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Ricardo Piqueras: “Our aim is to maintain the quality in all areas so that Raval is a distinguished campus”

"There is a student who, regardless of his/her age, is looking for a flexible training offer, which can be adapted to his or her needs and is not as demanding as a university degree. Our departments can offer a wide range of training options."

"There is a student who, regardless of his/her age, is looking for a flexible training offer, which can be adapted to his or her needs and is not as demanding as a university degree. Our departments can offer a wide range of training options."

17/09/2018

Entrevistes

The Dean of the Faculty of Geography and History, Ricardo Piqueras, is an expert on Colonial America and member of the Study Group on Indigenous and Afro-American Cultures (CINAF) and the Asociacion Española de Americanistas. Before being the Dean, he held different positions in the university such as Head of Studies in History studies (2004-2016), Delegate of the Rector for the Teaching Staff Policy (2010-2016) and recently, Vice-Rector for Teaching Staff (2016). Former neighbor in el Raval district, he started talking about the location of the Faculty in this neighborhood in the center of Barcelona.

Since the Faculty is dedicated to Human Sciences studies, you are lucky to be in the center of the historical center of the city, el Raval.

Since the opening of the current Faculty of Geography and History, which was more than ten years ago now, the center has been positively regarded when it comes to the cultural dynamization of the neighborhood, together with other elements, like MACBA (Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art). Sometimes we think that instead of the Faculty bringing something to the area, the district brought something to the Faculty. I think the Faculty of Geography and History adapted quite well to the neighborhood together with the other cultural institutions, MACBA, CCCB, CSIC, Liceu… The bachelor degree on History of Art offers its internship in Liceu or MACBA, for instance. Confucius Institute, in carrer Elisabets, offers lectures in the Faculty. There is an exchange of spaces and experience. We try to have as many bonds as possible to benefit our students and create synergies with the structure of the Raval district.

We are lucky to be in the center of Raval, but there are many people in this area and it can be messy sometimes so some places have to be taken care of a lot, like the public gardens –Victòria dels Àngels- we have inside the Faculty. We are working with Tot Raval and the district itself to show a project so that all organizations in Raval can feel these gardens also theirs.
 
Another benefit of this location is that many students choose this center because it is easily reachable, although this is just one more element. We cannot live out of its location; we have to improve the academic offering so that students understand this is not only a good location but also one of the top centers of the University of Barcelona and the leading one in the field of Human Sciences. This is our objective, to maintain this quality in all the areas so that the campus in Raval continues being a distinguished one.

This is our aim, to keep this quality in all areas so that the campus in Raval keeps being a model one.

What are the main traits of the center’s academic offering?

This Faculty is lucky to have the all-time studies when it comes to its structure, these studies are consolidated and have a high demand. History, History of Art, Anthropology, Geography… these are studies that have existed since the beginnings of the University of Barcelona and are consolidated, apart from other recent degrees like Archaeology, which is under consolidation and well received. This does not mean they should remain always the same, but they are valid. Their structure, which is rather classic, is maintained and is being improved regarding teaching quality. But it does not end here. We worked together with the Faculty of Library and Information Sciences for a future dual-degree on Information Sciences and History, which is a way to open another professional profile, and to launch the next master’s degree on Digital Human Sciences.

However, we are mostly working to improve the offering of post-study degrees. We have a diverse and complex structure for master’s degrees: ten master degrees, four of them being inter-university studies. And we think the post-study degrees are the key for the future and growth. This is related to the fact that there is a student who, regardless of his/her age, is looking for a flexible training offer, which can be adapted to his or her needs and is not as demanding as a university degree. Our departments of History and Archaeology, History of Art, and Anthropology can offer a wide range of training options. Many courses, seminars, and post-study degrees are adapted to this general offer, aimed at a broader audience.

How do graduates face the occupational integration?

Our graduates have to work on their professional future from the moment they enter the university. Regarding employment, we have a person in charge of this topic in the Faculty, the lecturer Santi Riera, who works for SAE. We start working on the “passport for a job” in September. This is an interesting initiative, which is carried out in other faculties, and aims to prepare the students so that they are aware of the importance of education for the labour market. With this passport, the students get their professional folder ready, that is, the training they carried out during the studies regarding aspects such as language learning, courses to prepare an interview, employment guidance, internships… The aim is for the students to be aware of this and start working from the beginning of their studies instead of waiting for the last year to ask themselves what they need to do to enter the labour market.

We want the students to be aware of the importance of research. Of course first year students will not work that much on this because it is not the right time yet, but they have to see what this research is, where it goes, how a project is carried out, its beginnings, etc.

What are the priorities in research?

In this area, the Dean’s Office is working in several lines. With the Vice-Dean for Research, Jaume Buxeda, we thought about making a radiography of the research field in the Faculty. We should have an updated catalogue of researchers, research groups, infrastructures. With this, and the transparency line, we can add all the data in the future site for research of this Faculty, so that everyone can know about the groups we have, the topics they work on, the research area linked to each research group, infrastructures, etc. Then we can assess the financial and infrastructure needs. This site has to do with the renewal of the website of the Faculty, regarding communication. We will try to do so with the provided tools so that research becomes an important part of the web, a visible part.

The Faculty of Geography and History accounts for a 13 % of funded research groups of the UB, we have a total of 38 research groups. Although there is a global financial problem, which has lowered in all faculties, our center is very active in research. There are groups with important European projects, this has to be known. Therefore, dissemination on the task of this research groups is important and we are working on the internal and external communication of the Faculty. The problem is that many times, these research groups work in an in-bred way, there is no collaboration between them. We are also working on this, we want to put together all the experiences of research groups and reinforce the collaboration.

Last, which tasks would you stand out and which might be future challenges for the Faculty?

We have tidied the structure of the Faculty. We just finished working on the merge of departments, which needed approval of new regulations and adjusting its administrative structure. We also revised the regulations of the Faculty, which needed to be updated. Now we are about to reach an agreement and approve it in the Board of the Faculty, which I hope it’s done by the end of the year.

We have clear objectives to work with all worldwide synergies regarding our colleagues in Philosophy, with which we share the building, rooms… We are working together and this was one of the objectives of the Dean’s Office. For instance, we shared the space with the International Relations Office and we are now trying to create a joint structure to make the best of the infrastructures and human resources we have. A problem we have, and I guess this is general, are human resources.

The Faculty, like the other faculties, has many future challenges that are related to the lack of autonomy of the institution, the university. The challenge is to improve funding, teaching staff policies and PDI and PAS staff. This is the main challenge and worry, which is shared in all faculties, and which depends on academic authorities and policies from Generalitat and the Ministry of Education; we need a financial reform urgently.
 
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