The natural environment of the earth is formed through the complex interactions of four interconnected spheres: the geosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere and biosphere. Today, nowhere on the globe is entirely free from human impacts. Moreover, our impacts on the earth are too far-reaching to consider “man” as just another member of the biosphere. We need to recognize that humans are a fifth key player in the transformation and interactions of the four spheres of the earth’s natural environment.
However, while negative human impacts on the environment –pollution and the degradation of ecological systems– are cause for grave concern, there is also cause for hope. Around the globe, we can locate examples, such as the historical Japanese village resource-utilization systems of satoyama and satoumi, where human communities have managed to integrate their activities symbiotically with the earth’s four spheres. Accordingly, investigating and understanding the characteristics of the environment and the historical relationships between humans and nature are indispensable to successfully navigating our shared future.
Through the Course of Terrestrial Environmental Studies and the Course of Marine Environmental Studies, the Department of Natural Environmental Studies presents eager students with an opportunity to examine environmental structures and their transformation and human disturbances on the environment from various perspectives in the natural and social sciences. Our goal is to educate professionally-minded individuals who are eager to pursue their own research interests and are excited for examining environmental issues from a variety of academic standpoints. In this manner, we hope to contribute to the development of a sustainable society in the 21st century.