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Ambassador Leslie J. Baja gives a copy of the book "Highlights of Relations between the Phlippines and Switzerland" to Dr. Bettina Beer of the University of Lucerne.

Philippine Embassy in Berne helps promote Philippine Studies at Swiss university

Philippine Ambassador to Switzerland Leslie J. Baja met on 16 April 2012 with Dr. Bettina Beer, Professor of Ethnology, at Universităt Luzern to discuss ways on how to spur interest on the Philippines among university students in Switzerland.

“The Embassy is developing a network of Philippinists in Switzerland whom we can tap to help us in our efforts toward raising awareness of the Philippines among various sectors of society in Switzerland,” explained Ambassador Baja. Earlier, the Ambassador met with officials of the University of Bern for the same purpose.

Ambassador Baja discussed the possibility of having a series of lectures on the Philippines of interests to students at Universităt Luzern and the establishment of a Philippine corner at the University’s main library.

At present, specialized courses on the Philippines is being taught at Universităt Luzern every third semester of academic calendar. Classes per semester offering sit around 25 undergraduate students, comprised mostly of Swiss nationals and a sprinkling second generation Swiss Filipinos. Prof. Beer, who has an avid interest on Philippine anthropology and has already published at least two books on the subject, wants to develop an exchange program between university students, from undergraduate to post doctoral, and faculty members from Switzerland and the Philippines.

“Eventually, I hope the University can develop a curriculum on Philippine Studies and have regular student excursions to the Philippines (every two years) to immerse our students in communities of their research interest,” said Prof. Beer.

The Anthropology Department of Universităt Luzern already has a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) each with the University of the Philippines in Diliman and San Carlos University in Cebu. One of the provisions of the MOU is an exchange program between students and faculty members from both countries.

“I encourage Filipino students (from undergraduate to post-doctoral) and faculty members interested in the exchange program to apply for funding support at the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF). Faculty members are expected to teach research methodology on anthropology for one year. Subjects/fields of teaching could also be in related fields such as, but not limited to, history, economics, linguistics, archeology, and sociology,” added Prof. Beer.

The MOU sprung from the efforts of Prof. Beer to develop linkages between her university and Philippine universities on anthropology, which is her field of interest. The professor was recently in Bohol with a group of undergraduate students from Universităt Luzern to study anthropological methods in the Philippines and to immerse the students in communities that are subjects of their research. She was also invited to be part of the editorial board of the Journal on Southeast Asia and Anthropology published by the University of the Philippines in Diliman.

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