Lancaster’s first partnership launched with a Japanese University

12 April 2019 15:31
The lights of the city and harbour of Nagasaki, Japan shining at night, in front of the two-pillar suspension bridge

A Memorandum of Agreement, signed last month, gave the go-ahead for the bilateral agreement with the University of Nagasaki, which was the first national university in Japan to establish an environmental faculty.

The Lancaster Environment Centre has led the development, the first university wide partnership with Japan, a leading country in fundamental scientific research. It will encourage staff and student exchanges and research collaboration between the universities.

A funded exchange programme for students interested in environmental science is being introduced this summer to inaugurate the initiative. Students from Lancaster University are being offered the opportunity to travel to Japan to carry out research and attend an international summer school at Nagasaki University, with living expenses paid by the Japanese government.

Dr Gabriela Toledo-Ortiz, a plant scientist from the Lancaster Environment Centre, said: “Japan boasts the third highest number of scientists, technicians, and engineers per capita in the world. Our vision at Lancaster is to work across disciplines, and societal and national boundaries, to address the major environmental challenges facing the world.

Kimihiro Yamashita, Dean of the Nagasaki University’s Faculty of Environmental Sciences, said: “We share common aims with the Lancaster Environment Centre in solving global environmental problems and training our students as environmental professionals in a transdisciplinary environment for the benefit of global society.”

The two-month internships, starting in June, will involve students working on research projects, which will be jointly supervised by academics from Nagasaki and the Lancaster Environment Centre.

Four dissertation projects, spanning the natural and social sciences, are being offered covering: bio-waste recycling, coastal geology, the diet of the urban honey bee, and economic analysis of environmental and energy policy. Other, shorter research projects are also available.

Living and accommodation expenses will be covered by the Japanese Student Services Organisation (JASSO), with the successful applicants just having to fund the cost of their flights.

In August, the internees will join other students from across the world at Nagasaki’s two week International Summer School for the Environment, which includes cultural and field visits as well as cross-disciplinary seminars and group work.

In return four undergraduate students from Nagasaki will participate in the Lancaster Environment Centre summer school in July.

Professor Kirk Semple, Director of International Engagement at the Lancaster Environment Centre, said: ”The breadth of expertise across natural and social sciences at Nagasaki University is mirrored here at Lancaster University. This complementarity offers a fantastic opportunity for undergraduate and postgraduate students from both universities to expand their teaching and learning experiences, while offering researchers the chance to develop exciting research collaborations”

“This is a wonderful opportunity for our students,” said Gabriela. “Nagasaki University has expertise covering a broad range of subjects including ecology, volcanology, marine sciences and water and coastal management. It has unique research facilities in the nearby Unzen volcanic park and the coastal bay of Nagasaki prefecture.

“The students will have the chance to gain international research experience, while soaking up the culture of Japan and giving their CV a boost.

“The city of Nagasaki has been the ‘open port to the West’ since 1600 and is one of the friendliest places towards foreigners in Japan, with the country’s biggest Christian population. Teaching on the Summer School is in English and a good percentage of the population speaks some English due to the American influence in the region since the end of the WWII.

It is hoped that the student exchange will become an annual scheme supported by UK-Japan bilateral funding, and that further student and staff exchanges, and research collaborations will develop.

Applications for the internships are open to any Lancaster University UK or EU student with an interest in environmental science, who are producing work at 2:1 level. To apply, or for more information, contact Gabriela on  Closing date is 26 April 2019.

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