The Borders of Science, Society, and the Environment

  • Christian Gibbons
| Spring 2019

What makes a person interested in the relationship between science, society, and the environment? For Masahiko Haraguchi, it was the paradox of sustainable development. While working with a timber company in Thailand, where the government suddenly outlawed deforestation, he first became aware that sustainability can have negative consequences, like job losses, especially in developing countries.

His interest in this problem led him to study climate policy as a World Bank Graduate Scholar—and eventually to a job with the World Bank itself. While there, Haraguchi designed programs that would help cities adapt to climate change. His understanding of environmental adaptation deepened even further as a doctoral student at Columbia University, where he conducted research and fieldwork on disaster risk management and catastrophe recovery.

As a postdoctoral research fellow at the Belfer Center, Haraguchi studies how waste can be converted into usable energy and nutrients.

Haraguchi believes his experiences have helped him become a better global citizen, both professionally and personally. “To be a global citizen, one of the important skills is to be able to cross borders,” he says. “And that doesn’t just mean geographical borders, but borders between cultures and ways of thinking.”

Haraguchi experienced the importance of seeking out various views about issues while participating in an international fellowship program where he and others made recommendations on the governance of geoengineering. He doesn’t think any part of society should move forward on such vital decisions without first dialoguing with others. For critical issues like this, he says, “it’s really important to have consensus among multiple stakeholders.”

Haraguchi also credits his time in the U.S. with making him a better global citizen. “One of the best ways to get this kind of mindset is to become a minority,” he explains. “For example, I’m from Japan, and in Japan, I’m part of a majority.” But his first nine months here—in Arkansas, where he was a minority—convinced him to return to the U.S. for study. “And I really like Southern culture,” he laughs. “People are so friendly.”

For more information on this publication: Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation:

Gibbons, Christian. "The Borders of Science, Society, and the Environment." Belfer Center Newsletter. Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School (Spring 2019).

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