Understanding environment through culture, UEHIRO×WASEDA Seminar series

Final Report (Nanako Terada)

Expanding Ideas on Potentials of the Road to Sustainability

On our first day of class, we were assigned to draw our own “ideal sustainable chair”. This exercise seemed simple at first, but as I contemplated on this, it actually turned out to be more difficult than I had expected. What are the definitions for sustainability? Do we have to consider not only human species but also other living creatures to attain a sustainable environment? In the end, I decided to draw a chair that would help slow down global warming. However, now coming to the end of the course, I realized that attaining a sustainable society is of course not all about global warming. There are various aspects with nature and culture that we need to consider in achieving such a sustainable society. This assignment really became a great introduction for me to become a starter in thinking how sustainability is a theme that closely relates to my surroundings, and has eventually led me into viewing this from a wider context.

For the symposium, I presented in the ‘policy group’, introducing the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy and the amendment of the subsidy system. Before the amendment, the money was distributed based on the size of the farms, but now, farmers are subsidized depending on the food production and how well they care for the health of the land and the surrounding environment. Due to the change in policies there are expectations in attaining better chances of fighting climate change, attaining stable food security, enhancing diversity of species, reduced poverty, and improved health…etc. This will help make effective use of the commons, and bring awareness to the people in the farming industry to consider how their ways of farming has great influence on whether we take a step towards a sustainable society, or go the other way. Presenting on this theme made me consider how we follow rules regulated by authority, but tend to ignore certain inconvenient occurrences when we do not have restrictions. For instance, people may stop dropping cigarettes on the road if they were charged fines, but without such penalties, there are still people who litter on the road. This may seem a trivial aspect of life, but throughout this semester, I felt that we could work individually, beginning from how we interact with our surrounding environment, and eventually, the thousands, millions, and billions of individual effort would become a gigantic force to step toward the achievement of sustainability.

Visiting Kamakura and Takahata was a great experience for me to see all the effort and care the local people put in their farming and to the land. In our fieldtrip to Kamakura, Wada-san provided us an opportunity to learn the techniques in farming which are beneficial for the health of the land and for the consumers . It was a wonderful experience to actually cook and taste the vegetables. In daily life, I am usually just a consumer so it was a rare chance to be in both positions of the producer and the consumer at the same time. It gave me a deeper understanding to the cycle of nature, and how it is an inseparable aspect to human life. In Takahata, I was fascinated by the history of pioneering in organic farming. We had many occasions to hear the local farmers share their stories, and what I remember the most is their love and pride for what they produce and the close connection they have with the land. Hearing these episodes, it made me think how vital it is not only to care and aim to achieve a sustainable environment, but also to love the nature and the culture.

I believe that awarenessis one of the greatest mindsets I gained through this semester. This awareness refers to being sensitive to what is happening in my surrounding environment, and also to the endeavors of the world challenging themselves in becoming friendly to nature. I have learned about SDGs before, but this semester had been an enriching experience to learn more about sustainability in ecological ethics through lectures and fieldworks, which helped me deepen my understanding through my mind and through experience. I look forward to take on discussions of sustainability to another level in the future, and continue keeping my eye’s open for upcoming news.


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