Philosophy and Goals
The Research Institute for Humanity and Nature (RIHN) promotes research activities aimed atcontributing to solving global environmental problems based on the following vision and mission.
To strive for the realization of an equitable, fair and sustainable society globally by formulating how the relationship of people and nature to be, from the community to global scale.
To lead the way in the comprehensive study of the environment that aims for a practice directed towards solving global environmental problems and a fundamental and inclusive understanding of the mutual interaction of humans and nature, based on interdisciplinary research that fuses humanities, social science and natural science and as well as transdisciplinary research that cooperates and collaborates with society.
RIHN recognizes that global environmental problems are a challenge common to all humankind, and conducts research based on the foundations of various academic fields. In this context, we approach issues from a slightly different perspective from that of conventional research. The accumulation of research in individual academic fields may be insufficient by itself to approach the essence of global environmental problems. We believe that what is needed is not a partial understanding, but a holistic understanding of the relationships formed by the interaction of humans and nature. To realize this, we are promoting “integrated global environmental studies” as the pursuit of comprehensive knowledge incorporating interdisciplinary research that combines the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences in combination with a transdisciplinary approach that aims to solve problems in cooperation with society.
According to Dr. HIDAKA Toshitaka who is the first director of RIHN, “Global environmental problems are a matter of human culture in the broadest sense of the word.” This means that it is a matter of culture whether we revere nature, desecrate it, feel it to be part of us, or consider it a resource to be used. Furthermore, we need to learn not only from the various cultures on the planet today, but also from the cultures of the past. An important issue in this context is what kind of culture based on the view of nature (view of Earth), that is, what kind of relationship between humans and nature, we should build in the future on a global scale based on the recognition that culture is rooted in the nature of each local region.
In response to this challenge, we have adopted the concept of “futurability,” which extends beyond the commonly used concept of sustainability. This is because it is more important to search for possibilities that will enable future generations to live better (futurability) than to find ways for us to sustain our current lives (sustainability). While understanding and considering the current problems, we must think of ways to leave the planet to the generations of our grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and more in a state that is more livable than it is today.
In 2001, the year RIHN was established, the UNESCO General Conference in Paris signed the Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity. Article 1 of this declaration states: “As a source of exchange, innovation, and creativity, cultural diversity is as necessary for humankind as biodiversity is for nature.” In Article2, it states: “It is essential to ensure harmonious interaction among people and groups with plural, varied, and dynamic cultural identities as well as their willingness to live together.” Today, as the information and communication revolution progresses and urban dwellers account for about half the world’s total population, cultural diversity and its values are rapidly disappearing.
Furthermore, we have now reportedly entered the “Anthropocene” era, a new geological age in which the effects of human activities have become apparent in every corner of the planet. The depletion of limited resources, deterioration of the biosphere, and pollution of the atmosphere and hydrosphere are progressing on a global scale, and problems are piling up. To solve these problems, the amelioration of which are included in the SDGs of the United Nations, as issues common to all humankind, it is necessary to create new values through various dialogues and exchanges while taking advantage of diverse values. Futurability expresses our desire to further establish “integrated global environmental studies” that consider what the future of people and Earth should be.
To achieve integrated global environmental studies, RIHN conducts interdisciplinary research traversing the academic foundations of the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences, as well as problem-solving transdisciplinary research in collaboration and cooperation with society. We believe research should contribute to solving real-world problems, and we promote a collaborative approach in which researchers and people in society work together to uncover problems and find new frameworks and solutions.