Shiga University boasts a long history of environmental research, mainly on the environment of Lake Biwa, from its two Faculties, the Faculty of Education and the Faculty of Economics. At the Ishiyama Campus (Faculty of Education), great achievements have been made in ecological research on water/lake environments, sociological research on the local living environment, and in educational research on the environment. At the Hikone Campus (Faculty of Economics), great achievements have been made in economic research on the environment, agriculture and natural resources.
As the Research Center for Sustainability and Environment, Shiga University was established in 2003 as the strategic base for environmental research and education in close collaboration with the two Faculties. Currently, two professors, a few special/visiting professors, and approximately 30 collaborating professors belong to the Center. The Center owns 4 research divisions: Lake and Watershed Policy Research, Environmental Economy and Policy Research, Environmental Education Research, and Human and Regional Environmental Research. Professors belong to each division, and natural, human, and social sciences are all linked interactively. In this way, environmental research activities are promoted through diversified approaches.
The “Lake Basin Governance” project was initiated by Masahisa Nakamura, the former director of the center, using the budget for special research promotion from MEXT. The Potentiality of Integrated Lake Basin Management, which is a compound methodology for lake basin management, has been realized by deepening global exchange with many researchers, policy-makers, and citizens in not only East Asia but also in the U.S., Russia, Kenya, and Mexico.
Further research activities are conducted by other staff members in the following fields: economic policies to realize biodiversity restoration in paddy fields and the effectiveness of water quality improvement policies adopting a marketing technique. Another staff member is developing environmental education curricula to cultivate personnel to build a truly-sustainable society and conducting analyses based on environmental sociology regarding landscape creation and regional revitalization through “Art Projects”.
The Great East Japan earthquake disaster on March 11, 2011 and the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant accident are the most serious incidents following World War II, and many new issues were clarified, such as structural problems in Fukushima, as well as old problems such as Minamata Disease and Ashio copper mine pollution. We will foster problem solving research on these new problems.
Cooperation with the neighboring research and educational bodies, local governments, and NGO/NPO is essential for environmental research. Based on exchanges with several organizations, we will continue to produce quality research.
The Faculty of Data Science was launched as the third Faculty at Shiga University in April 2017. We will actively foster environmental research utilizing big data and/or artificial intelligence in collaboration with professors of the Faculty of Data Science. Along with the launch of the Faculty of Data Science, the Faculties were reorganized. This reorganization allows any professor regardless of faculty or division to flexibly participate in research activities at our center.
We appreciate your continued assistance and encouragement.
Research Center for Sustainability and Environment, Shiga University
Director, Hiroaki KITAMURA