective, that reality only increases the gravity of the situation. For example, if you call to mind atmospheric pollution, water pollution, and water shortages in line with climate change, nuclear accidents, and the economic development of emerging nations, then the situation ought to be quite clear.

During such interdisciplinary approach, you will see the problem of the coexistence of people and nature in the Kuroshio Region and Work towards solutions and the elucidation of the scientific principles that support them. When you think of the issue of coexistence, it is imperative to look at the problems from a humanities and social science perspective, and not just natural science. Accordingly, since the inception of the program, we have incorporated multifaceted education research that integrates the humanities and science in education and in research.

Further, in terms of an international approach, we uncover the prevailing issues and want fields to discover regional solutions, with a particular focus on the Kuroshio Region. The Kuroshio Current is an ocean current that traverses Tosa Bay there Kochi University is located. The current originates in the Philippine Sea, passes east of the Philippines and Taiwan, and reaches the Boso Peninsula. The communities in the Kuroshio Region share the resources and energy brought by the current and it is a region that has considerable differences in the people, culture, and economic development. The commonality of the Kuroshio Region is to call attention to the awareness of the issues and promote sharing of the results to carry through the education research in the different fields in the region. That diversification affords opportunities to clear the way for potential that can apply those results outside the Kuroshio Region.

In 2014, we launched the Program for Nurturing Talented People to Establish a Sustainable Society in the Kuroshio Region as the culmination of the principle of education research in this program to date. This education program helps students lean strategies and methods to curb the overharvesting of marine resources in the coastal areas and strive to raise the income of people living in the region. These objectives are achieved through three subjects: Socio-economic Survey Methods, Analysis of Function of Algae on Human Health, and Development of Algae on Human Health, and Development of Algae Food Processing. In the future, we plan to expand the fields of specialization as well as the number of researches within and outside Japan, and to expand education and research to implement the principles of this program.