Okayama University


Marking its 70 anniversary, Okayama University holds the international symposium:

July 16, 2019

Okayama University was chosen this year as the first national university in Japan to be a partner of the U.S. Department of State’s “Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) Program,” which provides excellent American university undergraduate and graduate students with an opportunity to intensively learn the Japanese language and culture. As part of our 70th anniversary celebrations, we held an international symposium entitled “Toward Greater Okayama as the Center for the U.S. and Japan Youth Development to Advance the SDGs” (co-hosted by the Center for Japanese Studies, University of Michigan) at the University’s 50th Anniversary Hall on July 6.

After an address by President MAKINO Hirofumi, keynote speeches were delivered by David Patton, President of American Councils, which operates the CLS Program, with the title “Towards the exchange of Japanese and American young people for sustainable development goals (SDGs),” and by TSUTSUI Kiyoteru, Director of the University of Michigan Center for Japanese Studies, “University of Michigan Japan Research Center and Okayama Field Station.”

These lectures were followed by Panel Discussions I & II by six panelists. In Panel Discussion I, held with YOKOI Atsufumi, Vice President for Global Engagement Strategy, as the facilitator, Okayama University President MAKINO, American Councils President PATTON, HIRASHITA Fumiyasu, Deputy Director-General for International Affairs of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) and Senior Deputy Secretary-General of the Japanese National Commission for UNESCO, two students currently participating in the CLS Program, and one Okayama University student engaged in lively discussions under the title of “Talent and Leadership Development to Enhance Cross-Cultural Exchange and Collaboration Between the U.S. and Japan.”

In Panel Discussion II, with OHARA Akane, President of the Ohara Museum of Art, as the facilitator, discussions were held under the title of “The Skills and Knowledge Required for Sustainable Development in Okayama” by IBARAGI Ryuta, Governor of Okayama Prefecture, Director TSUTSUI, Andrew McCullough, Assistant Director of the CLS Program, two students currently participating in the CLS Program, and one Okayama University student. This synposium was attended by about 200 persons, including high school and university students, representatives from private companies and administrative authorities, and those from Okayama University.

This symposium was held with a focus on the development of next-generation human resources and the promotion of research exchanges and interregional exchanges through activities toward the SDGs making full use of the advantages of Okayama Prefecture, aiming for a new phase in U.S.-Japan relations and further promotion of mutual understanding, with the approach of the 70th anniversary of the opening the University of Michigan’s Okayama Field Station (2020). Right after the end of the war, the Okayama Field Station was established as the only American research center in Japan to promote Americans’ understanding of the Japanese people and culture. This symposium is expected to help further facilitate American people’s understanding of the efforts of Okayama University and the local community toward SDGs, and to help make invigorate such efforts.