FA: What initially attracted you to IE Business School?
RP: I had previously worked with public universities, and there are very important differences between the public and private universities. A private institution, such as IE Business School, has the sort of flexibility that a public institution does not. It is possible to have an original idea at the beginning of the day that you can work through and evaluate it at the end of the day. I became involved with IE Business School in 2003 because I was a full professor of demography at Complutense, and for my last eight years, I was also the Rector. The first position I held at IE, was that of Vice President of the Instituto de Empresa Foundation. I am now the President of IE University, formerly Universidad SEK, located in Segovia. Next month, in the MBA program, I will be teaching about demography and its relationship with economics. IE Business School is one of the best educational institutions, not only in Spain, but in Europe and also the world and it is a privilege to collaborate with them.
FA: What does your job as Vice-President of the Instituto de Empresa Foundation entail?
RP: The Instituto de Empresa Foundation strives to develop research programs for professors. We also organize grants, scholarships, seminars, congresses, cultural activities, and publish doctoral theses. We publish two magazines. We also coordinate research centers, such as Enter, which deals with new forms of communication. We additionally develop different activities, resolve problems and are particularly happy to fund scholarships and grants for students at IE Business School.
FA: You have been a member of many different boards, and participated in many different organizations throughout your career. What qualities do they all have in common that drew you to them?
RP: I believe that the main problem for many institutions is the problem of quality. In the past, universities in Spain had the challenge of quantity. By having a very large student population, it was impossible to have a special quality of teaching. In the past, it was jokingly said that Spanish universities were factories for unemployment, but this is certainly not true anymore. There is a big difference between universities and business schools, and I believe the quality of the business school is more important. We have built IE University to have business school quality. It is time for quality not quantity. My idea is to introduce the quality of a business school in Segovia an important level of quality in with research, teaching and management. This is my main challenge at the moment. My role as Vice President of CRUE (Conferencia de Rectores de Universidades Españolas), was a great experience. CRUE is composed of the 70 different Spanish universities. In my position, I worked with various government ministers, and foreign ministries and it was one of the most important experiences in my career.
FA: As a specialist in demographics, what have been some of the most important changes that you have seen over your course of your career?
RP: Out of all of the changes that I have seen over the years, I believe that there are three major changes currently happening in our society. The first is a decrease of birth rates and fertility levels. This is particularly pressing in developed countries. The second is the increase of the age and number of the elderly. This is especially relevant when dealing with limited economic resources. The third is that of international migration. The number of international migrants has greatly increased, and the number of women migrants has also increased. These three concerns are the most important not only in the present, but also for the future. Demographic globalization affects all countries in the same way that all problems affect all countries around the world. They are very true in Spain, especially, as all of the aforementioned topics are markedly different than they were in the 1960s and 1970s. Currently, in Spain, there is an average of 1.3 children per woman, the lowest in Europe may be Poland which averages 1.1, but either way, Spain is at the bottom. Spain’s current population consists of about 17% of people that are over the age of 65.
FA: In what ways has global climate change affected your discipline?
RP: Someone once said, with some exaggeration, that economics was the science of the 20th Century and that demography is the science of the 21st Century. Demography is a discipline which is composed by different kinds of knowledge. It can include disciplines such as sociology, history, geography among others. It can also include medical science, such as studying the effects of aging, so essentially demography relates to global climate change in that global climate change affects the disciplines which constitute demography.
FA: When you write for the humanities blog, The Sapiens Tribune www.sapienstribune.net , how do you choose the topics that you write about?
RP: When I write for the Sapiens Tribune, I offer a general panorama of Spanish demography. I have written about natality, aging, marriage and my next posts will include discussions on interior immigration, the elderly and the future of the Spanish population.
FA: There has been a lot of discussion about the current value and the state of humanities. In your experience, how would you describe the value of humanities?
RP: The role of humanities is one of the most important in the future of education, both undergraduate and postgraduate. The lessons that can be learned from the humanities are important to the better and more complete formation of a professional. Humanities help to form the mind and improve knowledge and allow for the incorporation for all different kinds of knowledge.
FA: Throughout your career, how has education changed? What lessons do you offer for students?
RP: Actually, I believe it is important to change the mentality of professors. Professors are used to a magisterial system in which they do all of the talking, and students do all of the listening. Students must learn to speak, prepare lessons, perform research and be more active in the classroom, just as professors must learn how to be more passive.