By Anna Meurer
A native of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, he originally studied and practiced law but eventually quit the profession. That in itself is not a particularly uncommon occurrence. But what happened next was. Shortly afterwards, he caught a ride on a sailing boat to South Africa, where he witnessed the apartheid regime firsthand and learned English. After two years, he returned to Brazil, where he earned his Masters in Political History and International Relations. A few years later, he moved to the U.S. and earned his Masters and PhD in International Relations at the University of Southern California.
In light of the world adventures, it’s hard to see how his journey brought him to a small liberal arts college in central Kentucky. He initially took a visiting position in Illinois, and while he saw openings, he says he never sent out many applications for tenure track positions. However, when he saw the opening at Georgetown, something caught his attention. Once he went for his first interview he said, “Everything just clicked.” Looking back, he said, “I found the college, and the college found me.”
Ironically, he said the fact that he spent so much time exploring is what led him to settle in Kentucky and teach. After spending so much time traveling, he found himself at peace in Kentucky. Georgetown College, in emphasizing well-roundedness, “opens opportunities…to discover new passions.”
Two and half years later, his opinion of GC hasn’t changed. He called Georgetown a “perfect fit,” from fellow faculty members to the Kentucky weather, which he loves because there are four distinct seasons. He repeatedly expressed how proud he is to be a member of the community and said he hopes to contribute something. According to his students, he’s already done just that. Shannon Harvey, a Senior Political Science major, said, “He [Silva] is awesome. His classes are quite informative, and he is really knowledgeable. Furthermore, he pushes you in all his classes and outside of the classroom greatly cares about his students.”
Currently, Dr. Silva teaches internationally-focused political science courses, including World Politics, Human Rights, Force and Security and American Foreign Policy, among others. Underlying all of his classes is the same drive for exploration and discovery that characterized his journey, which he enthusiastically supports. Very rarely will you see him lecture; instead, classes are conducted in a seminar style and encourage students to explore their specific interests and make new, innovative comments.
“Curiosity is in our human DNA,” Silva said. In fact, he finds the drive to explore so essential that next semester he is leading an Honors Reading Group on the subject. When asked why he sees discovery as a key element of learning, he said, “Learning is fulfilling the process of discovery and realizing that we can learn from its effects.”