On November 9, Okayama University held a symposium to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the Academic and General Okayama University Regional Research Association (AGORA). Approximately one hundred peopleーincluding members of the general public, people involved in community development, university students, and university personnel from Okayama University and other universitiesーjoined the event, which was held on-site and online in hybrid format.
President MAKINO Hirofumi gave the keynote address on Okayama University’s community-oriented SDGs management, explaining how the university intends to achieve the SDGs through cooperation with the local community, followed by a report on AGORA’s activities by Director MIMURA Satoshi and then a lively panel discussion.
During the panel discussion, Kurashiki City Mayor ITO Kaori spoke about the need for university cooperation as well as regional revitalization and development initiatives that comply with the SDGs, highlighting collaboration opportunities within the Takahashi River basin area. Secretary KAJITANI Shunsuke, representing the Okayama Association of Corporate Executives, commented on the need for industry-government-academia-private sector collaboration to further promote social cooperation; while Director TOKUDA Kyoko, representing UBUSUNA Okayama (a registered nonprofit organization that promotes community development in Okayama) emphasized that both students and local communities have a lot to learn when it comes to educating students in social cooperation. Director Mimura responded to each guest speaker’s opinion and restated AGORA’s intentions for positive progress with its upcoming initiatives. In closing, Okayama University Senior Vice President KAGA Masaru, who served as panel moderator, summarized the discussion and thanked all the participants for their input.
After a short break, participants had the opportunity to report on various “glocalization” activities. Fulbright Graduate Research Fellowship Alumni and Portland resident Saumya Kini introduced the impact of green urban spaces on civic activities, using the Nishigawa Canal Park in Okayama as an example of how important it is to analyze resident activity when creating accessible spaces in city centers. Then, 2021 Fulbright Graduate Research Fellowship winner David Anderson introduced his analysis of the relationship between local politics and Japanese community development, explaining that Okayama’s practical community development activities could become a valuable field of study for young people.
Afterwards, AGORA Deputy Director IWABUCHI Yasushi introduced Park(ing) day as part of the civic activities undertaken in Mizushima, Kurashiki City.
Finally, Executive Director for Planning and General Affairs TAKAHASHI Kayo closed the meeting by thanking everyone for their contributions and outlining the challenges that AGORA faces as it celebrates its tenth year.