President Wiewel in Japan

Portland State President Wim Wiewel is currently in Japan, attending the weeklong sustainability conference as a keynote speaker.

Portland State President Wim Wiewel is currently in Japan, attending the weeklong sustainability conference as a keynote speaker.

The conference for Sustainability Week 2009 is being held in Sapporo, Japan, at Hokkaido University, which has a center for research and study in sustainability and a research focus on sustainable development.

The conference marks the 50th anniversary of the relationship between Portland and Sapporo.

As part of their sustainability program, Hokkaido University is committed to invite international experts to annually discuss curriculum development as well as explore other themes within sustainable development.

Wiewel spoke Nov. 2 on the topic of “Roles of the Urban University in Pursuit of Sustainability.”

He summarized how Portland State approached the question of sustainable development, and invited others to share their information about how their countries and universities are approaching that question.

According to the press release by Kerri Griesbeck of University Relations, Wiewel was also working to establish new university collaborations and attended meetings with Japanese auto manufacturers along with Portland Mayor Sam Adams.

Wiewel is one of the major public advocates for Portland State’s reputation in sustainability. His history of research has been focused on university community partnerships, which is especially crucial when dealing with a worldwide crisis such as sustainable development.

Hokkaido University is a leader of sustainable research in Japan, and was a founding member of the Promotion of Sustainability in Postgraduate Education and Research, a network of alliances between leading higher education institutions in Asia and the Pacific Region. These institutions work together to develop new approaches for curriculum development and research.

“The ‘triple bottom line’ approach to sustainability can inform this work [of universities leading the way of sustainable development within their communities], how to build collaborations locally and globally and how to focus these efforts to attain the greatest results,” Wiewel explained in the press release.

The topics of sustainable development issues include environmental monitoring, climate change, sustainable food production, the use of ocean bio-resources, biodiversity and public policy for sustainable societies.

Conferences such as this one are important to the implementation of new programs and directions of research.
Through collaboration, experts identify the problem and possible solutions, as well as sharing curriculum development ideas that have been successful.

The goal of Wiewel’s trip to Sapporo was to discover new ways in which to work in collaboration on research projects. The projects would ideally benefit both Portland State and Sapporo.

Following the conference, Wiewel met with the Shibusawa Foundation and Waseda University in Tokyo about a curriculum development collaboration concerning Asian leadership. Such collaborations are part of Portland State’s core of international partnerships.

Wiewel met with students of Waseda who studied at Portland State as well as Portland State students studying at Waseda.

Wiewel’s trip to Japan will conclude today in a series of meetings regarding Mitsubishi and Nissan Motors.

Also attending the meetings will be Mayor Adams and Charlie Allcock, Portland General Electric’s director of economic development. These Portland representatives will encourage Mitsubishi to roll out its electric vehicles in Portland, as Nissan has already done for its new electric vehicle line, LEAF.

Nissan and the Portland representatives will meet for confirmation and brainstorming ideas for a successful launch of the new line.

Portland State is well known for its efforts in research and curriculum in sustainability. Portland State was awarded a $25 million grant from the James F. and Marion L. Miller Foundation to assist in the research and inclusion of sustainable development.

The grant will support multiple areas of Portland State’s activities in sustainability, including international relations such as those with Japan.

President Wiewel’s trip opens up opportunities for further collaborations in academic, public and business aspects.