Human Ecology: Rivers (Faculty of Liberal Arts)
Faculty of Liberal Arts, Department of Liberal Arts Professor
This is a field-based course on environmental issues in contemporary Japan. Through hands-on study of initiatives in Hokkaido and other locations, the course will examine the interaction between human society and the natural world. The focus is on rivers and how they interact with human and non-human communities.
This course is a case-driven, solution-centered practicum. Through fieldwork and lectures, students will learn about how legal, economic, political, social, cultural institutions shape and are shaped by ecological systems. Students will meet government officials, scientists, community leaders, and industry experts who are at the frontlines of this interface between society and the natural environment.
This year’s theme is rewilding salmon in Eastern Hokkaido. As salmon domestication and the loss of their habitat continues, Hokkaido is at the center of the global debate over fisheries, river engineering, and the protection of wilderness. In addition we will be thinking about indigenous claims over rights to catch salmon on both sides of the Pacific, as Japan, in April 2019, recognized the Ainu as indigenous people. We will study this keystone species as an opportunity to restore the ecosystem and, ultimately, our ethical relationship with nature.