On 24 and 25 November 2022, the Graduate School of Global Environmental Studies (GSGES) hosted a ceremony to mark its 20th anniversary and the 'Kyoto University International Symposium on Education and Research in Global Environmental Studies in Asia 2022 — 20 Years of GSGES Achievements and Future Opportunities'.
The Kyoto University International Symposium has taken place annually since 2015 as part of GSGES' ongoing international collaboration efforts, initiated with the school's founding two decades ago. This year's conference was part of a two-day program that included the ceremony, held on the 24th to reflect on GSGES' 20 years of achievements and ponder its future. The ceremony was attended by 235 participants — 63 in-person at Kyoto University's Maskawa Building for Education and Research and 172 online — while the symposium, held online on the 25th, drew 354 participants.
The ceremony on the 24th began with an address from GSGES Dean Takeshi Katsumi, followed by a keynote lecture by KyotoU President Nagahiro Minato. GSGES Vice Dean Makoto Usami then followed with his own lecture: "The Past and Present of GSGES: Achievements, Challenges, and Prospects". The first part of the event concluded with congratulatory video messages from nine overseas partner universities, three of them delivered by GSGES' doctoral graduates: Dr Tran Thanh Duc (2012), rector of Hue University of Agriculture and Forestry, Vietnam; Dr Sanara Hor (2014), dean of the Faculty of Land Management and Land Administration, Royal University of Agriculture, Cambodia; and Dr Nguyen Ngoc Tung (2012), dean of the Faculty of Architecture, Hue University of Sciences, Vietnam.
Part 2 opened with a presentation by Professor Emeritus and former GSGES dean Shigeo Fujii, who discussed the school's international collaborations in Vietnam, detailing the history and achievements of long-term projects implemented in the country with researchers from partner universities. Next GSGES Professor Shinya Echigo presented on the school's research and education collaborations with Mahidol University in Thailand, including an 'on-site laboratory' initiative and double-degree program. The speakers then took part in a panel discussion with three other researchers: Dr Suwanna Boontanon, associate professor at Mahidol University (program-specific associate professor at GSGES); Dr Ayako Fujieda, lecturer at Kyoto Seika University, a former assistant professor at GSGES, and one of the school's first graduates; and Dr Minori Tokito, an assistant professor at GSGES and a 2018 graduate of the school's doctoral program. The three researchers described their own Asia-based long-term international education and research collaborations in global environmental studies and exchanged ideas for future projects with the other panelists. The session was moderated by GSGES Professor Hirohide Kobayashi, who later delivered closing remarks for the ceremony.
On the following day, the International Symposium began with three poster sessions — "Global Ecology", "Environmental Technology", and "Natural Resources" — featuring 82 presentations by early-career researchers and students, who discussed the latest environmental study topics and responded to audience questions.
Three oral sessions then took place in parallel, coordinated by GSGES faculty and focused on the following topics: 1) "Global Environmental Challenges — A Multi-Disciplinary Perspective" (coordinator: Senior Lecturer Roger Cloud Baars), 2) "Plastics Management and Microplastics Issues in Asia" (Associate Professor Shuhei Tanaka), and 3) "Natural Resources Utilization for Urban/Rural Development" (Professor Izuru Saizen). Each featured three or four invited researchers, who reported on recent developments and notable achievements in their fields as well as engaging in an active exchange of views and sharing of information.
The final segment of the event was a closing session, which included an award ceremony for the best poster from each of the three poster sessions, selected by a 23-member committee representing nine universities/institutions. Finally, the symposium concluded with remarks from GSGES Professor Shinya Funakawa.
GSGES was established in April 2002 to address the 21st century's urgent environmental problems. The ceremony and symposium provided an invaluable opportunity to look back through this 20-year history as well as to examine contemporary global environmental issues and to explore future opportunities. Looking to the future of global environmental studies, GSGES researchers underlined the importance of making sustained efforts in the following areas: interdisciplinary and practical research, international collaboration, and human capital development, where the school’s ongoing top priority is to create an environment in which people of diverse backgrounds can flourish — regardless of gender, nationality, age, or job title.
GSGES aims to continuously enhance its research and education activities over the coming decade by building on its 20 years of achievements.