Mount Union Professor Reflects on Summer Abroad
September 21, 2011
Throughout his life, Dr. Santosh Saha, professor of history at the University of Mount Union, has dedicated much of his research studies to the history of developing nations, human rights, human development, ethnic conflict and agriculture. In fact, the author of 14 published books has researched or taught in six of the seven continents. This past summer, he spent his summer in Oxford, United Kingdom conducting and presenting research.
Saha presented the paper entitled Amartya Sen’s Concept of Human Rights to more than 50 professors at the Oxford Round Table Conference in August. Sen is an Indian economist, Nobel Laureate and professor at Harvard University. The article Saha presented has been submitted to a philosophical journal of Princeton University.
According to Saha, the residence hall rooms at Oxford University had no air conditioner, no fan, no telephone and no TV, and yet not a single professor complained. “Perhaps the Old World can teach something about learning to the “brave” New World,” he added.
Aside from presenting his research abroad, he received a Star Grant from Mount Union to conduct archival research at the famous Bodleian Library of the University of Oxford. He also visited various historical and cultural sites such as the Museum of the History of Science, which is a department of Oxford University. This particular museum contains Albert Einstein’s blackboard, which still has traces of chalked equations from a lecture in 1931, and is home to the world’s largest and most important collection of astrolabes. It is also the museum that contains apparatus and model from the discoverer of Penicillin, which was developed in Oxford in the 1940s. Saha also visited the medieval house of Shakespeare at Stratford-upon-Avon, not far from Oxford’s campus. This house is where the young William Shakespeare courted his future bride Anne Hathaway at her picturesque family home. According to Saha, the house has gardens with traditional Tudor planting and Shakespeare-themed sculptures.
Saha thoroughly enjoys teaching history, but research has always been his passion. It is important to him because he believes that, if an instructor is not aware of the current developments in his or her discipline, he or she cannot add to the classroom conversa¬tion with confidence. In his opinion, academic classes are mostly about interpretation and learning from books, and sometimes one can get stuck. That’s when he believes exploration comes into play. New knowledge comes from reading books and conducting research, and allows him to maintain a lively link with his students.
Classes began at Mount Union on August 29, and Saha has already begun sharing his research and cultural experiences with his students. He truly understands the importance of these experiences as he incorporates both into classroom teaching, and he feels that is beneficial and enlightening for students, no matter what their major is. His first and last words are always, “teach as you can.”
His research interests include African ethnicity and social and religious problems in emerging nations. His articles have been published in Journal of Negro History, Australian Journal of Politics and History, Canadian Journal of African History, Moscow Academy of Sciences Journal of Ethnicity, Africa Quarterly, Cambridge Journal of Social Sciences, Oxford Journal of Public Forum, Scandinavian Journal of Development Alternatives and Area Studies and International Journal of Social Sciences, among others. Among Saha’s 14 books (authored and co-edited), 10 of them relate to the disciplines of history, religion and culture. Some of these books include The Politics of Ethnicity and the National Politics and Religious Fundamentalism in the Contemporary World: Critical Social and Political Issues.
Saha earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Calcutta University Presidency College, a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of London, a Master of Arts degree from Calcutta University and a Doctor of Philosophy degree from Kent State University, all in history. He also earned a Bachelor of Law degree in English law from Calcutta University Law College. Prior to joining the faculty at Mount Union, he taught history in India, Ethiopia, Zambia and Liberia. He has also taught classes at Kent State University and the University of Toledo.