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“Human Ecology: Rivers” a Field-based Seminar in Environmental Studies held in the great outdoors of Hokkaido

“Human Ecology: Rivers” a Field-based Seminar in Environmental Studies held in the great outdoors of Hokkaido

Marine biological field survey conducted under the cooperation of Akkeshi Marine Station, Hokkaido University (August 1)

“Human Ecology: Rivers”, a field-based seminar in environmental studies, was held in Akkeshi and Kushiro in Hokkaido from July 31 to August 6, 2017. Welcoming its fourth year, the seminar was originally designed under the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology’s “Re-Inventing Japan Project”, which was adopted in 2013. It is an extremely innovative and unique course that engages students in learning about efforts to conserve the river environment and protect wild fauna and flora through hands-on experiences in Hokkaido, home to a vast natural environment including the Kushiro Wetland.
Participating students become familiar with local challenges, as well as the local efforts made in response, in a pre-lecture before departure, and once they arrive in Hokkaido, they are exposed to lectures given by experts from the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport, the Ministry of the Environment, local fishermen and others who are involved with local environmental conservation in their respective fields and conduct field surveys to further their understanding.

Boat tour of oyster farms in Akkeshi (August 1)

Our new attempt this year was inviting Dr. Bjorn Barlaup (Head, Uni Research Environment, University of Bergen), who has been engaged in the protection of salmon in Norway for a long time, as a keynote speaker at our symposium, “Restoring Wetlands, Reviving Salmon.” At the symposium we asked Dr. Barlaup and six experts who lead environmental and salmon conservation activities in Hokkaido to deliver presentations on their respective activities. We heard reports of the status quo and challenges of nature restoration revealed in the conservation of salmon in Japan and Norway. Speeches were followed by a panel discussion in which panelists shared the challenges encountered in past conservation experiences, thus furthering discussion. Students attending the symposium were given the opportunity to confirm what they had learned during the preceding days.

Biological field survey at the source of Kushiro River under the support of the Ministry of the Environment (August 2)

The twelve participating students represented diverse backgrounds, namely France, India, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Sweden, Taiwan, Thailand, and the U.S. By spending seven days together under one roof and having the same meals, they each came to acknowledge one another and pursue closer exchange through field activities. This is what makes the course attractive.
The exchange student from Thailand commented that “the places we visited were all environments that cannot be found in Thailand and it was a great experience. I was exposed to the reality that the environment has been selfishly destroyed for human convenience and realized that we must be more conscious of the environment.”

Symposium "Restoring Wetlands, Reviving Salmon" (August 4)

Asscociate Professors Takeshi Ito and Tak Watanabe of the Faculty of Liberal Arts who are in charge of planning and delivering this course said, “We are able to offer this course every year thanks to the cooperation of a great number of people. We had another very successful program this year, supported by many people. I would like to extend my appreciation to all those who have been involved.”

This course has been offered under the Faculty of Liberal Arts, which has lead Sophia University’s international education program for many years and will be continued to be offered next year and onwards.

Canoe tour of Kushiro River with the support of Kushiro Salmon Society (August 5)

Student participants have written blog entries on the website below. Please visit the website to gain a vivid idea of what students learned and felt through the course.


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