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Oblation image taken from the UP Artist's Circle Fraternity mural (1996)



February 10, 2004

The College of Social Sciences and Philosophy (CSSP) is the largest college in UP Diliman in terms of number of departments and institutes, and the second largest in terms of student population. The college is home to eight of the major social science disciplines (Anthropology, Demography, Geography, History, Linguistics, Political Science, Psychology, and Sociology). It is also home to Philosophy, which, like Mathematics in the College of Science, transcends the disciplinal divide among the three colleges that once constituted the "great" College of Arts and Sciences (CAS)-which in turn proudly traced its roots to the old College of Liberal Arts, center of the University's postwar intellectual renaissance in the 1950s.

CSSP is home to many nationally and internationally recognized scholars, as well as to public intellectuals who shape national opinion on culture, society, and politics. It boasts of a competent research staff of well-trained social scientists, and more than 2000 undergraduate and 600 graduate students who are among the country's best and brightest.

To date, CSSP is the University's main institutional channel for transmitting social science modes of thought, methodologies and bodies of knowledge in the Philippines. The graduates of the College serve various sectors including academe, the NGO development community, media and government agencies. The graduate students who pass through its portals include the social science faculty of other universities and UP units. A few of our graduates also end up in the private business sector and in international UN and development donor agencies.

Proof of the centrality of CSSP's role in training the country's future social scientists is that five out of six Centers of Excellence (COEs) in the social science disciplines covered by the Commission on Higher Education are in the College (the sixth is Economics). Of the five, the Departments of Political Science and History are the only COEs in their respective disciplines in the country. It is notable that some of the disciplines in CSSP that fall outside the scope of the CHED Centers of Excellence Project (Demography, Geography and Linguistics) are the leading, if not the only training institutions, in their respective disciplines in the Philippines. They are not Centers of Excellence only because the CHED project excludes programs that are not found in most colleges and universities.

In light of this role and the fact that CSSP is also at the forefront of UP's general education program, teaching continues to be a fundamental mandate of the College. Aware of its mission to educate those who will lead in various fields and branches of knowledge in the future, the College takes every effort to develop critical thinkers---potential leaders among the next generation equipped both with wings to fly in a global era and deep historical and cultural roots. While the College nurtures the life of the mind, it is also aware of its mandate to develop whole persons who are capable of analyzing and understanding social problems and issues, are imbued with a sense of mission to help our nation address the 19th and 20th century problems that have bogged it down, and possess the spiritual strength to face the personal, national and global challenges posed by the rapidly changing world of the 21st century.

Apart from teaching, CSSP is mandated to lead in the production of social science knowledge that will deepen our understanding of social phenomena and shed light on concrete problems that beset our nation. As academics, the CSSP faculty members are expected to keep abreast of developments in their disciplines. However, since real life problems such as poverty, environmental degradation and urban decay as well as conceptual issues such as modernity, pluralism, indigenization and cosmopolitanism require frameworks that transcend artificial disciplinal barriers, it is essential that the faculty conduct research, preferably in collaboration with other researchers and, when appropriate, in consultation with stakeholders and the beneficiaries of the research.

The third function of the CSSP faculty is extension or direct service to virtual and geographic communities within the environs of UP and beyond, communities that stand to benefit from the knowledge the College produces. Its faculty has been at the forefront of extramural programs for social science teachers in the country. Its members have individually and collectively undertaken useful locally-specific studies and training for various communities depending on the discipline's expertise. For instance, during the summer the Department of Geography conducts on-site data-gathering and research in various communities all over the country, thus assisting these communities in building databases that will shed light on their environmental situation. The Population Institute has conducted various training programs to aid technical experts in local governments in analyzing data that will improve their extension of services to constituencies especially the poor.

While the College has developed a track record in the primary functions of teaching, research and extension, the fulfilment of its mission is still constrained by many factors. For one, some of its facilities have deteriorated and will need to be modernized if the College is to be on par with similar institutions in other parts of the world. Moreover, compared to their counterparts in other Philippine-based universities, some of CSSP's faculty members are distracted by the need to find supplemental sources of income outside the University to maintain simple but decent middle class lifestyles given the low salaries they receive from UP. This has adversely affected their capacity to teach well, to enhance student-centered learning, and to undertake research and perform extension services. Their office environment has also not been fully conducive to academic work. The Faculty Center has become quite congested, with several academics sharing one very small room.

This is not to say that the University has not taken bold initiatives to counter the deterioration of facilities and faculty demoralization. Some of our laboratories have received a shot in the arm from the UP System administration which has provided seed money to renovate them. Just recently, the Department of Geography has upgraded its capabilities with the establishment of a Geographic Information System Laboratory, making it possible for researchers from other departments to pursue GIS-aided projects. The Department of Psychology is currently upgrading its laboratories. The College also received additional maintenance funds from the UP Diliman administration to rewire, re-roof and repaint the AS Building (Palma Hall). It obtained seed money from both the Diliman and UP System administrations to construct a new Faculty Center beside Palma Hall. More importantly, the UP administration has raised funds for doctoral fellowships abroad and devised strategies such as research and book awards that reward scholarship. Its recent struggle to pass Senate Bill 2587-an Act Amending the Charter of the University of the Philippines, which would have put the University in the position to generate its own funds-is commendable and fully supported by the academic community. Unfortunately, politics got in the way of the Senate passing the bill at this time.

Despite its efforts, the University's resources are not sufficient to revitalize the College. At best, they may be construed as counterpart funds that will put CSSP in a better position to generate the remaining resources it needs to provide the physical and academic infrastructure for the fulfilment of its mission. In this connection, the Social Sciences and Philosophy Research Foundation (SSPRF), a non-stock, non-profit organization dedicated to supporting research and other academic activities of the CSSP faculty, will be launching several projects even as the College reviews its programs and reinvents its disciplines in the context of global and national developments. These projects are:

In this regard, we are calling on our Alumni to come to the aid of the College with contributions that will help build the resources that will enable it to fulfill its institutional missions-as our society's leader in social science research, and as our country's premier tertiary institution of learning in the social sciences. The building of institutions is not a simple task; it is the work of generations, transcending physical and temporal boundaries, and linking us with our society and with each other in a common identity and a shared destiny. Our academic community is our society in microcosm; its history will be the history of that society as well. Needless to say, we all have a stake in that history. We invite you, therefore, to re-imagine yourselves as members of this continuing community of scholars, intellectuals, human beings, and Filipinos.

Yours truly,

Maria Cynthia Rose Banzon Bautista
Dean (August 2001 - July 2004)