Interview with Jonas Villas, Executive Director, Leyte Normal University, Philippines. Research Consultant to the United Nations Water and Climate Coalition for the crafting of the Water and Climate Youth Development Plan and Agenda
Keywords: Higher education, research, innovation, entrepreneurship, sustainable development goals, water and climate, startups.
Can you tell us a little about your role as Executive Director for Research and Innovation?
The Office of Research and Innovation (ORI) spearheads fund generation in the conduct of research. It maintains a partnership with the instrumentalities of the Philippine government and other universities locally and abroad to access grants. Alongside this, the office takes the lead in monitoring the research productivity of the university and reviews and recommends new policies such as incentive systems, agenda, and other dynamics that are necessary to achieve a sustainable climate of research in education, arts and sciences, management, and entrepreneurship. The ORI also supervises centers for research and innovation in the field of teacher education, science, environment, culture, and development and the knowledge creation and innovation center which focuses on assisting faculty with intellectual property registrations and business incubation.
How does your university’s research agenda aim to respond to the needs of society?
The research agenda of the university captures the agenda of the Philippine government in research and development. It is also aligned with the united nation's sustainable development goals with a focus on SDG 1 – No poverty, SDG 4 – Quality Education, SDG 5 – Gender Equality, and SDG 17 – Partnerships to achieve Goals. To date, the university takes part in Water and Climate Action with its participation as a research consultant to the Water and Climate Coalition with the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) as secretariat. The University takes part in the delegation of the WMO in the recently concluded Conference of Parties and conference of Youth in Egypt with a key role in the development of the Water and Climate Youth Development Plan and Agenda for the UN Water Conference in March of 2023.
In general, the research agenda of the university puts the welfare and needs of society at the center of its community engagement. As a university that is from a developing country with a specific locale poverty index of 20.8% ( PSA, 2021) the university develops key research in education and transforms outputs into action through its community extension programs. The research of the university also highlights biodiversity studies in peatlands, lakes, early warning systems, water access, sanitation, and hygiene, and disaster risk and reduction to address climate change.
City of Manila, the capital of the Philippines
Picture Credit: Pixabay
How do you try to monitor the impact of the university’s research on society?
Research impact is monitored based on the indicators of publication, citation, and technology generation and transfer. Real-time monitoring is done through self-reportorial to a university online system that logs publications, citations, and intellectual property applications. As the quality of research outputs is premium to the mere quantity of publications, the university monitors and withheld publication support if an author's publisher is found predatory.
How does the university help students who have the ambition to run their own companies in the future?
The college of management and entrepreneurship in the university is a fountain source of local business start-ups. In their collegiate programs, business proposals and prototypes of students are evaluated by investors and are funded by them if their evaluation is deemed feasible. In the past semester, six business proposals received commitments for capital outlay.
How do you also prepare students to become good citizens, who understand eg cultural, social, and environmental needs?
Leyte Normal University is a state university with teacher education as a flagship program. As an institution of learning anchored on the values of integrity, excellence, and service, the university is committed to supporting and taking a central role in achieving sustainable development by 2030.
Experiencing the worst in typhoon Haiyan, the university stood firm to establish partnerships to ensure knowledge creation and dissemination in line with climate issues. The university also positioned itself to establish infrastructures with carbon offsetting mechanisms to assure a sustainable future. This is done along with the continued effort to educate the future leaders of this world.
The university has produced climate advocates that champion climate action in various parts of the world along with its partnerships with various organizations standing for the same cause. For over 100 years of existence, the university mentored thousands of teachers regardless of gender, preferences, and race. It stands in its dictum of esteemed professionalism which a teacher should always represent without curtailing the freedom of self-expression. Hence, preparing students to become good citizens, who understand eg cultural, social, and environmental needs