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Top>Education>Chuo University Faculty of Economics: "Developing High-Level Professionals Focused on Regional Revitalization"


Hiroshige Tanaka

Hiroshige Tanaka [Profile]

Chuo University Faculty of Economics: "Developing High-Level Professionals Focused on Regional Revitalization"

(Project selected for the MEXT's "Program for Promoting High-Quality University Education (Education GP)" in the 2008 academic year)

Hiroshige Tanaka
Professor of Public Economics, Environmental Economics, Faculty of Economics, Chuo University

Image of the professionals that the project seeks to cultivate

In a society with increasing globalization and decentralization of government, various regional problems cannot be solved by responsible municipal governments alone. It is necessary for the government to cooperate with and utilize the strength of corporations and citizens in order to construct a system for the resolution of regional problems. The framework of PPP (Public-Private Partnerships) has become essential to regional society. A sustainable society will not be realized if the only individuals taking responsibility for the solution of regional problems are employees of the municipal government or central government. Furthermore, unless a specific and clear method for realizing regional sustainability is established, there will be no development of professionals who are capable of implementing this framework of cooperative regional governance.

Within this project, students will spend their time at university studying methods for response to regional governance issues. This course of study will be conducted within the process of seriously considering one's life plan, including career selection. Through such a course of study, the project aims to develop professionals who, after graduating from university, are capable of exerting leadership in the solution of a broad range of regional issues from a variety of positions. The project also seeks to actively respond to the issue of cultivating professionals who will bear responsibility for "the construction of recyclable society systems," for "the formation of environmentally conscious social networks," and for other demands of modern society.

Project background

The framework of this project was gradually formed from a series of activities implemented by Chuo University with the aim of contributing to the regional environment. These activities include the establishment of the Chuo Research Unit for Global Environment in 1998, the publishing of the academic journal entitled "Global Environmental Policy in Japan" in 1999, and the start of recruitment for "Global Environment Theses by High School Students" in 2001. Supervisors of these activities created a plan to discover the orientation for university projects from among practical responses to regional environmental issues. Supervisors also implemented activities for regional contribution held together with TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Power Company) (Tama Challenge Campus; 2002, 2003), and implemented joint programs for regional environmental reform together with Hachioji City and Hino City. Project goals were established from these practical activities and from advanced global case research in this field. The goals were defined as 1) creating a sustainable system featuring a partnership between our university, regional citizens and regional government, and 2) constructing within this system a program for regional revitalization featuring participation and cooperation from university students. The project was given the name of the "Chuo-Hachioji Method."

In order for this method to expand and develop in many different regions, it was necessary to substantiate the effectiveness of the method's education for professionals in the field of regional revitalization. Necessary evidence was provided by the "Regional Revitalization using the "Chuo-Hachioji Method" (2004 to 2006 academic year), a program which was selected for the "Contemporary GP (Support Program for Contemporary Educational Needs)" of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT). The program was based upon a core of graduate school education at Chuo University and consisted of implementing various types of joint projects between our university and Hachioji City, Hino City, and Shiwa Town (Iwate Prefecture). The program contributed to recognition of the effectiveness of the Chuo-Hachioji Method by regional citizens and government. Furthermore, within this pioneering program, it was observed that students were being cultivated by experts in regional activities and by municipal government. This resulted in a firm understanding of how personnel development conducted by regional society is effective for university education.

The educational results and influence exerted upon career formation for students who participated in the program are embodied by the existence of three types of students. The first type is students who entered a workplace such as a municipal government or corporation where it is possible to continue performing similar activities. The second type is students who entered graduate school of Chuo University in order to conduct further systematic studies of the meaning and possibility of application for such activities. Finally, the third type is students who recognized the difference between the Chuo-Hachioji Method and mere volunteer activities, and who wish to use their knowledge of the activities as a tool for creating a life plan for the future. From all of the cases, it was confirmed that a close partnership with education conducted at universities is essential for the development of practical education which consists of solving issues onsite.

Overseas cooperative projects

One feature of this cooperative project is that a methodology of regional revitalization using the Chuo-Hachioji Method is developed in the Cluster Education Program of the Faculty of Economics, which was implemented as a new curriculum from the 2007 academic year. Another feature is the coordination of practical field experience with systematic study performed at our university. The following cities have been set as locations for field education: Hachioji City, Hino City and Machida City (Tokyo Prefecture), Chichibu City (Saitama Prefecture), Shiwa Town (Iwate Prefecture), and the city of Tianjin (China). At each field location, in response to the issues confronting each area, a variety of projects are constructed which feature partnerships with the region. The following is record of performance for international cooperative projects that were newly conducted from this project.

(1) Holding of the "East Asia Sustainable Development Forum" (October 26th, 2009) in Tianjin, China

The city of Tianjin (China) possesses a development area that boasts the top performance in economic growth among the entire country during the past 10 years. In order to designate Tianjin as a site for fieldwork of the cooperative project, preparations with the Tianjin University of Science & Engineering began from 2006. It was then determined that a cooperative project would be implemented between Chuo University and the institution responsible for the urban planning policy of Tianjin. A system was constructed in which the Tianjin University of Science & Engineering acts as the education institution on the Chinese side to provide support to Chuo University. Then, in October of 2009, in accordance with this international cooperative framework, students used their experiences in Japan to conduct policy recommendation in Tianjin. Students participating in this project had no accurate knowledge regarding the environmental issues of China, and also had difficulty obtaining local information from China. Therefore, in order to resolve difficulties which needed to be overcome in order to make policy recommendations, an educational plan was established according to the following three steps.

In the first step, instructors were invited from China and an attempt was made to increase student's interest in the environmental issues of China through lectures regarding economic growth and environmental issues in China's Tianjin District and Kunming City (Yunan Province). In the second step, selection was performed for issues of policy recommendation, instruction was given regarding research of issues, and the Japanese and Chinese textbooks necessary for student research were created. Participation in the project was secured through FLP environmental programs which can be taken for credit by students throughout the entire university. In the third step, from April of 2009, students were instructed by Chuo University faculty as part of "practical exercises," "public cluster special courses," and "FLP practical exercises" in the Faculty of Economics. Instruction was performed in accordance with themes that were set through deliberation by Japanese and Chinese experts. Also, in July, instructors from the Chinese side were invited to our university and a midterm report was given by Chuo students. Furthermore, in October, an international forum was held between two Japanese teams and two Chinese teams. The Chinese side was represented by one team from the Tianjin University of Science & Engineering and by one team from the Beijing University of International Business and Economics. Requirements stipulated that advance presentations of theses be made by both the Japanese team (Japanese, Chinese) and the Chinese team (Japanese, Chinese, English). The Japanese FLP team won the award for most outstanding thesis. Japanese students were given the opportunity to conduct field study by touring the most advanced facilities of Tianjin's city farm, garbage power plant and sewage processing plant. The Chinese side gave high evaluation to Chuo University's environmentally conscious industrial growth strategy and policy proposals in relation to the behavioral indicators of citizens. An agreement was made to conduct further research as the international joint research theme of 2010.

(2) London Accord
The guildhall located adjacent to the London Accord Headquarters

The guildhall located adjacent to the London Accord Headquarters

One of the goals of this cooperative project is to create an understanding among students regarding the effectiveness of a system developed in a region with advanced public-private partnerships. This goal is achieved through cooperation with the city of London. For this purpose, from 2006, the supervisors of this program have continued activities to support the international projects of public-private partnerships, while at the same time cooperating in the "London Accord." The London Accord is a sustainable environmental project that is implemented through the joint efforts of English government and the city of London, which is a region with advanced public-private partnerships. Currently, in addition to reading together with students the material which is sent periodically from London, faculty of our university also instruct students while focusing on the implementation of two-way communication that also transmits policy information from Japan. Actually, our university also continues to periodically make policy proposals. A thesis entitled "The Sustainable Framework of Climate Change and Financial Crises 2008-09New window" was highly evaluated by a London-based research group as a theoretical basis for climate change strategy in England, and the thesis was also introduced on the website of the same research group. The program is expected to make further contributions to the global climate change issues that are led by England.

Activity strategy in domestic fields

An overview of activity planning for work in various domestic fields during the 2009 academic year is given below.

(1) Program with Hino City, Tokyo Prefecture

This program contributes to improved functionality at the Environmental Information Center of Hino City. Furthermore, in regards to the following three priority items, the program supports activities for the improvement of administrative capabilities and regional governance capabilities in Hino City.

  • Development and reform of potential operational capacity in relation to regional revitalization.
  • Improved functionality of information for regional revitalization.
  • Improved functionality at the Environmental Information Center of Hino City.

Furthermore, the program supports improvement and reform for the functionality of the Environmental Information Center so that the facilities are not used by only a portion of citizens. Instead, the program seeks to have the project of Hino City serve as a center for participation-based regional revitalization activities that promote regional revitalization.

(2) Program with Hachioji City, Tokyo Prefecture

The features of the program in Hachioji City include the creation of a regional environment diagnosis index named "Check-Do" and the development of "Hachioji City Environmental Diagnosis Professionals" who serve as the core of regional environmental activities. These measures are conducted through activities by the previously discussed Contemporary GP entitled "Regional Revitalization using the Chuo-Hachioji Method." Currently, the program with Hachioji City focuses on providing support for regional revitalization events within environmental festivals which are held with the goal of spreading the "Check-Do" activities performed by Environmental Diagnosis Professionals. Furthermore, following such events, the program focuses on student cooperation in the management of regional environmental reform activities which are autonomously implemented by Environmental Diagnosis Professionals.

(3) Program with Machida City, Tokyo Prefecture

From a survey on new energy performed in Machida City, Chuo University Education GP

This program consists of creating pamphlets used in the promotion of projects for new energy. The pamphlets serve as fundamental material for the development of policies for new energy. The program also features cooperation with Machida City in order to conduct an awareness survey among citizens, as well as analysis of survey results. Through these activities, the program provides fundamental material used in policies for new energy in Machida City. The material gained through these activities provides valuable suggestions for a path to the low-carbon society which is a goal of Japan.

(4) Program with Shiwa Town, Iwate Prefecture

This program provides support required for the implementation of plans for regional overall environmental policy in Shiwa Town, Iwate Prefecture. Specifically, the program is summarized into the items listed below. Policy methods are developed for sustainable regional governance that can be applied to a great number of regions.

  • Creation of a regional environmental map.
  • Support for "Environmental Meister Courses."
  • Creation of a revised version of the "Check-Do" environmental index.
  • Regional environmental diagnosis survey performed by citizens.
  • Support for revision of fundamental environmental planning.
(5) Program with Chichibu City, Saitama Prefecture

This program consists of activities for supporting the promotion of reforestation programs and regional revitalization programs in Chichibu City, Saitama Prefecture.

Closing thoughts

The feature of this program is how students are given experience in the process of devising and implementing a variety of policy methods that contribute to the revitalization of various regions. Due to a lack of specialized knowledge, some students in the program have an insufficient understanding regarding the relationship between the meaning of individual activities and the social system as a whole. However, students obtain a great sense of achievement and satisfaction through activities in each field. Based on the desire for learning that exists in students who have gained knowledge regarding such fields, instructors have students report on their experiences numerous times, while at the same time considering together with students the meaning of such activities. The implementation of this kind of step-by-step education will further increase the effectiveness of this program and will provide a path to the new development of future-oriented and practical education.

Reference URL

Chuo University Faculty of Economics, Education GPNew window
Global Environmental Policy in JapanNew window
Faculty-Linkage Program (FLP)New window

Hiroshige Tanaka
Professor of Public Economics, Environmental Economics, Faculty of Economics, Chuo University
Born in Fukuoka Prefecture in 1950. In 1977, completed the Doctoral Program at the Kyushu University Faculty of Economics. Holds a Ph.D. (Economics). From 1977, served as Instructor and then Assistant Professor at Kyushu Kyoritsu University. From 1983, served as Assistant Professor at Kumamoto University. Assumed his current position in 1993. Has published a great number of written works including "Market Mechanisms & Public Policy" (1988, Kyushu University Publishing Association), "An Aging Population, Internationalization & Regional Development" (1990, Chuo Economics Co.), and "An Economic Analysis of Cost -Benefit" (2003, Chuo University Publishing Dept.). His research themes focus on modern political issues such as "role-sharing between the market and public activities," "economic approach to environmental issues," and "planning, implementation and evaluation of regional sustainability."

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