As the agriculture, forestry, and fisheries industries are greatly affected by climate change due to greenhouse gases, there is a need to respond by shifting to sustainable agriculture and forest management that is resistant to climate change. In addition, as agriculture and deforestation are major sources of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide, there is a need to reduce emissions created in the processing, distribution, and consumption of food.
At the same time, Japan's agriculture, forestry, and fisheries industries are facing the challenges of an aging workforce, a lack of successors, a labor shortage due to population decline, and stagnant productivity. This has led to the introduction of "smart agriculture" based on information and communication technology (ICT). The scope of smart agriculture is wide-ranging, and farmers are being forced to adapt to the introduction of new technologies that they are not familiar with. In other words, we are seeing a shift from "green revolution" agriculture, which seeks to increase productivity levels through the use of chemical fertilizers and selective breeding, to "data-driven agriculture," which is based on ICT and data science.
For these reasons, the Graduate School of Food and Agricultural Sciences conducts education and research in all fields of agriculture, including food science, with the aim of developing human resources who approach agriculture and the food chain in an integrated manner.
In order to deal with the drastically changing environment and social conditions surrounding the agriculture, forestry, and fisheries industries, highly specialized professionals are needed who can anticipate global trends and lead the shift away from traditional approaches to agriculture, forestry, and fisheries and the conventional food and food-related industries. And it is necessary to train such professionals in a graduate school equipped with an advanced education and research system in the field of agriculture. At the same time, there is growing demand for advanced education for working adults.
To meet these needs, the Graduate School of Food and Agricultural Sciences offers four courses of study--in "Food Science," "Agricultural Production Science," "Agroenvironmental Science," and "Farm Management Science"--all leading to a Master's degree in Food and Agriculture Science. Students belong to one of the four courses of study, learning research methodology through classes and seminars under a main supervisor in charge of that course of study, and they conduct their own research under the guidance of their main supervisor and two sub-supervisors, compiling the results into a Master's thesis.
Students in this department acquire advanced specialized knowledge in food science, agricultural production science, agroenvironmental Science, and farm management science. Trained in a systematic approach to problem solving based on scientific theory and data, they acquire the knowledge needed to solve food- and agriculture-related problems using natural science, humanities, and social science methods.
In order to actualize the basic concept underlying the reorganization of the university's graduate schools, departments, and majors, we have systematically arranged subjects of study into three groups: "basic graduate school subjects," "basic department/major subjects," and "specialized subjects."
Students can take "Knowledge for Revitalization and Innovation in Agriculture and Food" as a course unique to Fukushima, and "agro-ecology," which is to be offered for the first time in a Master's program by any Japanese national university. Internships at research institutes and companies are recognized as credits under "Practical Research on Food and Agricultural Regions."
Covering the food chain from farm to table, this course of study teaches knowledge and theory in the biology and chemistry of food processing and preservation, and in the physiological and medical dimensions of food and health, safety, and taste. Students learn the fundamentals and applications of quantitative chemistry and biology through advanced instrumental analysis and data science, and systematically study the technology and theories that serve as the scientific basis for complex systems encompassing food, processing and storage, and living organisms.
Students taking this course of study learn about crop production, food production, the utilization of cultivated resources, advanced technology for solving problems in different cultivation environments, the development of new cultivars and reevaluation of existing cultivars, innovations in cultivation technology, and pest control. In Food and Agricultural Science Research, students acquire specialized knowledge and skills such as the ability to plan and carrying out research projects, the ability to analyze data, and the ability to give persuasive presentations.
Students taking this course of study learn about specialized and advanced theory and scientific techniques covering everything from ecosystem dynamics to the management of farming and mountain village environments, including environmentally-friendly agriculture and forestry production, satoyama (undeveloped woodland near populated areas) management, wildlife damage control, material circulation in forests and farmland, agricultural infrastructure management, and the use of big data, ICT, and artificial intelligence (AI) in agriculture--all essential for maintaining the forest and rural environments on which food and agriculture depend. Students also carry out research projects based on data science and learn how to apply scientific techniques to social issues.
Students in this course of study acquire advanced specialized knowledge about farm management, food systems, and regional and rural societies, plus skills in the humanities and social sciences, that allow them to solve problems related to food and agriculture. They are also given the opportunity to conduct research on real-world issues, applying data science and fieldwork methodology and supported by dialogue and discussion, so that they will be able to support the agriculture, forestry, fisheries, and food industries and regional and rural communities in the future.