Mc Donald M. Pascual, News, Communication Management Office
Dr. Raul Roland Sebastian, the dean of the College of Social Sciences and Development, participated in a discussion on “Historicizing Disaster Risk Management: The Ecology of Mount Isarog and its Environs” held on August 2, 2021 through a webinar platform.
The webinar was a product of a collaboration among the Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP), National Chengnhi University (NCCU), Partido State University (PSU), and the Program for Early Modern Southeast Asia (PEMSEA) which serves as a partnership among the Center for Southeast Asian Studies of the University of California—Los Angeles (UCLA), the Center for Southeast Asian Studies of the University of Hawaii (UH), and the Department of Anthropology of the University of Washington (UW).
The first panel titled “Research, Training, and Partnerships: Breaking Disciplinary Boundaries” involved respected academic officials and scholars from different higher education institutions as discussants, to wit: Dr. Raul Bradicena, president of Partido State University in the Bicol Region, Philippines; Dr. Da-Wei Kuan, associate professor at the Department of Ethnology of the National Chengnhi University in Taiwan; Dr. Miriam T. Stark, director of Southeast Asian Studies of the University of Hawaii at Manoa, USA; and, Dr. Stephen Acabado, director of the Center for Southeast Asian Studies of the University of California in Los Angeles, USA.
Dr. Clement Camposano, Chancellor of the University of the Philippines in the Visayas and moderator of the discussion, asked the panelists to introduce their respective programs and to highlight success stories or models in conducting research, training, and partnership.
On the part of PUP, Dr. Sebastian introduced the vision of the College of Social Sciences and Development which is to become one of the leading academic units in social sciences and development by fostering the trifocal functions of the academe: instruction, research, and extension.
“The College, under yours truly, tries to strengthen its research capability by initiating research capability building programs through trainings and orientations and by forging partnerships with other academic units of other academic institutions,” he said.
Dean Sebastian added that with the support of the administration of PUP and the help of experts from other universities in the Philippines and abroad, trainings are held to update the competencies of the faculty on the current trends in research and in conducting disciplinal, interdisciplinal and/or multidisciplinal researches.
The CSSD dean also mentioned that the CSSD and the university encourage interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary approaches in research, especially in the social sciences and development. He emphasized that the researches undertaken by the faculty are funded by the university.
Moreover, he mentioned that researches conducted by the faculty gear towards (1) better access to education opportunities for the holistic development of the clienteles of PUP with nationalistic and humanistic perspectives; (2) stronger presence and involvement in national and international issues and discourses; (3) cultivation of proactive involvement towards nation-building and international cooperation; the social sciences in capacitating and engaging various stakeholders to address societal problems and attain social development.
Dean Sebastian detailed that academic mentoring, sharing of expertise, exposure to recent trends, and personal experience on various physical, political, social, cultural, and economic environments among academic partners, become crucial in meeting the demands of the researches, hence the need for trainings and partnerships with other institutions in the Philippines and abroad.
When asked by the moderator on opportunities and challenges, Dean Sebastian explained that “engagement can really help the faculty members, especially the faculty members of state universities who do not have sufficient funds to support their studies. And without this kind of engagement, I believe that this academic excellence or vision of all universities cannot be attained. One good example is the effort being given by our university. We are being asked by our officials to look for collaborations...”
He also stressed that PUP is building its capacities beyond the mere turf of instruction, hence the need for partnership which can benefit all the parties involved.
On sustainability, Dr. Sebastian believed that partnership can be maintained if there is a plan, periodic review of the program, and regular training of the faculty-researchers. Apart from the memorandum of agreement or understanding that would bind the parties involved, he opined that a common goal of using the social sciences in addressing societal concerns would ascertain sustained cooperation.
Dr. Camposano, the moderator, brought up that research results do not always go in favor with community knowledge and stories and asked the panelists on how they can possibly resolve that complication. The panelists pointed out the importance of engaging the community into the research process, knowing the people involved by the researchers, employing academic training, showing humility within the community, discussing research results with it, imploring validation from it, and making it as co-owner of knowledge, copyright, and patents derived from the research project.
Before the end of the discussion, Commissioner Aldrin Darilag of the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) commended the institutions behind the collaboration. He mentioned that the promotion of CHED of transnational linkages is a vital mechanism in preparing the higher education institutions to the fourth industrial revolution and in ascertaining future proof that the Philippine education system can yield competent, responsive, and world-ready professionals.
All the panelists agreed on pursuing more discussions and expressed high hopes for the collaboration among PEMSEA, PUP, and PSU.
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