The Research Institute for Humanity and Nature (RIHN) was established in April 2001 as an inter-university research institute corporation to conduct integrated research in global environmental studies. Our mission is to conduct integrated research that will resolve global environmental problems, guided by our awareness that the global environmental problems find their roots in human culture. Environmental degradation can be understood as an imbalance in the interaction between human beings and natural systems, and our goal is to decide what must be done to establish a dynamic interplay that will be sustainable in the future. We will conduct solution-oriented research in search of the ideal interaction of humanity and nature, in addition to academic research spanning the natural sciences, humanities, and social sciences, while also considering regional characteristics and historical contexts.
RIHN has been part of the inter-university research institute corporation, the National Institutes for the Humanities since its incorporation in fiscal year 2004. Since fiscal 2010, under Phase II medium-term plans and targets, the future design initiatives were proposed, and we incorporated a system of conducting research by adopting the methods of design science. In October of 2010, we published the Encyclopedia of Global Environmental Studies, portions of which have now been translated into English in order to make RIHN’s completed research more accessible to an international audience. To reinforce our role and function as an interuniversity research institute corporation, in fiscal year 2012 the network-based Global Environment Repository Project was established to resolve global environmental problems, and we have been constructing the infrastructure that will allow it to be used by universities and research institutes throughout Japan. Beginning in fiscal 2014, we introduced an institutional collaboration project to conduct joint research based on agreements with universities and other organizations.
In addition, we are now collaborating in a large-scale international project, Future Earth, aiming for a sustainable global society through integrated global environmental studies. These initiatives have earned the RIHN respect for its research activities that have, until now, focused on Asia, and in September 2014, it was designated as the Asian hub for Future Earth.
This fiscal year is the final year of our Phase II medium-term plan, and we are now summarizing our Phase II research achievements while aiming for new achievements in global environment studies as we enter Phase III.
RIHN solicits, develops, funds, and hosts research projects lasting from between three to five years. Projects conduct high quality basic research; they are always multi-disciplinary and based on multiple methodologies. All projects are subject to a rigorous course of internal and external review. Proposals are developed over the course of 1-3 years (the periods of Incubation- and Feasibility-Study shown below), before entering 3-5 years of Full Research. Research projects are conducted within one of three structures.
Individual collaboration projects are proposed by Japanese or international researchers. Institutional collaboration projects are designed to facilitate close collaboration between RIHN and other leading institutes of environmental study in Japan. Initiative-based project proposals are generated within the institute itself. These proposals are formulated through a process of internal reflection of the strengths and weaknesses in current and past RIHN research as well as ongoing institute engagement with emerging themes in international research.