Faculty and research guide

Laboratory of Environmental Sociology

Ryoto Tomita

 What we call “environmental issues” arise in reciprocal actions between the environment and society. While environmental changes lead to societal changes, societal changes also lead to environmental changes. Environmental issues arise in such a milieu. Environmental sociology identifies interactions between the environment and society and also occurrences of environmental issues through investigations and analyses of the society in which we live. It is also the intention of this academic discipline to contribute to the resolution of environmental issues based on, for example, examinations of philosophies and policies. Therefore, research in environmental sociology is conducted using knowledge from academic disciplines on human societies such as folklore, cultural anthropology, and policy studies. In addition, grounding in academic disciplines such as ecology, engineering, and agricultural science is required in order to understand the circumstances at field sites experiencing environmental issues.

 Our research group clarifies “the relationship between humans and nature” and “the relationships among humans in the face of nature” with a focus on subsistence activities and livelihood in local communities. This research involves the use of results from field surveys (social research) conducted at relevant sites. Our group also aims to resolve issues which arise within the clarified relationships. For example, I myself have been examining the relationship between local communities and nature restoration projects conducted at Lake Kasumigaura in Ibaraki Prefecture, Matsuuragawa River in Saga Prefecture, and other sites. I have also been involved in research on the significance of community-based participatory research in Aya Town in Miyazaki Prefecture and around Lake Mikatagoko in Fukui Prefecture. Another ongoing research topic is on the sustainable receipt of benefits from ecosystem services at Lake Hamanako and Suruga Bay in Shizuoka Prefecture. Finally, my current research also addresses issues on local "heirloom crops" of Shizuoka prefecture, Japan, and its cultivation technique and related cultural issues to discuss how heirloom crops have been maintained to date and how to protect them in the future.

 The circumstances of sites experiencing environmental issues are varied, differing from one site to another. There are also a number of problems which need to be addressed. For these reasons, it is necessary for individual students to establish independent research topics on their own. For students, the process of establishing research topics on their own is highly challenging. However, conducting research based on actual sites subject to environmental issues by applying the core of education received at the Faculty of Agriculture will not only contribute to resolving today’s environmental issues but also be a meaningful experience in students’ lives. If you are eager to take on this challenge, we look forward to you joining our group.

A fishing boat at Lake Kasumigaura

A round-table meeting of nature restoration project at Azame-no-se (Matsuuragawa River)

A “fureai map” of Uwabata division in Aya Town by community-based participatory research

A workshop of community-based participatory research at Lake Mikatagoko

Eelgrass beds at Lake Hamanako

An interview research of subsistence activities at Lake Mikatagoko