Outline of the Program

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.  Figure 1: Structure of the Educational Unit. 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.


Objectives, significance and prospective impacts of the GCOE Program

1) Disciplines covered:


   The proposed COE Program focuses on adaptation to climate change impacts, such as extreme (or abnormal) weather and subsequent water-related hazards that seriously affect people and societies around the world, such as cyclones, storms, floods, droughts, and sea level rise. Basic disciplines to be covered are climatology, meteorology, hydrology, ecology, forestry, agriculture, and water resources and coastal engineering. In addition, other liberal arts disciplines are included, such as psychology, human science, sociology, risk management, disaster/emergency management, economics, laws, policy science, and international cooperation, because these social aspects are important for survival in vulnerable situations and for establishment of a society that is sustainable in regards to global climate issues.


2) Research activities and international aspects:


   While mitigation of climate change (reducing greenhouse effect gases such as CO2) has been considered seriously for a decade after the Kyoto Protocol was adopted in 1997, adaptation to climate change impacts has not been considered at the same level, because of the various uncertainties of the local, regional and global impacts. However, after Climate Change 2007, the Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was published, it has become clear that adaptation is an urgent global and national-level issue to be addressed.
   There is currently no other organization in the world that can systematically deal with education and capacity building in conjunction with academic research activities, for this important global issue. This is the unique aspect of our COE Program at Kyoto University.
   In order to deal with real interdisciplinary issues that are important for adaptation to extreme weather and subsequent water-related hazards, this COE Program proposes two research activities:
Theme 1: Science-Engineering Interdisciplinary Research on the Monitoring and Prediction of Extreme Weather, Water Cycle and Disaster Contingency; and
Theme 2: Integrated Social-Natural Sciences Research Towards the Creation of a Sustainable Society Adaptable to Global Environmental Change.

In these research programs, young graduate students will join field-based research projects to further their own scientific purposes, as well building their capacities in various technological, social and international skills.
   Theme 1 is based on the international network of meteorological observation sites with various high-tech remote sensing and in-situ observation systems, which have been densely distributed for about twenty years in the Asia-Oceania region, including the 2003-2007 Kyoto University deployment by KAGI21. Using this top world-level network, Theme 1 monitors, detects and verifies the meteorological parameters of climate change and abnormal weather conditions in the region, and constructs numerical models that predict future meteorological and hydrological extreme events (hazards), such as severe cyclones, storms, floods and droughts. The work also proposes countermeasures for disaster reduction and disaster management for the society, considering both scientific issues and practical engineering aspects. This research theme can be a pioneering scientific discipline hub that provides scientists, engineers, junior researchers and graduate students with a unique high-level observation-simulation-forecasting methodology for extreme weather conditions, with links to disaster reduction and management strategies in local regions.
   Theme 2 deals with social and human aspects in adaptation to climatic change impacts, considering various factors, such as influences on livelihoods mainly in primary industry, quitting of jobs and migrating from rural to urban areas, and changes of traditional family systems and long-standing customs (common practice). Field-based studies in the Asia-Oceania and Africa regions are conducted for two sub-themes, which will be integrated into environmental science for adaptation strategies against current and future global environment change including global warming and social change. Theme 2 includes counterparts in western Africa (Niger) and eastern Africa (Kenya and Tanzania), as well as countries in the Asia-Oceania region, including the Fiji Islands. It is a necessary challenge to conduct integrated liberal-arts and science-engineering research in these areas and to further educate top students from these regions, in order to make a real contribution to sustainable societies around the world.


Why this GCOE by us? – Historical background
[a] Importance and future prospects for the COE in our country

   Issues related to climate change are priority research fields in this country, because Japan is responsible for “mitigation” of climate change, based on the Kyoto Protocol of 1997. Adaptation to climate change effects is important as well as mitigation. Kyoto University is located in Kyoto and has many prominent researchers in the fields of climatic, meteorological and atmospheric sciences, water-related science and engineering, and social sciences relating to disaster management. In addition, DPRI administered the 21st Century COE Program, “Center of Excellence for Natural Disaster Science and Disaster Reduction” during 2002-2006. The Graduate School of Science (DEPS) also administered another 21st Century COE Program, “Active Geosphere Investigations (KAGI21)” along with RISH and DPRI. The close association of Kyoto and Kyoto University to the global climate change issues provides an important backdrop for the establishment of this new interdisciplinary COE program.
   In addition, Kyoto University is an active member of organizations such as APRU (Association of Pacific Rim Universities), AEARU (Association of East Asian Research Universities) and AUN/SEED-Net (ASEAN University Network/Southeast Asia Engineering Education Development Network organized by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA)). The proposed COE Program can attract many research organizations and many students from universities participating in these association networks, to join the implementation of this new interdisciplinary international project. The research results of the COE Program and the students and junior researchers educated in this program will contribute to disaster prevention/reduction efforts of countries in the Asia-Oceania and Africa regions during the coming decades.

[b] Excellence and uniqueness from an international standard

   DPRI, which was established in 1951 as part of Kyoto University, is arguably the best qualified institute in the world to undertake efforts promoting hazard studies in various fields, including water-related hazards, atmospheric hazards, earthquakes, volcano eruptions, and other geo-hazards, as well as implementation science for integrated disaster risk management, including emergency management, recovery/restoration activities. It is the only institute in the world with over 50 years research and education experience in combined earth science, engineering, and social science research. DPRI has signed agreements for international cooperation and exchange with 28 overseas institutions/universities, and RISH has 12 agreements.
   In 1984, RISH invented and deployed a unique MU (Middle and Upper atmosphere) radar system in Shigaraki, Japan, which is known as the most capable atmospheric radar in the world. Research papers using the MU radar have been cited by a tremendous number of researchers all over the world. RISH also has many other advanced high-tech observation systems and developed an observation network including Japan, Indonesia, India, Australia and other Asian and Pacific countries. In particular, the Equatorial Atmosphere Radar (EAR) was established in West Sumatra, Indonesia in 2001.
   The Graduate School of Science, Kyoto University is very famous for producing Novel Prize Winners in science: Hideki Yukawa (1949), Shinichiro Tomonaga (1965) and Toshihide Maskawa (2008). With this renowned tradition, the Division of Earth and Planetary Science (DEPS) has conducted world-leading scientific research and education and produced many prominent professors, as well as excellent students. Other participating Graduate Schools of Engineering, Informatics, Agriculture and Global Environmental Studies are also world leaders in their respective research and education fields, producing many scholars and excellent students.

About logo mark

   The four pillars of the activities of our Program, which seeks to “contribute to a harmonious coexistence within human and ecological community on this planet” (the mission of Kyoto University), are illustrated by a four-leaf clover, a symbol of happiness, and combined with the Earth. The abbreviation “ARS” stands for “Adaptation and Resilience in a Sustainable/Survivable Society to extreme weather and water conditions”.

1. Advanced Research:
 To conduct top-level research in the world
2. Interdisciplinary Approach:
  To deal with global environmental issues in cooperation with many disciplines
3. Capacity Building:
  To bring up gifted students and young researchers as top-level scholars/scientists and international/local elites with a good sense of ethics and responsibility
4. Global center of excellence:
  To have good international reputation for being an excellent center creating/disseminating significant academic information, producing many capable human resources, and being loved by visitors from all over the world

   The Latin word ARS refers to medicine or art.
Hippocrates, an ancient Greek medical scientist, said “ars longa, vita brevis”, which means “You need long years to master medicine, but the life is short, so you must study hard.”
His famous words were later extended to mean “Artworks remain after the artist dies. The life of an artist is short,” and further became referred to as “Art is long and life is short.”

   The phrase can be translated to “Our lives are short, however, if we do good research, it will be continued over generations.” In the East, too, there is a saying “Don't waste any moment because learning is hard and boys (youngsters??) grow old easily.”

   We hope that those who participate in this Program will have ambition and a wide vision, and work hard, building up various experiences in research and activities. The logo reflects our intention as mentioned above. We hope you like this.

   If you want to use this logo for printing or other purposes, please contact GCOE-ARS Secretariat at secretariatars.gcoe.kyoto-u.ac.jp.
Kaoru Takara, Program Leader

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