Universität Hamburg-Kyoto University Strategic Partnership Joint Symposium 2023
July 25, 2023
The Universität Hamburg-Kyoto University Strategic Partnership Joint Symposium 2023 was held collaboratively at Universität Hamburg on June 19-20, 2023. The two institutions have actively promoted academic collaboration since concluding a university-level exchange agreement in 2017, followed by a strategic partnership agreement, which was concluded under the leadership of the institutions' presidents in 2020. Kyoto University's strategic partnerships aim to develop interdisciplinary research collaboration, develop joint research in new academic fields, and promote researcher mobility. As the three-year term of the strategic partnership agreement was due to expire in 2023, a ceremony to conclude a renewal of the agreement for a further three years was also held during the symposium.
The overarching theme of the symposium was "planetary health," and researchers from both universities participated in four parallel sessions dedicated to infection research, climate research, environmental economics, and biodiversity. Approximately 70 people participated in the symposium, which marked the return to an "in person" format after several years of conducting such international events mainly online due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The first day of the symposium opened with welcome remarks by President Hauke Heekeren of Universität Hamburg and President Nagahiro Minato of Kyoto University. Those addresses were followed by a presentation by Ms. Courtney Peltzer-Hönicke, head of the Department of International Affairs at Universität Hamburg, who spoke about the symposium's approach to the overarching theme of planetary health. Prof. Yasuyuki Kono, Kyoto University's vice-president for international strategy, then delivered a presentation discussing the ways in which Kyoto University's activities engage with the topic of planetary health, and the expectations for the symposium. The representative researchers of each parallel session (see below for details*) then took to the podium to provide overviews of the sessions, introduce the group members, and respond to the moderator's questions about the ways in which each session related to the others within the overall theme of planetary health. The researchers emphasized the importance of approaching the various issues from an interdisciplinary perspective. With those points in mind, participants from both universities, including early-career researchers, delivered presentations in the sessions and actively engaged cross-disciplinary discussions on their research topics and the potential for future collaborative research.
*Parallel sessions (representative researchers):
・Infection research (Prof. Hiroshi Nishiura, Graduate School of Medicine)
・Climate research (Prof. Tetsuya Takemi, Disaster Prevention Research Institute)
・Environmental economics (Associate Prof. Akihisa Mori, Graduate School of Global Environmental Studies)
・Biodiversity (Associate Prof. Katsue Fukamachi, Graduate School of Global Environmental Studies)
After the parallel sessions, the venue was moved to the Hamburg City Hall for the signing ceremony to extend the strategic partnership agreement. Ms. Kikuko Kato, consul-general of Japan in Hamburg, and Dr. Masahiko Hayashi, director of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) Bonn Office, also attended the ceremony, and commented that, as there is a need for increased cooperation between Japan and Germany, the extension of the agreement and deepening of cooperation between the two universities is a welcome development. The agreement was then signed by the presidents of the two universities, and the participants witnessed the inauguration of a new three-year period of the strategic partnership.
On the second day of the symposium, the representative researchers of each parallel session gave a summary report of their discussions, mentioning the importance of maintaining an interdisciplinary perspective and continuing to involve early-career researchers. They also reported on the prospects for future collaborative research.
The symposium was brought to a close with addresses by Prof. Kyoko Inagaki, Kyoto University's executive vice-president for gender equality, international affairs, and external affairs, and Dr. Laura Marie Edinger-Schons, chief sustainability officer of Universität Hamburg. The speakers remarked that the symposium had provided a large number of researchers, including early-career researchers, with an excellent venue for interdisciplinary research exchange focusing on the important issue of planetary health, and expressed their anticipation for the further development of collaboration in the future.