by Michelle Jeanne C. Caracut, OPI
It began from a conversation in February 2016 between the Department of Sociology of the College of Arts and Social Sciences and Dr. Jayeel S. Cornelio to deliver a lecture to sociology students on the Sociology of Religion. The reception was so positive during the lecture that the department discussed the possibility of him returning to the Institute as a Visiting Professor to teach a graduate course on Sociology of Religion.
Dr. Jayeel S. Cornelio, who recently received his tenure at the Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU), took a leave of absence for two months which is the summer term in ADMU and taught as Visiting Professor in IIT from June to July.
When asked why he chose to teach in IIT, the 2017 Department of Science and Technology (DOST)- Outstanding Young Scientist (OYS) revealed to this writer three reasons.
“The Department of Sociology in MSU-IIT is one of the strongest in the country. It is the only recognized Center of Development [CHED] …” said Cornelio.
“The network is already there. I am the treasurer of the Philippine Sociological Society and we have at least two officers from MSU-IIT who are part of the board of the organization. We do have a working relationship with this department,” added Cornelio.
He further expressed that it was also the deliberate choice of the sociologists from University of the Philippines-Diliman and ADMU to reach out to the universities in Mindanao. “That’s why for four years up until last year we were running the annual conference in Mindanao.” In 2015, the Institute hosted the National Conference of the Philippine Sociological Society.
A sociologist of religion by training, Cornelio never felt scared in coming to Mindanao considering the ongoing conflict in Marawi, which is 45-minutes away from Iligan City. He reasoned that maybe it is because of the inherent attitude of any good sociologist which is to be adventurous and a risk-taker. He believes that sociology thrives in ruptures, crisis, disasters and everything in between. “We’re very interested in what happens, to people especially, in moments like this,” he said.
Teaching in IIT
Cornelio started his class on June 19 and found his first day of teaching very interesting. He noticed his graduate class was totally diverse. “This is the kind of diversity I don’t think one would ever find easily in Luzon…. Here, diversity is a given and I find it really refreshing,” enthused Cornelio.
Part of the award he received as DOST-OYS is a research grant that he can use and he expressed his interest in doing a research on religion in Mindanao in collaboration with MSU-IIT through the Department of Sociology.
At 35, Cornelio has been very successful in his career as his curriculum vitae is jammed pack with academic qualifications, appointments, honors and awards, research grants, and publications. One who is young and active in the academe and in the community, Cornelio sent inspiring words to sociology majors.
“Given the conflicts and the troubles that we are faced with today, sociology as a perspective is needed more than ever. Martial Law, ISIS, religious conflicts, diversification of migration, inequality, these are problems that didn’t happen overnight. These are problems that we should have seen long ago and these are problems we could address strategically given the right perspective. This is how sociology could contribute to enhancing our understanding of these complex problems. And what is sociology’s contribution? Understanding people. We do not assume that we know them. That’s why we have to talk to them,” he said.
“So, I hope that students will find it inspiring that sociology is an empowering perspective because it does not assume that it knows all the answers to the world’s problems. If anything, it assumes that it does not know anything. That’s why it is very important for sociologists to talk to people, to interview them, to gather data, and to understand the situation on the ground. It is only upon realizing and understanding the situation that we can do better in solving these problems,” he concluded.