learn from the world and return to the community, Manufacturing and environmental technology education

Summative evaluation and future directions

On March 5, 2010, a forum was organized at the Meitetsu Toyama Hotel for the purpose of giving a summative evaluation of the Contemporary GP efforts conducted over three years by the Toyama National College of Technology and finding future directions for ESD at the college.

At the opening of the forum, President Masaaki Yoneda gave an address: “The academic year 2009 was the last year of our college’s contemporary GP program. We would like to incorporate the results into our curricula to practice ‘ESD specific to the Toyama National College of Technology’ for the academic year 2010 and onwards.” After this, activity reports were presented by the representative of each project as follows:

  • Outline of ESD at the Toyama National College of Technology / Tetsuji Choji
  • Teaching material development for ESD (robot cars, etc.) / Yoshinori Naruse
  • Overseas internship (including Inner Mongolia, China) / Yoshinori Sakamoto
  • Introduction of ESD to existing classes / Hirofumi Kuroda

Following these, project details were reported as poster presentations at the venue and there were lively exchanges of views with visitors.

Subsequently, a panel discussion, along with comments by two lecturers, provided a summative evaluation on the three-year efforts at the GP program. Five panelists – specializing in environmental education, global businesses, collaboration with science and technology colleges, global education, and overseas internship – were invited to the panel discussion at which they offered opinions from their respective perspectives.

The effort to develop ESD for engineers using the theories and methods of PBL (Problem-Based Learning) was highly rated. It was pointed out that raising basic scholastic proficiency and improving expertise through PBL would also be important in the future. It was also mentioned that there is a limit to how far a single college can go in promoting such efforts, and the importance of collaboration with other technical colleges and universities was discussed. The panelists talked about the expectation that discussions in different values such as those conducted in this project would provide the students with opportunities and settings to create new innovations, thereby allowing the college to be an educational institution that develops along with the community.

In the lecturers’ comments, ESD at the Toyama National College of Technology was highly rated as a result of analysis of ESD at 24 colleges, because of the deep understanding and proper representation of such factors as ethics, values, and involvement, which were weak at other colleges. Their comments also included the expectation that the college would become the forerunner of ESD for engineers through the continuation of these efforts.

Lastly, Vice President Tetsuji Choji gave an address in which he talked about the fact that the Toyama National College of Technology had set up the regional human resource development headquarters and three centers in order to establish a system to continue ESD taking advantage of the reorganization of national colleges of technology for further advancement. He concluded with a mention of future plans to grant credits for international internship and to develop new curricula that would incorporate ESD in existing classes.

Tyama National College of Technology's Approach to ESD

Chairman of the Special Operation Committee / Tetsuji Chohji

Learn from the World, Give Back to Our Community.

The motion picture ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ consists largely of a collection of slide lectures given by former U.S. Vice President Al Gore, currently an ardent activist in addressing global warming issues. The picture drew a fair amount of attention in Japan when it was released in 2007. The Vice President also authored a book under the same title, which inevitably, begs the question: To whom is the truth inconvenient?

In the Toyako Summit held in July 2008, the world leaders agreed to halve the world’s global warming gas by 2050. This agreement was made to seek global cooperation to achieve a low carbon-producing world. The process to the noble goal, however, still remains much to be discussed, as is the case with the 15th annual COP (Conference of Parties) held this time in Copenhagen in December 2009, where ministers and secretaries of green departments gather at the request of UNFCC to discuss the post-effect of the treaty. It is readily deducible that each country’s representatives discussed the problem solely from their own point of view, dismissing any ‘inconvenient’ agenda. A change to suit the 21st century is desperately needed, even though the change could not have sat well with the concept of the previous century. To further promote the cause, we consider Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) essential.

The Place Where We Stand

The establishment of technical college began in 1962. Japan at the time was trying to catch up with western technology, and with that, the country was enjoying high economic growth. Industries began to ask for a new institution; the answer to this request was technical colleges.

Currently, however, as one of the world-leading nation in technology, Japanese industries are forced to trudge a different path. The educational system of technical colleges should also be revamped accordingly to cope with the change. For our graduates to flourish in the most advanced industries of the world, technical colleges have to offer 21st century education. Namely, instead of clinging to the traditional ‘Problem—Deal approach’, we have to shift to an educational program based upon ‘Seek—Solve approach’, in which students acquire comprehensive skill set by venturing into tasks they find interesting, tackle them with ambition and ingeniousness, and give back the fruits to the community.

Toyama National College of Technology, re-established in October 2009, is an integrated institution of former Toyama National College of Technology and former Toyama National College of Maritime Technology. The college, a rare institution embracing both arts and science departments, consists of highly blended engineering faculties, arts faculties, and a maritime technology faculty. We believe we are sharing the same goals as the ESD by being an advocate of Innovation, Globalization, Sustainability and Diversity as our educational goals.

Learn from the World, Give Back to Our Community: Fosterage of Manufacturing Technology Program

Based on our educational track record, we have been searching for new educational systems; one of them is the GP Program—‘Learn from the World, Give Back to Our Community: Fosterage of Manufacturing Technology’. In this program, our aim has been the adoption of the educational program ESD is fulfilling. ESD is an educational method that ties the tasks of the world with our daily life, and aims to create new values and behaviors. ‘Since the sustainable development issues ESD currently tackles contain three highly mixed elements, that is, environment, economy, and community (including politics), to solve the issues, knowledge and methods from a single field of study is not enough, but we have to see them as a whole, and attempts should be made from science, sociology, and arts.’, the program says. These concepts, however, are not limited solely to ESD.

To find solutions to the global environmental issues and develop a sustainable society, we have to solve problems that contain environment, economy, and community (including politics). We cannot achieve the goal with knowledge and methods used only in a single field of study. Scientists were born in the 19th century, and in the next century, science had ramified into countless fields, whose knowledge was systemized by peer reviews in each field of study. In the late 20th century, when the world had begun facing environmental issues as in pollution, ramified fields of study was no longer considered as solutions, and the time called for knowledge generated by crossing over fields of expertise. Technical solutions to the environmental issues are considered to be found only by urging participants from various fields and by maintaining close relationship with various activities occurring outside technology fields.

These backgrounds led us to implement an educational program that blends arts and science. Chief among the program includes the use of TV conference system to interact with foreign countries via the Internet, simulation of technological development in a low-carbon world by studying and building robot cars (computer-installed EV), development of craftsmanship program in a low-carbon world, and student exchange with countries such as Korea, Mongolia, and Northern Ireland. The program also features activities in Malaysia, a popular country of our local industries’ oversea bases. Another feature is the presentation and discussion of our activities in the Asia International Symposium of Eco-Technology, an annually held conference dating back to the former Toyama National College of Technology era. These activities are all based upon our faith of ‘learning from the world, giving back to our community’.

In the first fiscal year, we conducted a thorough research on domestic and overseas ESD and the related programs. In the second fiscal year, we attempted to incorporate some of the ESD programs we had researched into the college’s educational system. In the final fiscal year, we developed these educational programs and completed a unique program that suits the college. As the goal of the program, we will be introducing the program to our curriculum for our freshmen of 2010, also the very first year as the new technical college. The features of ESD should differ largely depending on the organization that carries out the program. It is safe to say that the ESD program presented in this report is unique to Toyama National College of Technology. We hope this report opens many fruitful discussions for the further development of the program.

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