“Boys, be ambitious!” is the phrase Dr. William Smith Clark, the first vice president of Sapporo Agricultural College, was quoted as saying to his students before leaving Sapporo.
Sapporo Agricultural College was established in 1876 to cultivate talent who could contribute to the development of Hokkaido and in its role as a modern educational institution laid the foundation for agricultural science education. The college then became the Agricultural College of the Tohoku Imperial University and subsequently Hokkaido Imperial University before being renamed Hokkaido University. Meanwhile, the institution’s research and education programs in agricultural science have produced many outstanding people and made a significant contribution to the development of agriculture through innovations in food production technology.
Currently, the world population is 7.3 billion and is expected to reach 9.7 billion by 2050 and 11.2 billion by 2100. Climate change and global warming have had a profound impact on food production environments, making inter-regional disparities in food production and distribution capacity a global social problem. While establishing technology for sustainable food production is crucial to ensure the survival of humanity with finite resources from the Earth, innovation of food production technologies alone cannot solve food problems around the world. Now that the very foundation for human survival is rapidly unraveling, it is imperative to think out of the box and take on challenging research in agricultural science without being bound by preconceived notions or the boundaries of traditional academic disciplines.
We have set “making contributions to sustainable human prosperity through the establishment of infrastructure for survival based on the biosphere” as the ideal for which the School of Agriculture, the Graduate School of Agriculture and the Research Faculty of Agriculture strive. To put this ideal into practice, we have established the following four priority research areas: food production; the environment; the manufacturing, distribution and use of food products; and basic biological science (as the basis to support all the three preceding research areas). These areas are not independent of one another but rather closely related, and are expected to become integrated through interaction and to stimulate new research in agricultural science. At present, the School of Agriculture comprises seven departments: the Department of Agrobiology and Bioresources, the Department of Applied Biosciences, the Department of Bioscience and Chemistry, the Department of Forest Science, the Department of Animal Science, the Department of Bioresource and Environmental Engineering, and the Department of Agricultural Economics. The Graduate School of Agriculture, which previously consisted of four divisions and 15 research groups, was reorganized in the 2019 academic year into one division and three “frontier courses.” The School of Agriculture and the Graduate School of Agriculture promote comprehensive and multifaceted education and research to cultivate diverse human resources with the knowledge and skills with which to contribute to the resolution of global issues on food, resources, energy and the environment and contribute to the sustainable development of local agriculture, forestry and other related industries.
With recent remarkable technological innovations in the fields of agriculture and food production, there is a growing expectation for the development of smart agriculture utilizing IoT, AI, genome editing and other new technologies. In this regard, we must be mindful of the consequences of each and every technological innovation in terms of both time and space. What is required today is the ability to act with a deep insight and a broad perspective to view both living beings and the environment, both individuals and society, and both local communities and the Earth as a whole. With the research and education programs of the School of Agriculture, the Graduate School of Agriculture and the Research Faculty of Agriculture, we are committed to contributing to the sustainable prosperity of humanity through the resolution of global issues on food, resources, energy and the environment and through the establishment of infrastructure for survival based on the biosphere.
After saying “Boys, be ambitious,” Dr. Clark continued: “Like this old man. Be ambitious not for money or for selfish aggrandizement, not for that evanescent thing which men call fame. Be ambitious for the attainment of all that a man ought to be.”