Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Joshua Rubongoya and his Time on Sabbatical

Dr. Joshua Rubongoya was on sabbatical in Fall 2021. In Fall 2022, he was granted the prestigious RC Faculty Scholar award, to continue that sabbatical work. He explained that “a sabbatical is a time of leave from teaching in order to devote time to uninterrupted research. It takes place every six or seven years in a professor’s career. As well, it offers a time of rest from the other commitments and activities on campus.”

During his time away, Dr. Rubongoya traveled to Uganda, the site of his research interest and expertise, where he worked on various scholarly and non-academic projects. According to him, the highlights of his sabbatical were founding a women’s development group, picking coffee, and writing a book chapter.

What does a typical day on sabbatical look like? For Dr. Rubongoya, sabbatical means: “Wake up, enjoy a cup of coffee, read, and write, then read and write again. Time is also devoted to field research in which interviews and surveys may be conducted. But, this routine varies depending on one’s field of study.”

Dr. Rubongoya in Uganda with the women’s development group that he founded

Dr. Rubongoya’s research interests are African political party behavior and democratic consolidation. He became interested in this because he conducted “extensive research ten years ago on a style of rule that was adopted by dominant African leaders and, in the process, developed an interest in how such governance strategies are often camouflaged under the cover of political parties. So [he] proceeded to examine how, despite the existence of party rule in Africa, autocracy remains prevalent.”

Dr. Rubongoya brings much of this research on African politics into his IR classes at Roanoke College.

A little about Dr. Rubongoya

At RC since:Fall, 1991
Field within Public Affairs: International politics with a focus on the political economy of developing states.
Favorite class to teach: Global Political Economy
Favorite aspect of your profession:“Teaching. If I am having personal challenges and I step into the classroom, they literally go away.”
Advice for RC students:“Think, ‘what and how much can I learn from this course?’ The good grade will emerge automatically.”