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One of the most urgent global issues of our time is to cope with the impacts of the clearly recognized climatic changes, and associated extreme weather and water-related hazards, such as floods and droughts. Even if we were to immediately stop the present increase of emissions of greenhouse effect gases (e.g., carbon dioxide), it is impossible to curtail the detrimental outcome on our global climate. The lasting effects from our present industrial activities will continue for several decades.
At Kyoto University, in order to confront these crucial problems, we hope to provide more innovative education by creating a new interdisciplinary graduate school education system (Educational Unit) through the GCOE program. This effort will produce young world leaders from many countries, who will have the expertise to deal with the global climate issues in the coming decades. The Educational Unit is composed of five graduate schools (Global Environmental Studies, Science, Engineering, Informatics and Agriculture) and two research institutes: Disaster Prevention Research Institute (DPRI) and Research Institute for Sustainable Humanosphere (RISH), as shown in Figure 1.
The Educational Unit consists of two interdisciplinary courses: Science-Engineering (SE) Joint Course and Humanity (Liberal Arts) and Science-Engineering (H-SE) Joint Course. The Division of Earth and Planetary Sciences (DEPS), Graduate School of Science, will lead the SE course through the Integrated Earth Science Hub. This Hub was created as a result of the 21st Century COE Program “KAGI (Kyoto University Active Geosphere Investigations) 21” in 2003-2007, which was led by DEPS with RISH and DPRI. The Department of Environmental Management (DEM), Graduate School of Global Environmental Studies will lead the H-SE course.
These Joint Courses are created because the global issues cannot be adequately addressed by researchers working in single disciplines. Viable solutions need a sound scientific basis, along with appropriate engineering considerations, as well as human-based, community-based and socially relevant considerations. It is necessary to train researchers with technical specialties and at the same time develop wider perspectives that cover interdisciplinary aspects. In other words, we need specialists in individual scientific disciplines with the view of “generalists”.
Collaborating with international organizations and other universities/institutions in the world, the program also includes research opportunities for graduate students, post-doctoral fellows and assistant professors. This will provide on-the-job training in domestic/overseas research fields with Kyoto University professors and visiting professors from other institutions who are invited to participate in this GCOE.
Through the education efforts of this GCOE program, Kyoto University can provide the new leaders who will develop the real solutions to mitigate the current and future effects of extreme weather and water disasters in our vulnerable world.