Department of Food and Environmental Economics

Of the challenges that humankind faces today, those concerning food and environment are particularly relevant to everyday life. Although they are faced differently depending on the context, food issues and environmental problems arise in both developed and developing countries, regardless of political and economic system. Indeed, they are increasingly understood as the consequence of economic policies fixated on growth and rapid development. With growing awareness of our declining natural resources, more emphasis has been placed on the possibilities for sustainable development. To bring about such an alternative development path, governments around the world need to not only adjust their domestic policy, but also to coordinate with their counterparts at the global level to ensure that progress can be achieved collaboratively at the international scale. Unlike manufacturing industries, which rely on inorganic resources and global commodities, agriculture, forestry, and fisheries have a uniquely local character that is rooted in natural ecosystems and communities. Here, sustainable development means achieving harmony between economic output, environmental conservation, and local culture. We strongly believe that since food and environmental problems are the byproducts of human institutions and economic systems that humans can also solve these problems.

The Department of Food and Environmental Economics aims to find solutions to these problems using a diverse social science approach, while at the same time absorbing relevant knowledge and experience from the natural science approach of the departments in the Faculty of Agriculture. This organization allows us to determine how research findings can be applied and accepted in the real world, with the ultimate goal of encouraging more progressive and interdisciplinary scientific approaches in the agricultural sciences.

To this end, we deliberately look at agricultural production in a broader cultural and economic context. While other departments in the Faculty of Agriculture adopt predominantly natural science methods, this Department alone advocates a social science approach, rooted in the belief that this can better clarify the nexus of human and natural activities that comprise agriculture. In more concrete terms, we study the characteristics of people working in agriculture, forestry, fisheries, and livestock businesses as well as the social and economic contexts, such as the farm, mountain, and fishing villages they work in, with an eye toward developing rural industries sustainably and equalizing conditions with urban areas. To balance conservation of local environment and culture at both regional and global levels with the need to encourage economic advancement, we draw insight from international studies of agriculture, rural and urban community development studies, and environmental management as well as relevant industries.

The Department of Food and Environmental Economics is divided into eight fields of education and research, which can be roughly clustered into three groups, as outlined below.

The first group covers two fields, in which students take micro-level approaches to studying problems involving agriculture and farm families. In these fields, students learn agricultural business management and accounting information processing to understand agricultural problems from the perspectives of individual farming families and agricultural organizations. As such, this group relies primarily on field survey methodology. The second group comprises four fields that provide students with a micro- and macroscopic approach to resource and environmental problems on a regional level using rigorous empirical analysis. In these fields, students have opportunities to encounter current food and environmental problems from regional and national perspectives and then learn basic theories about conservation and development of regional environmental resources, policies for agriculture and forestry, and the development of farming communities in developing countries. The third group includes two fields in which students consider issues of food, agriculture and farming communities on the basis of history and philosophy, learn basic techniques to discover how such issues have evolved, and conduct cross-national comparisons. In these fields, students are given opportunities to examine the industrial and post-industrial aspects of agriculture, forestry, and fisheries and food system development, as well as the impact that historical trends have had in shaping farming communities, rural-urban relationships and, more generally, agriculture as a field of science.

Keywords for Each Field of Affiliation

Field Keywords
Agri-Food System Management Management and structure/behavior of agri-food organizations, environmental changes and development of farm management, distribution and marketing of agricultural products, comparative institutional analysis of farm management around the world, roles of family-run farming, food system/agribusiness, fair trade, agricultural/consumer cooperatives, food safety management
Farm Managerial

Information

and Accounting

Business improvement, business growth/development, business administration, technical/management/accounting information, competency of business managers and enterprise operators, HR development/training, industrial organizations offering management support services, survey methods for farming communities, regional agriculture, and farm management
Regional Environmental Economics International and domestic food supply/demand and environmental problems, sustainable development of regional economies and environmental conservation, farm product trade and regional environments, technical change and productivity of agricultural sector, agricultural land issues, problems in hilly and mountainous areas and subsidies, commons and regional resilience
Agricultural and Environmental Policy Global environmental problems, outlook of food supply/demand, multiple functions of agriculture and farming communities, external economic effects, import liberalization of farm produce, economic analysis of food safety, agriculture and biodiversity, GIS
Forest Policy and Economics Forest resources in Japan and abroad, forestry production, forestry and lumber industries, production, supply, distribution, and consumption of timber, timber trade and environmental system, revitalization of mountain villages, ecosystem management, environmental functions of forests
International Rural Development Agricultural development, poverty, rural institutions, income inequality, consumption smoothing, social capital, culture, risk sharing, area studies, field survey, political economy, field experiment, development economics
Comparative Agricultural History Development patterns of socioeconomy and agriculture, history of relationships between urban and rural communities, history of relationships between agriculture and nature (technology, production capacity), history of farmers / history of farming communities / history of farmer movements, modern world-systems and agricultural problems and policies
Philosophy of Agricultural Science Roles of agriculture, forestry, and fisheries in various human societies, changes in agriculture and farming communities around the world, issues and methodologies of new agricultural science, world food problems, exchange and unification between urban and farming communities