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Cross-border programme nurtures global SDG leadership


Interdisciplinary research and transfer of expertise across borders are key to developing experts on sustainability and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) scholars involved in the partnership said.

This is the approach of Hokkaido University’s interdisciplinary graduate education program known as “One Program for Global Goals” (OGGs), which offers master’s and doctoral programs on the SDGs taught in English with partner universities in Asian and European countries. Intended for students.

“Sustainability themes are now embedded throughout our curriculum and research. Our international program aims to create highly motivated leaders to develop [the] The SDGs are sensitive to diverse perspectives,” explains Aya Takahashi, professor and OGGs program manager at the Hokkaido University Institute for the Advancement of Higher Education.

Hokkaido University established OGG Faculty By merging, in April 2022, three existing major international programs that combine science and technology with the social science disciplines.

Understanding sustainability and “human resource development that contributes to global sustainable development” is the overarching theme of the OGGs program. Additionally, the curriculum includes fieldwork and learning from the community, with an emphasis on cultural studies.

SDGs are national priorities

In Japan, the SDGs have been given “national priority” status under the Prime Minister. The Cabinet Office is responsible for relevant policies under various ministries and companies and ensures that the SDGs are on its agenda.

Japanese universities are also promoting sustainability research. The Sciences and Humanities Department addresses topics such as reducing waste and developing environmentally friendly technologies.

“Despite the lack of official data, it is fair to say that the UN SDGs are now taught in a variety of ways in most Japanese universities. It shows that awareness is growing,” said Tanaka Yasuno, an official at the International Affairs Division of Japan’s Ministry of Education.

A 2020 survey conducted by the National Federation of University Cooperatives revealed that the SDGs have emerged as a popular subject in higher education. More than 75% of his nearly 10,000 students surveyed at 30 universities cited the topic as important.

The most popular were SDG 4 (Equality in Education), followed by SDG 3 (Health and Well-Being) and SDG 2 (Zero Hunger).

Hokkaido’s OGGs program includes PARE (Population, Activity, Resources, Environment) with Asian countries, STSI (Sustainable Transport Systems and Infrastructure) with India, and NJE3 (Northern Environmental Specialist Education Joint Program) with Nordic countries. It combines three international programs.

The SDGs Graduate Program is led by national and international professors. Graduate and doctoral course students conduct research in laboratories, conduct fieldwork, and attend various lectures. The advanced program lasts her one semester. After OGG, doctoral students can continue their research at university or be accepted to Hokkaido University.

Technologies for sustainable agriculture

PalaisLaunched in 2012 to develop sustainability leaders and now part of the OGG, is working with six Asian universities to develop natural ecosystems in agriculture, water resources and environmental protection. We are fostering sustainable technology that utilizes Students mainly come from Asia (Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam) and study alongside their Japanese counterparts.

The curriculum includes a program taught by Associate Professor Junjiro Negishi, a biodiversity expert, who uses ecosystem services in combination with advanced technologies such as smart agricultural technology to reduce pesticides on farmland. and controlling the use of chemical fertilizers.

Frika Rahmawari, a former PARE Summer School student and an Indonesian chemistry postgraduate student at Gadjah Mada University in Yogyakarta, said during her program with Negishi to investigate how human activity is related to pollution. He explained that he focused on river sampling.

“Due to the growing interest in organic farming in Indonesia, my research at OGG will analyze the chemical contamination of river water and soil, furthering my work in promoting hydroponic systems in my country. It helps me keep going,” she explained in an email.

Technology is also important for providing data collection and monitoring systems to reduce water pollutants and evidence to help change human behavior towards more sustainable practices.

“Students will learn how technology can bring about sustainable change in agricultural systems. We can implement new practices,” Negishi said. university world news.

He added that by exposing Japanese students to practices in Asia, they are learning the value of local knowledge for sustainable agricultural practices.

Japan’s agricultural sector is highly mechanized due to an aging farming population and a declining workforce. Asia is expected to face a similar trajectory, he said, pointing to another area where cross-border educational cooperation can prepare and foster sustainable ways.

Sustainable transport and infrastructure

Taichiro Okazaki, an engineering professor and expert in seismic technology, is the director of the Sustainable Transportation Systems and Infrastructure (STSI) Program, now part of OGG. “Through fieldwork, collaborative laboratory research, and discussion, we encourage students to explore the challenges faced by governments, communities, and other stakeholders in the challenge of achieving sustainable transport. I am,” he explained.

Launched in 2017, STSI In collaboration with the Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT) in Hyderabad, Bombay and Madras, we focus on resilient engineering techniques in India’s railway system and social infrastructure.

One of the STSI courses covers engineering techniques such as the addition of steel stoppers to strengthen existing highway decks in Japan from seismic shaking and related issues such as technology transfer, infrastructure maintenance, monitoring systems, and the benefits of tax collection. ) with a discussion about

“The course isn’t looking for right or wrong answers. Rather, the spotlight is on finding locally-based and sustainable solutions,” Okazaki said. university world news.

STSI has created a “robust network of researchers who are encouraged to work together in the field of research.” [own] or the country they can return to [Japan] To study or teach at our university,” he added.

Munaswamy Murugesh, a mechanical engineering student at the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, returned to Hokkaido University on a scholarship to study nanoparticle synthesis. The OGG has opened its doors not only to implement new technologies, but also to the importance of raising public awareness to achieve sustainable management of railways, he said. university world news.

“The OGGs program reinforced my research on sustainable technologies that I learned at Hokkaido University. However, I also noticed challenges in India when it came to transmitting behavioral patterns. It makes it easier to introduce sustainable behaviors to the people compared to the uphill struggles of India’s highly diverse population.”

OGG also supports NJE3, a collaboration with northern hemisphere universities such as Far East Russia and Finland, which share similar cold weather conditions. Cold region road engineering research to improve transport conditions in winter is one of the joint research areas.

Norihiro Watanabe, an assistant professor at Hokkaido University’s Faculty of Engineering, has been researching sustainable civil engineering technology during heavy snowfalls. This includes building designs that reduce energy consumption through cold-resistant materials.

Cross-cultural understanding

Cross-cultural understanding is an important aspect of cooperation on sustainability, and Hokkaido University offers language and culture classes as part of its program. International students study Japanese, Hokkaido University students learn languages ​​such as Thai and Hindi, and visiting overseas partner universities and institutions is important in helping them adapt.

According to the university, OGG also introduced drama skills for students at SDG seminars this year, with the aim of enhancing team building and promoting open and honest interaction.

Students choose an SDGs to focus on, discuss issues based on their personal experiences and perspectives, and present their findings in the program’s first original drama.

Takahashi, who is also a deputy director, pointed out that Hokkaido University’s sustainable portfolio stems from its historical expertise in agriculture.

“Historical experience in working with technology and community development embodies important experience,” said Takahashi.

Last year, Hokkaido University became the number one university in Japan in terms of contribution to the SDGs. Times Higher Education In the international impact ranking that measures the degree of contribution to the SDGs, we have won 10th place, which is higher than any other Japanese institution.The university Leading the world in SDG 2 (Zero Hunger).

This is the second in a series of articles on the SDGs in partnership with Hokkaido University in Japan. university world news is solely responsible for its editorial content.first in this series access here.



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