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Ricardo Pérez - Professor of Anthropology, Sociology, Anthropology, Criminology and Social Work

Ph.D., University of Connecticut


Ricardo Pérez

What is your favorite class to teach?

“My favorite class to teach is ‘Latinos in the United States’ because it affords me the opportunity to highlight the rich cultures and histories of the different nationalities that make up the Latino population in the United States. The class focuses on the contributions that Latinos have made in diverse areas such as the performing and visual arts, sports, politics and higher education. My goal for the class is to have students understand and appreciate the long presence of Latinos in the fabric of U.S. culture.”

Research interests?

“My research interests include Caribbean transnational migration, globalization, sustainable development and environmental policies. Currently, I am writing a book about Cuba’s experience with international tourism development since the collapse of the Soviet Union and the East European socialist bloc in the early 1990s. It is based on my field research in Jardines del Rey on the north central coast of Cuba for almost two decades. I focus on the impact of international tourism development on Cuban culture, economy and the environment. My main contention is that Cuba can become a model of sustainable tourism development in the Caribbean region.”

What do you find most rewarding about teaching at Eastern?

“The most rewarding aspect about teaching at Eastern for me is getting to know and interact with a diverse group of students. The diverse perspectives of the students coming from urban and rural backgrounds, as well as their diversity along racial, ethnic, class and sexual identities, is invigorating. Those perspectives, grounded on the students’ lived experiences, motivates me to constantly revamp my classes to allow the students’ diverse perspectives and identities to flourish. The more I know the students, the better my interactions with them will be.”

The most rewarding aspect about teaching at Eastern for me is getting to know and interact with a diverse group of students.

Ricardo Pérez giving a presentation

What is your teaching philosophy?

“My teaching philosophy is based on the following principles: (1) learning is a dynamic, multi-directional process with students at the center of the interaction; (2) faculty must be flexible and accommodating to the various learning styles and levels of knowledge of the students that we teach; (3) courses must be developed to provide students with opportunities for engagement and critical reflection; and (4) knowledge about a given subject matter must be applied to real-life situations.

“I strive to create a classroom environment that fosters critical thinking where students feel safe to share their opinions while respecting divergent viewpoints. I believe that a dynamic classroom environment must be student-centered but should revolve around a mutual interaction between the instructor and the students. I rely on different pedagogical techniques such as lecturing and creating opportunities for student engagement in small group discussions, individual and group presentations, debates and role playing.

“Another pedagogical technique that I use is community-based learning, sometimes referred to as service-learning. It helps to promote student engagement with people and community organizations in Willimantic and requires student reflection about their roles as agents of social change.”

Memorable moments at Eastern?

“One of my most memorable moments from my time at Eastern was being the guest curator of a museum exhibit on the history of Latin American immigration to Willimantic for the Windham Textile and History Museum. The project lasted two years between 2011 and 2013 and required me to combine teaching and research activities to produce a visually stunning exhibit with cultural artifacts from various Latin American immigrant communities and video clips.

“I also enjoyed collaborating with faculty colleagues to develop our Anthropology major, which began in fall 2020.”

Career advice to students

“Students interested in Anthropology should hone the skills they gain at Eastern — critical thinking, problem-solving, and clear and effective written and oral communication; these will be assets to any job or future career path.”