Professor Shigehiro (Shige) Suzuki is a full time faculty member in PSC. He tries to bring a global vision to his students with his professional experiences and by promoting cultural sensitivity. After graduating from Tokyo University, he entered the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs and worked at the Japanese Embassy at Nairobi, Kenya from 1994 to 1996. His responsibilities there involved monitoring and analyzing development and human rights situations in Uganda, Kenya, and Rwanda, and the aftermath of genocide. After receiving an M.A. from the School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) at Johns Hopkins University and working for the Brookings Institution, he worked at the UNICEF in New York, and then at the Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in the United Nations. He co-edited No Refuge: The Challenge of Internal Displacement, published by the United Nations in 2003. Throughout his stints at the Brookings Institution as well as the United Nations, Professor Suzuki tirelessly worked to protect and assist refugees and internally displaced persons who were affected by natural and human disasters. In 2011, he served as executive director of Japan Platform, an NGO, working on relief efforts after the earthquake and tsunami that hit northern Japan. His research areas are the protection of and assistance to Internally Displaced Persons, and nuclear policies in Asia, specifically Japan. Professor Suzuki taught at Drexel University and Toyo University (Japan) before joining Villanova University. At Villanova University, Professor Suzuki has been teaching a variety of subjects including International Organization, East Asian Politics, Refugees and Displaced Persons, International Relations, and American Foreign Policy.
Mark writes about the movement to boycott Russian vodka to protest its anti-LGBT legislation. Read about here.
By: Gisela Camba
I first remember viewing the world through a child’s eyes. At that time a street full of family members encompassed my whole world. My mother, sister, brother, and I lived in a section of a house that was divided by eleven families all related to each other. My father had immigrated to America four years earlier right after I was born, and he would send us knick-knacks from America. My brother and I would use whatever business skills we had in making a bit of a profit from some of those knick knacks. My mom likes to recall when my brother had sold little pieces of lottery paper that would either be blank or say “You win!” Of course there was no million dollar prize, but that didn’t stop the kids from buying for the sheer joy of being a winner. My mom found it even more amusing when I sold just a pinch of clay for one peso. We were making a killing in profits since all the kids loved the random American goodies. It was a bit of a game, and at the end of the day we would give whatever we earned to our mom, and then keep on playing with the other kids. Through a child’s eyes I was living a good and fun life. I enjoyed going through the narrow alleys, playing with other kids, and going where I pleased to explore. That street, those alleys, it seemed like such a big world to me.
But I soon came to understand that there were other worlds out there. At the age of five, I came home one day to find my mom packing late into the night, putting all our belongings into suitcases. As I understood it, we were going on a long trip. That trip was my family’s migration to America from the Philippines. Though I did not know it at that time, that one plane ride across the Pacific would have profound consequences for my future. All I knew was that this new country was confusing and I missed my familiar old street. I was no longer in a homogenous society where everyone was Filipino and there was just a sea of black hair. There were people of different races I hadn’t ever seen in person and various colors of hair-yellow, orange, and red. People spoke a language I didn’t understand. I had a father now. We kept moving from my grandma’s house to renting with a friend to our own apartment and finally to a house. Like many immigrant families it wasn’t going to be a smooth transition in regards to culture, family dynamics, and finances. There was a lot to get used to. Everything was so new and different and just hard.
Eric Lomazoff is a proud Philly native; he hails from the Bustleton section of the Far Northeast. After earning his BA in political science at the University of Pennsylvania (2001), Eric worked for two years at the Russell Sage Foundation in New York City. He then entered and completed the Ph.D. program in Government at Harvard University (2010). While at Harvard, he served for six years as the Resident Tutor in Government at Quincy House. Eric’s dissertation in the field of public law, on the history and continuing salience of the constitutional controversy surrounding the Bank of the United States, is currently being revised for publication; the book’s tentative title is Reconstructing the Hydra-Headed Monster. Related research on the Bank was recently published in Studies in American Political Development. This fall, Eric is teaching the first course in a two-course sequence on American constitutional law (focusing on national power and inter-branch relations) and a graduate seminar on constitutional interpretation.
Catherine Warrick: Doing Field Research: evidence, ethics and the unexpected (or, How I Ended Up Marching to Parliament with 50 English Nationalists and a Million Cops)
I’ve spent the past seven months in England, doing field research for my book on Islamic law in the United Kingdom. It’s been fantastic, but honestly, professors don’t do field research for fun. It often is fun – interesting people, new insights, great opportunities – but it’s also expensive, incredibly time consuming, and a bit risky. (Not usually physically risky, although I’ll tell you more about that English nationalist march in a minute….) If you could get the data without leaving your office on campus, you’d probably do that instead. So why am I here?
The primary reason for doing field research is that it’s the best, and sometimes the only, way to collect certain kinds of evidence for a research question. If you want financial data or election results, you can look them up. But for some other questions, you have to talk to people, watch them work, look into their records, and ask a lot of questions. Want to know how shari’a councils handle Islamic divorces? Ask the religious scholars who conduct the hearings, or even better, watch hearings in person and read case files. Want to know what right-wing nationalists think about Muslims? You can follow them on Facebook, but it would be much better to meet them, tag along to their events, and spend hours in the pub listening to them talk about politics and society (and football).
The methods of field research are easily taught, although they take a lot of practice to learn well. There are some intangible aspects, though, that can’t really be built into a research design. In my experience, two particularly important factors have been trust and serendipity.
Trust is vital in my work because I’m usually studying rather sensitive issues. Why should a woman seeking a religious divorce from her abusive husband let me watch her explain her situation to religious authorities? Why should right-wing activists take me along to their events and act as my bodyguards in the fight that breaks out afterward? (Sometimes field research is a little too exciting.) There’s nothing in it for them – they don’t get paid, they don’t get their names in the newspaper, they don’t get any material benefit from helping a professor with her research. They cooperate because they respect scholarship, because they like the chance to explain their lives to an interested observer, or for some other reason, but in every case, they have to trust me, so I have to be honest and transparent with them. They have to know who I am, why I’m interested in them, and what I’m going to do with the information I collect.
Building trust can be time-consuming, and sometimes people say no. This is absolutely their right; no one is obliged to talk to a researcher. Most people, in my experience, say yes, and they are amazingly generous with their time and information.
The other element is serendipity. Sometimes really valuable opportunities in research come by chance. This spring, I was struggling with an aspect of the project and thinking “I wish I had a way of talking to some police officers about this research.” One evening, after giving a public talk, two people came up to me and said, literally, “Hello, we’re police officers, and we’d like to talk to you about your research.” Sometimes, you just get lucky.
That one chance meeting, and some follow-up work, led me to learn some new things, gave me an idea for a future research project, helped me with an aspect of my current research, and even helped me redesign part of a course syllabus. You never know where new ideas or helpful tips will turn up, and while you can’t follow every interesting lead, you have to keep your eyes and your mind open and be prepared for the occasional detour from your research plan.
In the end, field research has to be driven by the evidence you need for the question you’re trying to answer. Some of the evidence may turn out to be unavailable to you. Sometimes the data may come from unexpected or uncomfortable places. But on the whole, it’s a great experience, even a privilege, to be an academic doing field research. The world is an interesting place, and to understand it well, sometimes you have to get out there. Just remember: treat everyone honestly, wear sunscreen, and be nice to the police horses.