History

In March 2000 Okayama University published its 21st-century Okayama University Concept, which defines the key concept of the University’s reforms, and the comprehensive slogan for academic activities, as "the harmonious coexistence of humankind and nature." To actualize this concept, drastic reforms were implemented with the aim of transforming Okayama University into a comprehensive academic institution that emphasizes postgraduate education and research, drawing on its basic organization comprising 11 faculties, one affiliated research center, one nationwide joint-use facility and one general hospital.

Our new postgraduate organization consisted of: the Graduate School of Humanities and Social Sciences, to which are attached the undergraduate Faculty of Letters, the Faculty of Education, the Faculty of Law and the Faculty of Economics; the Graduate School of Medicine, Dentistry and Pharmaceutical Sciences, to which are attached the undergraduate Medical School, Dental School and Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences; and the Graduate School of Natural Science and Technology, to which are attached the undergraduate Faculty of Science, the Faculty of Engineering, the Faculty of Environmental Science and Technology, and the Faculty of Agriculture, as well as the Institute of Plant Science and Resources and the Institute for Study of the Earth’s Interior.

In academic year 2003, an Okayama University research project, "Strategic Solid Waste Management for Sustainable Society," led by members of the Faculty of Environmental Science and Technology and involving members of the Faculties of Engineering, Medicine, Economics and Law, was selected by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology as one of the 21st Century COE Programs. This designation was considered an example of the actualization of Okayama University’s comprehensive slogan for academic activities, "the harmonious coexistence of humankind and nature." As cooperative members, agricultural specialists also joined the research project, transforming it into an interdisciplinary forum working toward realizing a recycling-oriented society and the formation of a full-fledged waste management research base. This new development gave rise to the idea of establishing a graduate school of environmental science that transversely integrates the aforementioned three Graduate Schools, from the perspective that our postgraduate organization should be sufficiently flexible and fluid to respond appropriately to requirements of the times. Consequently, on April 1, 2005 the Graduate School of Environmental Science was established at Okayama University.

The Graduate School of Environmental Science originally functioned as an international education and research hub for environmental science - mainly for the Asia-Pacific region - while training future Environmental Science researchers and human resources with highly specialized knowledge and skills to meet society’s expectations.

Meanwhile, the Division of Bioscience of the Graduate School of Natural Science and Technology initially comprised staff in the fields of fundamental biology, bioengineering and agricultural production science. Staff in the fields of bioengineering and fundamental biology jointly promoted the development of biotechnologies, the Division’s major goal being to apply thus-developed biotechnologies to agricultural production. Subsequent years have seen rapid progress in the development of biotechnologies, until now there is increasing need to promote research and development in search for better and wider applications of such technologies. In April 2012 we responded to this need by reorganizing the Graduate School of Environmental Science into the Graduate School of Environmental and Life Science, integrating agriculture-related departments previously belonging to the Division of Bioscience of the Graduate School of Natural Science and Technology so as to secure collaboration with environment-related disciplines. The task of the newly established Graduate School of Environmental and Life Science is to research and develop agricultural production technologies, in tandem with the preservation and management of production environments.

This reorganization has enabled us to advance education and research focusing on sustainable food production, a cornerstone of human existence, as well as education and research formerly pursued by the Graduate School of Environmental Science toward realizing a recycling-oriented society. Through these endeavors, the Graduate School of Environmental and Life Science is committed to establishing a new academic framework that defines environmental and food issues as national and global challenges.