A team of researchers from the University of Derby have returned from a visit to Toyota City, where they launched a collaborative research partnership as part of celebrations to mark the 20th anniversary of Derbyshire’s twinning with the city.
The team of psychologists visited Chukyo University in Nagoya, where they met the university’s President, Hitoshi Yasumura, as well as researchers in psychology and the Dean of the School of Psychology, Eiji Kamiya.
The delegations from both universities agreed to collaborate in broad areas of psychology research, particularly focusing on the link between nature and improved wellbeing through ‘nature connectedness’ – whether that’s through spending time outdoors, or understanding how our actions affect the natural world, cross-culturally.
The researchers from Derby visited the library to see Chukyo University's automated book retrieval system and the nearby Kosho-ji Temple, where they practiced a Japanese tea ceremony, led by a group of local students.
In his welcome speech, President Yasumura said: “Although our languages and cultures are different, our values are similar. I hope this collaboration will surpass those differences and produce something fruitful.”
Yasuhiro Kotera, Academic Lead in Counselling, Psychotherapy and Psychology at the University of Derby, said: “The similarities and differences between Japan and the UK will, I’m sure, make for interesting and meaningful research projects. We are looking forward to working with them and I am personally very excited to be able to work with researchers from my home country.”
Professor David Sheffield, Derby’s Director of Professional Psychology Programmes (Online), and Associate Head of Centre for Psychological Research, added: “We were honoured to be welcomed by the President and professors of Chukyo University. We had fruitful discussions with colleagues in psychology and agreed to collaborate on a number of projects in Japan and the UK.”
The University of Derby is already involved in a number of significant national projects in the area of nature connectedness, looking at ways to understand and promote people’s connection to nature and increase their wellbeing. The Nature Connectedness Research Group is currently working with a range of organisations, including the National Trust, Natural England and The Wildlife Trust.
A range of other activities are planned throughout the year to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the twinning of Derbyshire and Toyota City. The international relationship was formalised in 1998, following the creation of new vehicle plant at Burnaston. Since then, the relationship has led to the development of a number of cultural and economic links, making a significant contribution to the region’s business, manufacturing and supply chain sectors as well as its wider civic and social life.
A delegation from the University of Derby, including Professor Judith Lamie, Pro-Vice Chancellor – External Affairs; Professor Keith McLay, Dean of the College of Arts, Humanities and Education; and Dr Chris Bussell, Dean of the College of Life and Natural Sciences and Chair of the Japan Global Regional Engagement Group, will visit the Toyota City Industry Festa in Japan this weekend to promote the region, alongside representatives from Derbyshire County Council, South Derbyshire Council, Derby City Council and Marketing Peak District & Derbyshire.
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