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Rodolfo Baggio - Italy

Course: Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Tourism
Institute: University of Queensland
Brisbane, Queensland

Only a few universities in the world offered the kind of study experience Rodolfo Baggio was after.

Dr Baggio, a physicist and information technology specialist, was interested in applying quantitative network analysis methods to the study of tourism destinations. But...he wanted to remain in Milan teaching on the Master in Economics and Tourism at Bocconi University as he studied.

Tourism is all about relationships and it was the existing affinity with teaching staff at the University of Queensland plus shared research interests that convinced him to undertake his PhD by distance learning in the School of Tourism.

"I had already met the Head of School through work at the World Tourism Organisation and I knew about the university's good reputation," he says, "but I had never been to Australia."

Dr Baggio took the plunge, enrolled and visited Australia for two months to get to know his thesis supervisors and discuss how to proceed.

"It was on the other side of the world," he says. "I expected it to be more American but instead it felt somewhere between the UK and Europe but with an Asian influence.

"On my first night in Australia I spent hours looking at the sky. For one trained in observing stars, the first impression is a feeling to be 'lost'; you don't see familiar patterns and don't recognise constellations you are used to." But, he insists, he felt at home.

Each year, Dr Baggio would spend two months at UQ at the beginning of the first semester, which as luck would have it coincided with the Australian summer. The rest of the time he communicated via Skype and email; the 8-9 hour time difference of little consequence to the self-described "night person".

"I have a certain habit of working," he says.

Dr Baggio had already completed a thesis in astrophysics, conducted research in radio astronomy and worked extensively in information science and technology before becoming involved in tourism.

He decided on a PhD in Tourism, he says, because he was interested in doing research at a high level.

"I wanted to use my past knowledge of complex systems and networks to explain and understand the structural and dynamic characteristics of a tourism system," he explains.

"The experience at UQ strengthened my skills as a researcher on more qualitative methods I was not too accustomed to."

It also helped him retain his position at Bocconi University, and "broke" some of his perceptions.

"I started with very clear ideas," he says. "I had already published papers. I knew how to build models and conduct a study, but a PhD is different."

For Baggio, personal contact was essential, especially as he was a "remote" student spending only a limited time on campus.

"They were a wonderful group of people," he says of his colleagues at the School of Tourism.

Within a few months of enrolling at UQ Dr Baggio had begun writing his thesis. Two and a half years later he was awarded the Dean's Outstanding Thesis Award for his meticulous work.

He continues to work today on the same premise, often teaming up with his former supervisors to write papers and always "improving a little" on the research he commenced in Australia.

"In the periods I have visited Australia I have seen a wonderful country and met interesting people," he says, recalling the occasion someone described Italy as "exotic".

"Well, it's just a matter of perspective," he reflects. "We call Australia as such."

Last updated: Wednesday, 25 November 2015 11:30:01 AM

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