Director of the WISE Program for
Sustainability in the Dynamic Earth

Michihiko Nakamura
Department of Earth Science,
Tohoku University

Challenges for us who bridge advanced knowledge
with the human society and live with the dynamic Earth.

Japan is the country of disasters. Reflecting over the last several years, natural disasters, such as typhoons, torrential rains, floods, landslides, heavy snowfall, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions have frequently struck Japan with little relief in between. Scientists and experts around the world are raising an alarm on the risk of climate disasters due to long-term climate changes (not only possibilities but also including risks that have materialized).

Natural disasters not only present a direct threat to lives and properties by virtue of the behavior of the natural world, but also pose further difficulties and obstacles to our lifestyle, society, industries, and economy owing to their widespread impact. We need to minimize the negative ripple effect that spreads through the complex interdependence of each function, and promote sustainable development, which is the goal for all humanity. To achieve this, we need leaders equipped with insight and understanding of the Earth, environment, and disasters, and who can bridge advanced knowledge with practice in human society.

At the "WISE Program for Sustainability in the Dynamic Earth*", we foster "knowledge professionals" who have foresight, advanced knowledge, flexible thinking, and excellent communication skills; these are achieved through extensive problem-solving via a confluence of liberal arts education involving a wide range of research fields, private companies and organizations, and research facilities, and through education in which foreign academic and research facilities collaborate. During the five years of the master's and doctorate degree programs, students learn alongside peers who are multi-lingual and have diverse perspectives. Students get trained in problem-solving abilities in real-life situations, and study with the world as their subject. In this manner, the potential of each person is cultivated. The opportunities for our graduates are not limited to domestic private companies but also include universities, research facilities, government offices, global companies, and international organizations. Our challenges on this dynamically evolving Earth have already begun.

*WISE Program (Doctoral Program for World-leading Innovative & Smart Education). Each university incorporates the results from past graduate school reforms with their strengths at the core, and systematically collaborates with domestic and international universities, research facilities, and private companies. A five-year graduate program inculcates educational and research prowess at the highest global standard. In this manner, we foster outstanding doctorates who lead various sectors. In addition, this program drives the effort to create a superior base where talents are fostered, interactions are promoted, and new joint research ventures are sustainably created. In fiscal years 2018 and 2019, 15 projects from 13 universities and 11 projects from nine universities were accepted. We offer two more WISE programs - "Advanced Graduate Program for Future Medicine and Health Care" and "WISE Program for AI Electronics", in addition to the present program (as of December 2019).