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A Look Back at Sustainability Weeks 2016 Program

Ichiro Ueda Executive and Vice-president, Hokkaido University Chairperson of the Committee of Sustainability Weeks

Ichiro Ueda
Executive and Vice-president, Hokkaido University / Chairperson of the Committee of Sustainability Weeks

The Sustainability Weeks program marked its 10th anniversary this year, during which 34 events were held. Participants proposed and discussed how universities, researchers, students and civil society can contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set forth in the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

One of the signature events was the International Symposium held on October 29 and 30 in commemoration of the 10th anniversary of the Sustainability Weeks. Under the common theme of “the Role of Higher Education for SDGs”, sectional meetings were organized by the Hokkaido University Library, the Arctic Research Center, the Helsinki Office, the Graduate School of Education, the Center for Applied Ethics and Philosophy and the Institute for International Collaboration, and discussions were held from many different perspectives. The event highlighted the importance of a learning environment in which students can get involved in social change while learning.

Two contests organized by Hokkaido University students served as active initiatives in which they attempted to contribute to social change. One was the All Japan Intercollegiate English Oratorical Contest for the Potato Cup, while the other was the HULT PRIZE @ Hokkaido University, an international competition for student social entrepreneurship. In both events, students competing in hope for the future came up with solutions to achieve a sustainable society, made presentations in English and convinced judges, including people from the business world. These events provided students with opportunities to learn and develop outside the curriculum by drawing on the knowledge and skills they have acquired through their classes, research and day-to-day lives. Moreover, these events once again reminded me of the important role played by Sustainable Weeks, which support voluntary learning opportunities for students.

Looking back on the past 10 years, a total of 339 events have been held in support of this program that is positioned to promote education and research toward the achievement of a sustainable society, and the number of participants has exceeded 177,000. This means that 339 groups of Hokkaido University faculty members and students have engaged in educational/enlightenment activities, reported outcomes, held discussions and made proposals in pursuit of finding the optimum balance among society, the natural environment and the economy. The hosts and titles of these events remind me of the need for multilateral approaches to the challenges facing the human race. I am also proud of the fact that Hokkaido University is home to abundant human resources and educational/research outcomes that have made these events possible.

Taking advantage of not only this 10-year history and the experience gained through it but also our abundant human resources, we will continue to hold Sustainability Weeks aimed at achieving “Hokkaido University contributing to the resolution of global issues,” our vision for the Future Strategy for the 150th Anniversary of Hokkaido University. We look forward to your continued cooperation in this regard.