Multidisciplinary Research

Multidisciplinary Research

by UA&P News Desk on November 12, 2010 - 4:17 pm

by Bernardo Villegas, from the Manila Bulletin

MANILA, Philippines – In many Philippine universities, various “schools” or “faculties” are islands unto themselves having little interest in what is happening in other schools or faculties in the same educational institution. This “silo” mentality can be especially harmful to the academic community in the area of research, in which every university worthy of its name has to excel. There are numerous problems of Philippine society that cannot be diagnosed exclusively from the vantage point of one discipline alone, whether it be political science, economics, sociology, anthropology, etc. A multidisciplinary approach is essential and, therefore, would require the cooperation among practitioners of the various sciences.

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Thanks to the origins of the University of Asia and the Pacific, which started in 1967 as the Center for Research and Communication (CRC), research is very much part of the culture of this academic institution in Pasig. The teaching load of the full-time faculty members is always limited so that they can find time to do research, which is part of their term of reference with their respective schools or faculties. At the beginning of the university in 1989 (when it was still the CRC College of Arts and Sciences), there was also the tendency for the various departments (especially the economics department then) to ignore the other faculties in their research endeavors. Through the years, however, with constant prodding from the Office of the President, there has been a visible increase in interdisciplinary research, especially in matters that have direct relevance to influencing social or business policy. It is pretty obvious that research on Philippine poverty will involve economists, political scientists, historians, sociologists, and anthropologists, among others. The same can be said about the research on the Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) that cannot be limited to the economic benefits or costs but have to probe the social effects of separated families; the positive and negative repercussions on the practice of their religious faith when they are abroad; the political independence that the OFW families acquire as they are no longer beholden to the warlords in their respective regions; the educational trajectories of the children of the OFWs; and many other non-economic factors.

This increasing trend towards interdisciplinary dialogue and research among the faculty members of UA&P redounds to the benefit of the students. They are being mentored by professors who are acquiring a broader view of Philippine society by leaving their respective preserves and looking at Philippine realities from the vantage points of the various sciences. Such interdisciplinary research also assures the continuing professional development of the teachers who cannot afford to stagnate intellectually in a rapidly changing world. In fact, UA&P is the only university in the country that requires all students, whatever their specializations, to take courses on the history, culture, economics, and politics of the countries in the Asia Pacific Region. All students in their first two years of college studies have to accumulate a total of 18 credit units in various subjects that expose them to the various cultures, economies, and polities of the Asia Pacific Region. Referred to as the Pacific Rim Studies Program, this obligatory part of the liberal arts curriculum of the University is taught by an interdisciplinary team of professors coming from the various fields. As the economic epicenter of the world now shifts to the Asian region, it is important for the youth today to be steeped in their knowledge of countries like China, South Korea, Indonesia, Vietnam, and Thailand. This exposure to the history, culture, and other dimensions of the leading countries of the Pacific Rim should be another reason why high school students under the guidance of their respective parents should consider applying to the University of Asia and the Pacific. I foresee many of our graduates in the future landing high-paying jobs in such countries as China, Indonesia, Vietnam, and Myanmar. For comments, my e-mail address is #

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