Harvard and Kwansei Gakuin Students Team Up to Discuss Sustainable Development

Public Relations Office        January 8, 2018

The forum stage

The forum stage

On Sunday, January 7th, five students from Kwansei Gakuin University and five students from Harvard University participated in an open forum entitled “Continue to Challenge for the World Issue - Things We Can Do For SDGs,” organized through a collaboration between Kwansei Gakuin University and the student-led Harvard College Japan Initiative. The event was held at the Nishinomiya City University Exchange Center in Nishinomiya.

Group 1

Discussing sustainable development practices in Manila

The opening presentations were given by two mixed groups of students from both universities, and addressed potential ways that localities and countries could work to achieve the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set by the United Nations. Both groups focused primarily on Goal 11, sustainable cities and communities, and Goal 12, responsible consumption and production.

The first group did a cross-city comparative analysis of three major world cities: Los Angeles, Manila, and Osaka. In one section, they looked at what steps are being taken in each city to limit carbon dioxide emissions, and suggested several specific ways for each nation to step up their efforts, such as constructing more green spaces in urban areas in Japan and building up the public transportation infrastructure in the Philippines. Later, they compared waste management practices in the three cities, and talked about the possibility of adopting biomass recycling techniques in Japan, as well as the need to improve environmental awareness in the USA and in the Philippines.

Group 2's presentation

Presenting about E-waste management measures

The second group performed a case study on electronic waste (E-waste) management in Morocco, and proposed ways to improve the current situation, such as the creation of a waste separation plant which would process the E-waste into precious metals for domestic use or for export. The group observed that Morocco already has a strong trade relationship with Japan, as the latter imports Moroccan octopus for consumption, and noted that working together on E-waste management would be mutually beneficial. Both groups emphasized that sustainability begins at the individual level, and that environmental education is essential if nations are going to solve their sustainability challenges.

After the group presentations, there was a panel discussion with the five Harvard students about controversial global issues. The students spoke passionately about the current American administration’s stance on climate change and renewable energy, and how it would affect the global effort to meet the Sustainable Development Goals. Some students felt that America’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement and focus on fossil fuels would have a strongly negative impact. Other students disagreed, saying that other countries such as China, Japan and India would take the lead on combating climate change and developing renewable energy sources.

The forum participants and attendees

The forum participants and attendees

Finally, to close out the forum, the students formed small groups with audience members for a lively exchange of views. Amanda Mozea, a senior majoring in Social Studies at Harvard University, remarked after the event that “People asked a lot of fascinating questions, ‘think about how to solve the world’ questions, which I think is awesome.” Haruki Ume, a junior at the KGU School of Policy Studies, said “I really enjoyed the opportunity to talk with the Harvard students. We discussed sustainable development, which is very complicated, but they helped us, and this event made me stronger for my future dreams.”

The Harvard exchange with KGU, which is shepherded by Prof. Shun-ichi Murata of the KGU School of Policy Studies, began three years ago and was originally just a one-day event. It now spans three days, and with this year’s forum event also a great success, students at KGU and Harvard can look forward to continued fruitful cooperation in the future.