Formation of a Research Hub Rooted in the Field of Sustainable Living with Risk Management, Which Contributes to Sustainable Global Development
Today’s 21st century society sees an acceleration of the concentration of the population into cities supported by high-density activity. Risk factors have a significant impact on human activity on a wide range of scales from problems that the entire world faces, such as global warming and energy depletion, to issues effecting regions, cities, and people’s health. Examples include:
- Depletion of resources/energy on a global scale and increased health risk which accompany deterioration of living environments,
- Increasing large- scale and highly- frequent devastating natural disasters, such as earthquakes, tsunamis, typhoons, and volcanic activity,
- Deterioration of infrastructure and antiquated equipment, such as collapsing of bridges, railways, etc. and severe damage and a decline in the functioning of society caused by repeated industrial disasters, and
- Various types of serious damage to technology and systems, which are caused by human error and other human-based factors accompanying high-level development, complex conditions, and social immaturity.
Therefore, the realization of resilient societies which can deal with these issues is important for protecting people’s lives, assets, and social resources and for maintaining industrial activity and urban function.
Yokohama National University (YNU) established the Department of Safety Engineering in 1967, the first of its kind in Japan, and the Institute of Environmental Science Technology in 1973 where for many years research and development have been conducted and professionals have been trained in the fields of safety and security. In 2004, YNU established the Center for Risk Management and Safety Sciences that functions as a hub for focused research and education in the field of risk management and safety sciences, which is a combination of humanities and social sciences with natural science. In addition, the Global-Local-Education Research Center was also launched at the same time which systematically cultivates human resources for the 21st century who are capable of solving regional issues from a global perspective.
In this way, YNU has become an advanced international hub which conducts practical and leading research in the fields of risk management (from safety engineering to environmental risk science), architecture, and civil engineering. In addition, we have received high acclaim both domestically and internationally for producing many human resources involved with practical science and technology who are capable of innovating social and technical systems while promoting the integration of the humanities and sciences.
In addition to issues surrounding human activity which are related to resources, energy, the environment, and safety, there is a strong demand in 21st century society for the realization of a safe and secure society capable of sustainable development, the creation of new scientific fields and technologies, the assessment of newly developed technologies that contribute toward this effort, and the adequate implementation of these in society. At the same time, the various issues mentioned above will be solved with limited cost and burden on society as it matures with diverse values.
Leveraging the strengths of YNU, the Institute of Advanced Sciences (IAS) aims to promote leading-edge research for the realization of technological innovation and creation of resilient social systems based on the development and assessment of leading technological systems, risk analysis, establishment of optimal control methods, and similar efforts in order to respond quickly to the need of the society we have described. The creation of the field of sustainable living with risk management was realized through the integration of individually conducted risk research in various fields as a systematic area of study. While concentrating on research fields where the YNU strengths lie, the field of sustainable living with risk management has a synergy effect created through the presence of world-leading researchers and collaboration with them.
IAS consists of the following research fields: 1) Industrial disaster and natural disaster risk research and management and safety innovation research related to urban planning and political measures; 2) Creation and innovation of smart cities and research related to social spaces and value creation through clean energy, eco materials and clean cities; 3) Life innovation research related to the creation of technologies that respond with the aging society and networks using body area networks, etc. that serve as their foundation.
The following research themes have been planned as specific research projects for the fields mentioned: Energy materials and devices, energy system safety, advanced medical safety, robotics safety and reliability for nursing care and similar applications, industrial and process safety, material and structural safety, diagnosis of infrastructure vulnerability, regeneration and lengthening of life spans, disaster reduction and prevention, etc. In addition to the execution of related technological and scientific cutting-edge research, we plan to conduct humanities and social science related research on communication and consensus building related to the public policy making process, such as risk/benefit analysis.
We plan for expansion into new academic disciplines which will also reach into economics and management. With a focus on research for planning of cities and industrial areas designed to deal with risks posed by natural and industrial disasters, smart cities utilizing clean energy and eco materials, and the creation of safe and secure communities which contribute to new value creation that responds to the aging society, we plan to expand into new academic disciplines which will also reach into economics and management. IAS, which serves as an integrated hub for the field of sustainable living with risk management, is the first of its kind in the world.
The Director of IAS is the President of YNU, and handles the selection of research fields, selection of staff, and organizational management in a top-down fashion. An advisory council consisting mainly of external members will be established, which makes possible to make decisions in order to match the needs of the times. In addition, research strategy managers will be allocated to cultivate new research fields and match up researchers from inside and outside of YNU. By expanding the cutting-edge management method adopted by IAS for university-wide use, we plan to implement a new management system which will provide a spark for university-wide reforms, etc.
The research results of this hub will be connected not only to research guidance at graduate schools of YNU but also to the adoption of new educational programs at colleges of YNU. These research results will be utilized for the creation of new colleges that correspond to social needs and educational reforms for existing colleges.
As we have addressed above, IAS aims for the dynamic and rapid improvement of research capabilities through heavy concentration on people, things, and capital without being bound to traditional frameworks of fields and study areas. Also IAS aims to create new academic fields which use the international city of Yokohama as a resource. In fields including risk management, architecture, urban innovation, and clean energy, we want to make contributions to innovation by inviting the best researchers from Japan and abroad to carry out collaborative research and by forming a global research hub which is connected with strengthening Japan’s industrial competitiveness.