Activity Report

Activity Report of Open Application Course vol.12

Studying sustainable and advanced agricultural and environmental technologies in Okayama
- Aiming to achieve the SDGs-

Report from Inamori Takao of Okayama University

From September 10 to September 16, 2019, eleven invitees (ten students and one supervisor) from Kasetsart University (Thailand) participated in a program to study various technologies related to agricultural production, the global environment, and environmental conservation from the perspective of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Students wore “Kasetsart University” T-shirts on their visit to Japan

The SDGs are international goals which were adopted by the United Nations in 2015. Based on the philosophy and objectives of the SDGs, Okayama University is aiming to achieve a sustainable society and taking university-wide measures to address issues which we face.

The awareness for SDGs and the number of SDGs-related initiatives are increasing every year; however, it is still not enough. Therefore, Thai students in the program began by deepening their understanding towards the SDGs through lectures and games related to the SDGs. Specifically, they played a sugoroku-style game by answering multiple choice questions with three answers as created by the United Nations. There were many SDG-related matters of which the students were not aware, and the students reaffirmed the importance of the SDGs.

Students deepen their understanding of the SDGs through SDGs-related games

A tour of the research facilities was held at the Faculty of Agriculture, Institute of Plant Science and Resources, Okayama University (in Kurashiki City) and at the Institute for Planetary Materials, Okayama University (in Misasa Town, Tottori Prefecture). Students learned about the material cycle and the role of living organisms in forests, environmentally friendly pest management methods, and other knowledge, cutting-edge analytical instruments, and experimental methods that can be applied in Thailand.

Observing experiments using an ultra-high pressure generator at the Institute for Planetary Materials, Okayama University

In the field, students learned about the production of crops, flowers, vegetables, and fruit trees, as well as greening of walls as a measure against global warming. Okayama is famous for its production of peaches and grapes. Upon witnessing the beauty of the peaches and grapes which were provided for taste-testing, the students first took countless photos before eating. Once they tasted the fruit, the students were thrilled by the delicious flavor.

The invited students eagerly asked questions about peaches harvested at Okayama University

The presence of international students studying in Japan was key to these tours and experiences. All the invitees were eager to know about the research activities and life of international students in Japan. Actually, a graduate student from Kasetsart University where the invitees attend school is currently studying abroad at the Institute of Plant Science and Resources. This connection enabled invitees to feel closer to the idea of studying abroad in Japan.

Invited students listen closely to the research of international students

In addition to touring research facilities, students visited Okayama Korakuen Garden, Okayama Castle, Okayama Municipal Kyoyama Kominkan, Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter, Itsukushima Shrine, Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, 5-Days Children's Museum (Hiroshima City, Hiroshima Prefecture), and the Tottori Sand Dunes. Students of Okayama University also went along on the visits in order to deepen exchange between students. Although their stay in Japan was only seven days, the students were able to take a wealth of knowledge and experience back to Thailand. We hope that each of the invited students will take initiatives to achieve the SDGs.

This marks the fourth time that the program was held. In addition to stimulating exchange with Kasetsart University, increasing the number of exchange students at Okayama University, and increasing the number of interns at domestic universities, the program has also resulted in Thai students entering the Okayama University Graduate School as discussed above. Once the invited students return to their native country and widely spread information on their experiences in Japan, we believe that exchange between universities will be invigorated even further.

Thanks to support from stakeholders, we were able to successfully complete the recent program. We will continue to engage in exchange in order to realize the Sakura Science Exchange Program’s objectives of strengthening friendship, promoting globalization, and developing outstanding human resources.