Iwate University established its Division of Regional Innovation and Management in April 2017 as a cross-disciplinary education system to cultivate human resources that can contribute to the reconstruction of disaster areas and the creation of a sustainable society in Iwate Prefecture and the North Tohoku Region, from the three perspectives of: 1) Developing industries to become the center of regional revitalization (livelihoods); 2) Creating safe and secure towns based on experiences from the disaster (safety and security); and 3) Promoting the physical and mental health of local residents (lifestyles), based on the achievements of reconstruction after the Great East Japan Earthquake and previous initiatives to cooperate with the community.
Our reason for establishing the Division of Regional Innovation and Management was the complexity of the various problems facing regional society and the inability of practical education learned in an undergraduate program to face these problems, as they require a series of specialized teams with the ability to solve problems backed up by deep specialized knowledge and the ability to look at the big picture. We believe that this division will enable students that have acquired a foundation of regional awareness and specialized knowledge in their undergraduate studies to then tackle regional issues as their research theme in graduate school, while developing their specialized knowledge in all directions, and thereby become able to gain advancedability to solve the problems facing today's regional communities, such as disaster areas. Our undergraduate programs also focus on regionally-oriented education based on COC (Center of Community) business and we have started practical education with PBL (Project Based Learning) subjects such as regional assignments, but there was a limit to how advanced the content of the assignments could get as the students have not yet established their area of expertise. Furthermore, many of the internships conducted during undergraduate programs focus on workplace experience and it is rare for them to involve advanced practical training that enables students to utilize their specialized knowledge to solve problems together with a company, etc. At the Division of Regional Innovation and Management, we aim to select important specialized fields thought to be particularly required by the regional community, regardless of whether they are humanities or sciences, and cultivate teams of human resources that can perform regional innovation with a high degree of specialization in various fields and a comprehensive perspective.
Furthermore, while there is a concern of similar problems such as an earthquake occurring inside or outside of Japan, Iwate University will aim to transmit initiatives for regional innovation to Japan and the world, in order to contribute to the creation of a sustainable society.