VALENTINE, Scott Victor
1. Could you tell us a little about your background?
Where are you from and what were you doing before joining us here at CityU? My main vocation is trying to figure out how the world works. This is a work in progress but so far this vocation has taken me down very interesting path. I grew up in Vancouver, Canada. Having undertaken a bachelor’s degree in business administration, I started out in the business world. I was in advertising, sales and distribution earlier in my career. In 1990, I decided that I wanted to see the rest of the world and so I started the odyssey by moving to Japan. This marked the start of a truly global adventure that led me down a number of very interesting paths and really transformed me from a spectator to participant in regard to what goes on in our world. In the 25 years since then, I've lived in Japan, Taiwan, Thailand, Australia, Singapore and traveled to dozens of countries. I have started up three companies (one of which was eventually purchased by Sony), I became the only foreign-born director within the British Council, I earned a 3rd degree degree black belt in karate which enables me to teach karate, and of course, I gradually found my way to academia, which is a vocation I truly love being part of.
2. What attracted you to Hong Kong, and CityU in particular?
Prior to Hong Kong, I was an Associate Professor and Associate Director of the International Master of Public Policy program at the graduate school of public policy at the University of Tokyo. I enjoyed living in Tokyo because there are so many fascinating sites sounds and flavors to experience. However, I have a young daughter and I wanted to ensure that she is brought up in a Chinese-English environment. This century is the year of the rise of China and I think that any young person who can be bilingual in these two languages and comfortable with both cultures will have a bright future. This is one key reason why I chose Hong Kong. The reason I chose City University is because I was attracted to the bridging role that was offered to me. In my opinion, public policy is a fascinating and highly rewarding academic field. In order to succeed in this field, one needs to read broadly and view problems from a holistic perspective. Therefore, when I was offered a joint position within the Department of Public Policy and the School of Energy and Environment, I jumped at the chance to collaborate with the broad spectrum of talented faculty that City University has attracted.
3. How do you see your research interests and goals as relating to that of your colleagues here in the Department of Public Policy?
I am primarily an environmental policy researcher. However, my academic background is extremely diverse and I think that one of my greatest attributes is that my perspectives on environmental policy issues are very broad. As a result, I see connections to academic pursuits that are not often highlighted. When I was asked to identify which of the six core sub-fields within the Department of Public Policy that I would like to align myself with, I indicated all six. The environment influences and is influenced by everything. There are connections everywhere. In my opinion, failing to fully understand the connections within this seamless web results in the unsustainable practices that we see today. Achieving true sustainability means understanding philosophy, sociology, urban policy, politics, management, science, engineering and a host of other academic pursuits. Accordingly, one of my main goals here is to reach out to colleagues and hopefully persuade them to join me in taking our knowledge and applying it in practical ways that will inspire and engage our students.
4. Who do you imagine as the audience for your work, and who do you see as conversation partners?
As a researcher, our primary audience is the experts within the sub-field within which we operate. Therefore, I am essentially trying to influence environmental policy makers and environmental policy researchers with my published work. However, as an educator and a member of the community, the audience for my work is far broader. First and foremost, I consider my main goals as an educator are to inspire and motivate by helping them understand the importance of the insights that we are trying to impart to them on a day-to-day basis. To me, this means getting active and engaging with the community. This really excites me. When I see students get involved in a project that actually benefits the community, it is heartwarming. When I see such involvement catalyzing passion and a desire to get involved in bettering society and our environment, that is truly the greatest reward. Frankly this is why I became an educator.
5. What are you researching at the moment, and what excites you about it?
Right now I'm finishing off a book on wind power policy and politics. What excites me most about the work that has gone into this book is the understanding that the barriers to wind power are actually no longer economic. The barriers are predominantly social, technological and political. In other words, the traditional justification for rejecting wind power - that it is simply too expensive - no longer applies in many nations. This gives me great hope that wind power can play a significant role in helping to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and play a role in averting what is shaping up to be the greatest ecological disaster humanity has ever faced.
6. What are your particular teaching interests, and how would you describe your teaching style?
I'm particularly interested in teaching environmental policy and corporate environmental management. However, I have a number of side interests and find that teaching in these areas serves to stimulate my understanding of a given topic and motivate me to incorporate some of these insights into my work. Therefore, I'm actually open to teaching virtually anything, provided that I could do so in a way that would inform and inspire the students.
In terms of teaching style, I guess I would say that I like structure, I hold myself and students to high standards and I prefer high levels of interaction in my classes.
7. Do you have a sense of what you wish to accomplish in your first year here?
I guess the diplomatic answer to this is to say that I want to be successful with a research grant, I hope to have x number of publications and I want to achieve a comparatively high rating on the TLQ. The truth is, these are not really my goals because I find such goals to be superficial and in the long run self-defeating.
My primary goal is to be a positive colleague who inspires and helps enable the success of others. I know that that sounds contrite, but it is true. Since I've been here, I've tried very hard to try to understand what people are involved in, what their interests are and where common ground may lay. In research, my only goal is to become more knowledgeable in my field and to improve my technical skills as a researcher. I know from experience that by doing so, the results will take care of themselves. In teaching, my only goal is to cobble together the most inspirational class possible and then progressively improve on it. Again, the results will take care of themselves. I actually don't aspire to leadership; I have already done that – I was executive vice-president of a multimedia company, a director within the British Council and the dean of a preparatory college. Rather, I aspire to meet the high standards that I set for myself for I am easily my greatest critic. Strive to live with passion and integrity…that is first on my “to do” list. Everything else takes care of itself.
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