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Cristian Harris Video Transcript

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[Interviewer] Welcome to the University of North Georgia Political Science& International Affairs department's YouTube channel, where we present interviews with our students and our faculty members to highlight their accomplishments and insights. In this segment of our "Meet Our Faculty" series, you will have the opportunity to meet Dr. Cristian Harris, the program coordinator of our Master of Arts in International Affairs graduate degree program. Good afternoon Dr. Harris.

[Dr. Harris]  Good Afternoon. 

[Interviewer]  Could you start off by telling us about yourself? 

[Dr. Harris]  Well, I joined the faculty of, what was formerly North Georgia College and State University and now it's University of North Georgia, in 2005. I, previously I had worked the College of New Jersey in New Jersey, at the University of Texas at Austin, at Queen's University in Ontario, Canada, and the University of Delaware. And University of Delaware is where I earned my postgraduate degrees, first Master of Arts in International Affairs in in Political Science in 2001. My undergraduate studies were in Argentina where I'm originally from. And my undergraduate studies were five years, and it's called "Licenciatura". And it's in International Relations.

[Interviewer]  Well thank you. What, what are your primary areas of interest?  Obviously international affairs, international relations in the big, overarching scheme. But, what more specifically would be your areas of interest and in addition to that, what classes then do you teach here at the University of North Georgia?

[Dr. Harris]  Well, I was hired to teach classes in international affairs although the degree not exist at the time. The classes that were, that I was tasked to teach were international affairs. And within international affairs, classes about Latin American politics. Then I started teaching international organization, development, international political economy, comparative government. And when the graduate program was launched I started teaching classes at the graduate level. So, I would say then my areas primarily are international affairs and comparative politics. My area of interest in particular is development, comparative development – international political economy.

[Interviewer]  Related to that then it sounds like your, most of your adult life has been teaching, or helping students learn. What got you into teaching in the first place? You, you just mentioned international economic development. But why international affairs as a big picture, and then, tertiarily, why here at UNG?

[Dr. Harris]  Well, originally my plan was to go into the Foreign Service, work for the Foreign Service in Argentina. And in the process I applied to earn a graduate degree in the US. And I went to the University of Delaware. At the completion of the degree I went back home, I went back to Argentina. And in the meantime I worked for a private company, an oil refinery in Argentina.  And in the meantime my former academic advisor contacted me and said whether I was interested in coming back to the US for a PhD and eventually I accepted it. And I was influenced along the way by faculty both in Argentina and in Delaware, who encouraged me to think about teaching as a way of earning a living. And I got very positive feedback from peers and from students and I, I just started enjoying what I was doing and at one point --  I can't remember exactly when -- I stopped the idea, I basically gave up on the idea of applying for the Foreign Service in Argentina and instead decided to start seriously thinking about employment in teaching, in education.  In, once I graduated from Delaware in 2001 I started submitting applications. And that's where I worked in New Jersey, and later on I applied for a job here at UNG -- what was called North Georgia College and State University. And they were looking for somebody who would teach Latin American politics, who would teach Global Issues, and classes in comparative government and that fit my profile perfectly. And I accepted when, when I interviewed for this position I was offered the position and I accepted it.

[Interviewer]  So you're obviously happy here. Roughly two decades of teaching. What ... 

[Dr. Harris]  More than two decades. 

[Interviewer]  More decades...   

[Dr. Harris] More than two decades -- Yes. That would be more than 25 years, yes.

[Interviewer]  What keeps you coming back every semester; what motivates you?

[Dr. Harris]  Well that's a good question.  I, as I mentioned to you, I worked in the private sector. I also worked for the not-for-profit sector while I was in Canada, and I can say that I have had experience both in teaching and in private, as well as, not-for-profit. And the reason that I'm more attracted to teaching is because it's, it's always different, every semester, and every year, is something new. There is something new. You approach the same subject but we are dealing with international affairs, and current events have a tendency to shake our perceptions, our ideas and our understanding of the world. And they challenge us to go back, to rethink what we had traditionally assumed, and approach current events with a new set of eyes, to look at things with a new, from a different perspective or a new point of view. That makes it interesting. And it's a way of combining what your research interests are, what your passion for, for, for teaching is, and you try to translate that into what you, do in the classroom. what you can bring to the classroom. I think that international affairs is, it's a very exciting field. You can look at the past to learn to draw lessons. You can try to predict to see patterns to predict. But at the same time I think that the reality is always new and it's constantly changing, so that's what keeps me coming back. And students are always asking questions that force you to think harder, to be clear, to be precise, and that, that feedback, that almost immediate feedback, is very rewarding. It's very refreshing.

[Interviewer]  Let's turn it around a little bit the other direction. What about your profession, if you could change, would you change?

[Dr. Harris]   That, when I started looking for jobs so there were many things that I didn't know were involved in academia.  Perhaps the, the things that are not commonly associated with teaching in the classroom are the aspects of the profession that could be changed or at least managed differently. That, overall I would say that the profession, in terms of academia, in terms of teaching, I wouldn't change much. It's more the other aspects that are attached to it. 

[Interviewer]  In closing -- What do you have to say to students, our viewers who are either prospective, or former, students of both the graduate and the undergraduate program?

[Dr. Harris]  UNG has always been recognized for being a small university, even though in terms of numbers we are not small anymore, but we, students always, previous students, past graduates, always mention that they get to know their faculty. That their faculty are very approachable and they spend valuable time with them explaining to them how to improve in their education and in terms of their overall professional development and personal development. I would say that UNG is a place where you can walk through the door of one of your professors and the professor will take time to talk to you, personally, get to know you and hear your questions and answer your questions, particularly as they apply to you and not just some general comment or general advice -- they will listen to you and try to make it fit for your personal interests.

[Interviewer]  Thank you for your time Dr. Harris.  Continued success in helping our undergrads and our grad students in the MAIA program #experiencemore. 

[Dr. Harris]   Thank you.

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