January 2017 Member Highlight: Mariano Rojas, ISQOLS President
ISQOLS President, 2017-2018
Letter to the ISQOLS Community_January 2017 from Mariano Rojas:
ISQOLS is a great Society and I feel honored of serving it as President for the period 2017-2018. ISQOLS gathers researchers and practitioners interested in promoting quality of life, well-being, and happiness around the world. The Society is composed of marvelous scholars from all corners of the world and from many disciplines of study; they all have a common goal: doing serious research to understand and promote people’s well-being. I consider them not only as highly renowned researchers but, fundamentally, as good friends. The strength of ISQOLS rests not only on the individual quality of each member but also on their regional and disciplinary diversity. The world is a vast place; people do have different life trajectories, perspectives, and values; they do also come from different cultures. In this context the study of people’s well-being makes it necessary to have a multicultural and a multidisciplinary perspective.
Perhaps the greatest challenge we face in understanding people’s well-being is that the current compartmentalization of knowledge promotes the study of pieces of human beings rather than that of the whole human being. Academic disciplines are used to work with simplified disciplinary agents; for example, my own experience as an economics student was to deal with the well-being of the so-called consumer agent. It is easy to realize that the theories that are relevant to study the well-being of a consumer are quite limited to understand and promote the well-being of concrete human beings of flesh and blood. In this academic era where the compartmentalization of knowledge prevails and where most universities are organized in disciplinary schools and faculties it is important to have Societies such as ISQOLS that provide the opportunity of being exposed to the research of colleagues from disciplines as diverse as psychology, social work, marketing, sociology, philosophy, anthropology, economics, biology, and many others. This multidisciplinary knowledge is crucial to fully grasp the main issues of relevance for the well-being of people.
I do still remember my first contact with ISQOLS; it was when I attended the 2000 conference in Girona, Spain. A whole new world of knowledge opened before my eyes, and I had the opportunity of meeting many researchers who were doing interesting and relevant things; many of them are now not only my colleagues but also my good friends. Since Girona in 2000 -and with a couple of exceptions- I have participated in all ISQOLS conferences and in each new conference I am always surprised by finding new research lines and new approaches. In fact, research in quality of life, well-being and happiness has expanded substantially during the past years.
It has been 20 years since the first ISQOLS conference which took place in the University of Northern British Columbia in August 1996. We do now have a mature Society that can take advantage of the substantial work made during the preceding decades by many great scholars. We are walking safe on the shoulder of giants. Of course, new challenges are emerging; for example, there is greater demand for public and private actions to enhance quality of life, well-being and happiness in societies. More research and greater scholars’ collaboration is crucial to generate solid knowledge that can satisfy this growing demand. We need, as usual, the enriching healthy debate of the academic world; we also need more collaboration across countries and cultures as well as more research from some underrepresented areas of the world. Policies for greater well-being in societies will require from researchers to develop specific knowledge about the design and implementation of private and public policies; further feedback between researchers and policy-makers is also needed. It will also be important to be open to learning from mistakes. More research requires having more researchers; it is fundamental to incorporate young scholars who are eager to do research in quality of life, well-being and happiness. I am sure that ISQOLS can provide an excellent space for these young scholars to develop their academic career.
I have been a member of the Board of Directors of ISQOLS for more than a decade; I have also acted as Vice-President of Finance and as Vice-President of External Affairs. It is now my honor to act as President; I am enthusiastic about this task because ISQOLS does not only have a noble cause but, fundamentally, because it is full of interesting, friendly, and collaborative people and, as always, it will be a great pleasure to go on working with them.