In Fukuoka, the campus is an engine of urban development

What role does the university and campus play in the city? Dr. Hiroto Yasuura, who is responsible for the relocation of the campus in Japanese Fukuoka, is witnessing how the campus can serve as an engine of urban development.

Dr. Hiroto Yasuura is Executive Vice President of Kyushu University in the Japanese city of millions Fukuoka and also heads the Fukuoka Asia Urban Research Centre. He is one of the speakers at the UniverCITY Partnerships Conference in Stockholm and Uppsala in October, where he will highlight what role universities, and particularly campus areas, can play in a city.

– The campus is an important green space in the city and contributes to its natural environments. But the campus is also a centre for exchange between people; here young people gather and contribute to human communication and exchanges. Thirdly, the campus is a creative centre, where students and researchers create new culture and new technology, which then spreads to the city.

Kyushu is the largest university in Fukuoka and it is now moving its campus area from the eastern parts of the city to the western parts. At the same time it becomes much larger, 275 hectares compared to the former 50. Sustainability, both environmentally and socially, is a beacon of transformation.

– The new campus area is developing with very little impact on the environment in terms of water, energy, green spaces and the surrounding community. In the next step, we also plan to develop the old campus area into an advanced smart city, says Hiroto Yasuura who takes an interest in how the campus relocation impacts both the city and the university.

– With my experiences from the campus relocation, I have learned a lot about collaboration with government, industry and citizens and how to solve problems, he says, pointing out some key factors:

  • Extensive communication with different stakeholders
  • Understanding of the role of universities in society
  • Use of university campuses as a testing ground for new technology
  • The importance of social acceptance to implement a “smart city” with new technology

Hiroto Yasuura takes FDC, Fukuoka Directive Council, as an example of how different actors can cooperate on different societal challenges. FDC organises industry, universities and local authorities, plans and implements regional development strategies and creates projects.

– Discussions and exchanges of ideas from different sectors of FDC have helped create effective collaborations for our campus relocation. I also believe that the university should redefine its mandate on regional development. Changing attitudes is a really important challenge.