Beatriz Bustos ’05 MPA ’10 PhD Teaches and Conducts Research on Rural Development and Economic Geography in Chile

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Photo: (Beatriz Bustos, center in black) As part of Beatriz Bustos’ “environmental policy in a developing country” class for Syracuse Abroad students, she takes them on fieldtrips where they can learn about the complexities of environmental management and policies in Chile. Recently, they visited the Panul forest in the margins of Santiago to discuss the ways in which the city expansion threatens delicate ecosystems that provide ecological services to the city itself.

Beatriz Bustos is an Assistant Professor in the Geography Department at Universidad de Chile. As a Fulbright Scholar, Beatriz completed her MPA in 2005 and then continued with a PhD in Geography, completing it in 2010. She also holds a BA in Public Administration (’00) and a Master in Anthropology and Development (’04) from the University of Chile.

In her work, Beatriz teaches and conducts research on rural development, economic geography and methodology. Currently she is working on research funded by the Chilean National Science Council (CONICYT), studying the transformations experienced by local communities in Chiloé as a result of the ISA crisis, which affected the Chilean salmon industry in 2008. The research aims to understand the material transformations in circuits of accumulation, local economic practices, as well as the discourse produced to legitimize the return of the salmon industry. She also keeps connected with Syracuse University by teaching a course on Chilean environmental policy for Syracuse Abroad students.

Beatriz recounts her decision to come to Maxwell: “As a Fulbright Scholar I was very excited to start a program in the United States, but I wasn’t very sure about where to go. When my Fulbright advisor suggested the Maxwell School I knew it was the right choice. I was very impressed with the mix of social science programs and public policy in one school, the commitment of producing research connected with real issues, as well as the down to earth nature of the PA program. I started the MPA program in 2004 but when I graduated in 2005, I knew I wasn´t done with Maxwell and applied for the PhD program in Geography. Geography became the best place for studying the complexities of environmental policy for its strong theoretical background but also for its social commitment, active and brilliant faculty and great work environment. The graduate community was active, academically challenging but also friendly and supportive, something that made my Maxwell years something to remember.”

She believes Maxwell courses provided not only the theoretical grounds for her current job, but also a way of thinking about problems, using an open mind to critically examine reality, and getting students to ask questions and promoting dialogue within the classroom. Beatriz also attributes the Future Professoriate Program (FPP) as an important asset to begin her teaching career. Mentorship was also a key to success: “My mentor, Bob Wilson, provided wisdom and friendly advice to plan my academic career.”

While she could “name all of them” when asked which courses were most valuable, Political Ecology with Tom Perreault was a standout: “[It was] the class that opened new paths for me – one of them being a PhD. It was a vibrant class with a great group of students from all different academic backgrounds but united in our passion for understanding environment-society complexities.” She also notes that for Professor O’Leary’s Managing for the Environment class, Professor Pralle’s Environmental Politics and Professor Mitchell’s Geography of Capital: “I have gone back to those readings and notes over and over.”

Beatriz can be contacted at bibustos@uchilefau.cl.
To read more alumni profiles, visit the Office of Alumni Relations website.

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