Keio's 2023 Design the Future Fund Hosts Camp for the "Mina-San Mirai Project"
September 22, 2023
The Mina-San Mirai Project, which stands for the "Minamisanriku Future Project," was chosen as a part of Keio's 2023 Design the Future Fund based on its mission to "serve as a pathway to the future by raising up people with the skills to live both independently and cooperatively." This initiative is focused on providing learning experiences for college and graduate students that they cannot get at a regular campus. The camp is based in Minamisanriku, a town in Miyagi Prefecture where the largest of the Keio Forests is located. In practice, the camp's goal is to bring together students and faculty members from a wide range of academic fields and different campuses by studying in the Minamisanriku area while learning from and alongside its residents. Participants are put in an environment where they can learn from locals who have faced and overcome natural disasters. They then discuss their ideas about the future with the community while broadening discussions to apply these ideas to include Japan and the world at large.
Plans began on May 15, when organizers held a symposium to discuss what kind of research topics and other activities were possible to conduct in Minamisanriku. Then, on August 8, a pre-camp session was held where students could bring their individual skills and ideas to the table for an online meeting with locals. The camp is the most recent development and was held between September 8–10 for the first cohort of students in the Mina-San Mirai Project. Twenty students and seven faculty members, led by Professor Mayumi Tsuda of Keio's Faculty of Economics, spent the time learning about the local environment by examining the town's biomass and lumber (a local variety of cedar), fishing industry (nurseries), disaster prevention protocols (evacuation plans), as well as learning about the trials and experiences of the local community. All these activities were centered around the Keio Forest, a project recognized by the international Forest Stewardship Council.
The project, in essence, is a continuation of the Keio University Minamisanriku Project, which was held from 2011 to 2020 as a way for volunteers to help in the wake of the Great East Japan Earthquake. Though time has passed, both programs have similarly inspired a level of appreciation and thoughtfulness from participants. While the new students may not know the faces of the Keio students who went before them, the legacy of their upperclassmen remains throughout the town, now revealed in a fresh light as we step into our post-pandemic world. All that is left to see is how these new students will build on this legacy now that the baton has been passed to them.
A lecture from Taiichi Sato
Participants leaving Nagashizu-so
Research expedition studying the Minamisanriku cedars
Students learning about how the quality of the undergrowth affects cedar forests