Toyoharu NAWA, President
Graduated from the Department of Architectural Engineering, School of Engineering, Hokkaido University. Completed the Master’s course of the Division of Architectural Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, Hokkaido University. Doctor of Engineering (Tokyo Institute of Technology). After working for the Central Laboratory of Chichibu Cement Co., Ltd. (Taiheiyo Cement Corp.) and the Central Cement Concrete Laboratory of Chichibu Onoda Cement Corp., he was hired as an assistant professor in the Graduate School of Engineering, Hokkaido University. He was promoted to his current position in April 2017 after holding the posts of professor in the Graduate School of Engineering, member of the Educational Research Council/deputy dean of the Faculty of Engineering and dean of the Faculty of Engineering /dean of the Graduate School of Engineering/dean of the School of Engineering at Hokkaido University. He specializes in building structures and materials, in civil engineering materials, construction and construction management, and in earth and resource systems engineering.
Maki IKEGAMI, Specially Appointed Associate Professor, Office for a Sustainable Campus
Graduated from the Department of Physics, Graduate School of Science, Tohoku University, Master of Science. Graduated from the Graduate School of Environmental Studies, Tohoku University, Doctor of Philosophy. After holding the post of assistant professor in the Graduate School of Environmental Studies at Tohoku University, she joined Hokkaido University in April 2012 to study the concept of sustainable campuses and whether it would take root in Japan and the rest of East Asia. She has conducted education and research on the establishment of a sustainable campus, a term with various meanings. The Assessment System for Sustainable Campus (ASSC), which is one of her achievements and specifies the roles of universities in society, has been used by universities in Japan and overseas for the development of strategies that seek the establishment of sustainable specialists.
Why is sustainability important?
The university needs to make the students understand.
Professor Toyoharu Nawa was appointed as the 19th president of Hokkaido University in April 2017. In an interview, the new president of the university, where a new campus master plan is being formulated, expressed his thoughts and what he expects from faculty and students.
*This interview was conducted in June 2017. The remarks have been edited by the Oﬃce for a Sustainable Campus.
Safety, security and sustainability
Ikegami：First, I’d like to hear your views on sustainability, including the ideas you’ve gained from your own experience.
Nawa：I first became aware of sustainability around 1995. At the time, I was involved in the development of cement for high-strength concrete and the construction of super high-rise buildings at a private company. I had the following questions about urban sustainability: No matter how durable they are, all buildings eventually deteriorate, so how can we demolish them safely? How can we dispose of large amounts of waste and conserve the environment? To conduct studies to solve these issues, I returned to the university.
Ikegami：You specialized in architecture.
Nawa：Yes. When I started research on construction materials with low CO2 emissions, the main focus of the construction industry was on new buildings, and not many people placed emphasis on sustainable development. Wooden buildings may last for more than 1,000 years, but concrete is superior in terms of disaster management. So I first considered the development of eco-cement, whose production process affords CO2 emissions reductions.
Ikegami： Was there a reason for expanding your scope of research to resources?
Nawa：Construction is a resource-intensive industry. Concrete production consumes nearly 1 ton per person of sand, gravel and other aggregate resources every year. Since quality river sand and gravel had already been depleted, the acquisition of aggregate by quarrying mountains was contributing to environmental destruction. The destruction of concrete due to the reaction between aggregates and alkalis also causes deterioration. It was therefore necessary to reconsider construction materials from the viewpoint of materials science.
Ikegami：Did you also shift to the field of resources as an instructor?
Nawa：Architecture students aren’t taught the basic knowledge of physics and chemistry that’s necessary for studies of environmental issues. In resource engineering, I taught physics and chemistry and addressed environmental issues comprehensively with consideration to environmental contamination and recycling. As I felt that a fusion with the academic fields of resource engineering is necessary to establish a new field of “construction sustainability, ”I decided to shift to the field of resources myself to inject new life into it.
Ikegami：How do you feel about buildings and the environment now that you’ve been continuing your studies?
Nawa：The most important things are safety and security. In large cities where populations concentrate, such as Tokyo and Sapporo, not enough shelters can be secured and damage can be serious at times of earthquakes if sufficient green spaces aren’t secured. I was first engaged in the construction of high-rise buildings to secure green spaces. However, facing the fact at the time of the Great Hanshin Earth-quake that buildings don’t last forever, I decided to contribute to the creation of a safe, secure and sustainable society by considering the dangers of demolition and waste disposal.
Ikegami：“Safety” probably means there’s no threat to life, but don’t the conditions for “safety” differ from individual to another?
Nawa：“Safety” has the functional sense of buildings not being destroyed, and “security” refers to peace of mind. For example, good buildings don’t have to be oppressive. Being able to live peacefully while safety against earthquakes and other disasters are maintained are fundamentals. Then we’ll have to think about environmental issues to achieve sustainability.
Research is diﬀerent from education
Ikegami：I feel that the word “sustainability” is roughly synonymous with having a society where future generations think that they can continue to live happily.
Nawa：Yes, it is. I believe that society must give its successors hopes for the future.
Ikegami：Do students in Japan have hopes for future?
Nawa： I think it’s a role of education to give such hopes. At universities, it’s first necessary to make students understand why sustainability is important and how it contributes to their future.
Ikegami：Education is a duty of universities, but universities must also pursue achievements in research. How do you think the improvement of a university’s reputation can be connected with the promotion of students’ understanding of sustainability?
Nawa：“Research” should be diverse; “education” should not. University education is about teaching knowledge that should be acquired by individual students and fostering their ability to hand down Japanese cultures and technologies. Fostering such students naturally leads to improved research results. Good research begins with good personnel development.
Ikegami：Is there some way to be ranked in the top 100 universities in the world?
Nawa：I think that whether the university is able to rank in the top 100 depends on its ability to have purpose, to develop strategies and to define the direction in which to advance. Hokkaido University has those abilities. Instructors conducting advanced research should further promote mutual communication and should have leaders to guide those instructors.
Ikegami：Do you think research should be conducted in groups rather than by individuals?
Nawa：In architecture, for example, a good building can’t be constructed by gathering proposals from individuals who are studying pillars, walls and lighting separately. Good results are produced when a designer proposes an ideal building for a certain type of resident and all those around him or her cooperate. Although academic fields are now increasingly segmented, research must take a larger perspective. It will also be important in the future to place further emphasis on fostering human resources who have comprehensive design abilities.
Ikegami：What is designing ability?
Nawa：To create something, it’s necessary for one to sufficiently absorb basic knowledge and refine one’s analytical ability to clearly identify a concept and one’s ability to give ground to design. Design ability is the ability to comprehensively understand circum- stances and solve problems. In other words, it’s the ability to create solutions in one’s own head instead of finding them from past data.
Ikegami：I feel that, although Japanese are brilliant in their individual studies and technologies, they’re not very good at developing ideas to combine and make use of their achievements.
Nawa：Such thinking may have come from the orientation toward imitating Western countries during the rapid modernization of the Meiji era. People should create things based on their own identities. I believe Japanese have brilliant ideas that can make the most of our technologies.
Ikegami：What’s the identity of the students of Hokkaido University?
Nawa：Their image is “Boys, be ambitious!” To project a strong presence on a campus where there are many different students–including 60% from outside Hokkaido, as well as international students–you must demonstrate the language, culture and ideas of your place of origin. I think it’s an advantage of Hokkaido University that students can experience and understand diverse cultures and ideas while exercising their individuality.
Go out into the ﬁeld and learn
Ikegami：Lastly, could you talk about the value of involving students in campus development?
Nawa：Various instructors are involved in discussions on campus development. I hear that the lifespan of Poplar Avenue is 80 years and that seedlings for the generation after the next have already been pre- pared. In light of this, I believe it’s highly significant for instructors not only of architecture, but also of agriculture and social sciences, to discuss the “ideal structure of a campus” and for students to participate in tree-growing, building design and other activities, in order to have first-hand experience of the process of realizing dreams.
Ikegami：I think it’s ideal for a university to use the campus for both research and education.
Nawa：It’s exactly what’s meant by “practical learning,” which is one of Hokkaido University’s basic philosophies. It exemplifies Dr. Clark’s remark, “Go out into the field and learn.” I believe that real education and research are about providing opportunities to think and having students participate in such opportunities.
Ikegami：Thank you very much.