Message from the Project Leader
of “Sustainability/Survivability Science for a Resilient Society Adaptable to Extreme Weather Conditions”


Professor Kaoru Takara

Professor Kaoru Takara   The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) of Japan states that the Global COE (GCOE) Program aims to enhance educational and research function of graduate schools in Japan and to foster world-leading and creative personnel in excellent centers of research by focusing on establishing world-class educational and research bases, in order to develop internationally competitive universities. In fiscal 2009, the Ministry focuses on promoting internationally innovative programs which would facilitate integration of different academic disciplines or creation of new areas of study.


   On June 15, 2009, “Sustainability/Survivability Science for a Resilient Society Adaptable to Extreme Weather Conditions”, proposed by the Disaster Prevention Research Institute (DPRI), was adopted as one of the GCOE Programs. This newly adopted program inherits some research themes from two preceding 21st Century COE Programs of Kyoto University: “Center of Excellence for Natural Disaster Science and Disaster Reduction” (fiscal 2002-2006, Program Leader: Prof. Yoshiaki Kawada, DPRI) and “Kyoto University Active Geosphere Investigations -- a proposal from Asia and Oceania to the world -- (fiscal 2003-2007, Program Leader: Prof. Shigeo Yoden, Graduate School of Science).  The program focuses on how human beings and human society could adapt to global-scale changes including climate change that incurs extreme weather and changes in water cycle on the Earth, population increase, urbanization, desertification, etc. Especially it emphasizes scientific explanation and prediction of weather and hydrological disasters as well as social adaptation to these events.


   DPRI and the Research Institute for Sustainable Humanosphere (RISH) seek to establish a new “educational unit” on these themes in fiscal 2010 in cooperation with five graduate schools (Graduate Schools of Science, Engineering, Informatics, Agriculture and Global Environmental Studies) and Office of Society-Academia Collaboration for Innovation. In this educational unit, we plan to foster research personnel at graduate school level by combining engineering and science, or even integrating humanities and sciences. Specifically, the students who entered in one of the above graduate schools and want to take the program of “Sustainability/Survivability Science for a Resilient Society Adaptable to Extreme Weather Conditions” must enroll in this educational unit, attend interdisciplinary classes in which engineering and science or humanities and sciences are integrated (for both students in master’s course and doctor’s course), and participate in internship, field researches, interdisciplinary seminars, and international schools. The graduate students who studied two years or more in the program of “Sustainability/Survivability Science for a Resilient Society Adaptable to Extreme Weather Conditions” (master’s course can be included in this period) and who meet the specified requirements will receive certificate of completing the program from the “educational unit”. In order to obtain academic degrees, the students will have to fulfill the requirements specified by each graduate school and submit a dissertation. To help these students, each instructor will coordinate the course so that they can get guidance from teachers of not only the graduate schools involved in the educational unit but also other graduate schools. 


   Thus, the educational unit aims to foster specialists with a viewpoint of generalists by encouraging students with various backgrounds including Japanese students, foreign students, adult students, and young researchers to conduct interdisciplinary and unique researches and to develop systematic knowledge and expertise. This objective corresponds to “contributing to a harmonious coexistence within human and ecological community on this planet,” the mission which Kyoto University pursues.


   Field researches will be conducted in not only existing observatories and laboratories in Japan but also overseas field research and education sites we used in previous international joint studies. We will also launch new research bases in Niger, Kenya (or Tanzania), India, Thailand, Indonesia, and Fiji. We set up two research themes in which students and young researchers will participate:

Theme 1: Science-engineering integrated research on extreme weather and water cycle and on disaster prediction/observation

Theme 2: Humanities-sciences integrated research on social adaptation to abnormal weather and chronic meteorological hazards

These themes will provide opportunities for education and training, which are called OJT (On the Job Training) or ORT (On the Research Training).


   There are 22 program promoters including the program leader. In addition, many other instructors in different departments and graduate schools will provide a wide range of cooperation such as class sharing, guidance in research for a degree in different study areas, instruction in field researches and internship, and providing interdisciplinary seminars and international schools.


   In Asia, located in humid climate and tectonic zone, overpopulation and land development are escalating. Africa has arid and semi-arid regions and also tropical rainforests. The environmental conditions in these areas are more severe than in other areas in the world in terms of social and natural aspects, and thus especially sensitive and vulnerable to extreme weather. The people’s living and economy in these areas provide implication for survivability of humans on the Earth, and at the same time, requires adaptation strategies to cope with more difficult conditions expected in the future. We will pursue sustainability/survivability science and foster world-leading experts by developing practical research in these areas in the world.


   As a unique international base to present educational and research results and to deliver a better guidance for the global society in the 21st century, this GCOE program is highly expected to develop further. We hope many talented individuals from all over the world will participate in this program, develop their skills and expertise, and become internationally active professionals.


October 1, 2009

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