Education Program

What is "Sustainability Science?"

The Osaka University Research Institute for Sustainability Science (RISS) / Sustainability Design Center (SDC) started the Sustainability Science Education Program in October 2007 for master's program students from throughout Osaka University. The program began with two compulsory elective courses in sustainability science and by the 2010-11 academic year had grown to offer three compulsory elective courses and twenty-five sustainability associate courses as electives to provide students from across the university opportunities to study sustainability science as part of an associate program in the Osaka University Graduate School.

"Sustainability" describes those qualities of a society that allow it to maintain itself over time. Today, ideas are needed for comprehensively solving the urgent problems facing the international community in many areas, including climate change associated with global warming, energy, politics and economics, population, medicine and food supply. Global problems arise from simultaneous failures of three systems: physical systems (e.g., resources, energy and ecology), social systems (e.g., economics, government, industrial structure and technological systems) and individual human behavior (e.g., lifestyle, health, security, values). Sustainability science helps to maintain and enhance global society and meet its needs by studying these systems in order to rebuild them and repair the interrelationships among them.

However, a single field of research, to say nothing of a single researcher, cannot solve such complex problems; specialists from various disciplines must join forces to tackle these issues. Researchers must make full use of their own specialized knowledge and experience and also be able to work with specialists in other fields. In Osaka University's Sustainability Science Associate Program (an interdisciplinary Education Program, students gain a broad view and deep understanding of sustainability problems and learn to see their own fields of specialty in the context of sustainability. The program provides opportunities for site visits and discussions that include students from other fields, and is set up to help students learn not just theory but practical skills. As specialists who also have an understanding of sustainability science, students of the Osaka University program can expect to make an active contribution to society.

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