||Dean, Graduate School of Asia Pacific Studies
Ph.D. in Anthropology, Ohio State University
|Research fields :
||Sociology-Anthropology; Southeast Asia; Environment, Climate change, and Disasters; Natural resource management; NGOs, social organizations and social movements
||Traveling, participating in cultural events, hosting dinner for students
The next entry in the special edition of Professor Close-Up is Professor SALAZAR Robert A.C., the Dean of Graduate School of Asia Pacific Studies (GSA). SPA got the opportunity to talk with him at his office when he was preparing for Fall 2015 graduation ceremony.
Please tell us about your encounter with, and impression towards APU.
I went back to the Philippines to teach after completing my Ph.D. in the U.S., and later became the Dean of the College of Liberal Arts at De La Salle University in Manila. I was in Japan as a visiting research fellow in 1999, and near the end of my term there I saw on a newspaper that a new university, APU, was looking for faculty members. For me it was an opportunity as well as a new challenge, so I applied for a position here and finally joined the university in March 2001.
APU has grown a lot in one and a half decade. It used to have a small enough number of students that faculties could know their students on a personal basis. Now it has grown bigger and has become even more diverse. In the past, I used to teach classes with 30 to 40 students, but now there are more than 200 students in some of my classes.
Would you tell us about your academic activities?
Perhaps the reason that I chose this career path is the personal influence from my parents and former professors. I enjoy working with young people, inspiring and facilitating them to think for themselves. I have a passion for research, and I am happy that I am able to share and apply what I learned from my researches in my lectures.
In teaching, I always try to innovate and apply new methods in my classes. That way, each course is as memorable as the others. I also try to look around for ongoing events and discuss them in class. During the recent “APU Fashion Week,” for example, I asked my students in “Culture and Society of Asia Pacific” to think critically about fashion and clothing. The class staged a fashion competition showing how dress represents and is associated with identities of gender, work and culture, power and income inequalities, and expressions of sexuality. The students enjoyed and hopefully learned from the exercise.
I try to balance theory and practice in my role as a sociologist and anthropologist, and this is reflected in the broad range of research projects that I have undertaken. I have done some theoretical work on issues such as new religious movements, community participation, and climate change discourse. On the more practical side, I have worked with the government in promoting community participation in social forestry and in conducting social impact assessments. I have also done research on non-governmental organizations (NGO) for older people, the findings of which I incorporate in my NGO course in APU.
How is it being the Dean of GSA?
I enjoy teaching in the graduate school, as it permits more interaction with students. Being the dean of a graduate school is quite a challenge. Currently, we are planning for a curriculum reform at APU graduate school. We hope to develop relevant programs that are along the expertise of our faculty members, e.g., intercultural studies.
Would you share with us your hobby and pastime activities?
I enjoy traveling to different countries, especially to observe and participate in community celebrations. I attend the wedding of my former students, so I am able to observe marriage rituals and ceremonies from different cultures. I also like trekking, watching movies, and hosting students for dinner at home.
What books would you recommend?
I prefer not to recommend any particular book, because different books inspire us in different ways. However, I would encourage students to read classic works of literature, including poems, dramas, and novels.
When asked to give some advice to APU students, Professor SALAZAR gave several suggestions: Do well and excel in everything that you do. Always achieve some kind of balance, but also know when to pursue something with great passion. Enjoy the challenges of life, seize opportunities and be responsible.