Graduate who will speak Tuesday credits Ripon education for skill sets

Alexander Arifianto '99

Alexander R. Arifianto ’99, who will be a speaker during the Center for Politics and the People presentation “Can Islam Coexist with Democracy?”⁠ Tuesday, Feb. 9, has published widely in his areas of research interest: political Islam and contemporary Indonesian politics.

He has published articles in journals such as Asia Policies, Asian Politics and Policy, Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations and Journal of Southeast Asian Economies. He also has articles in the edited volume ISEAS Perspective: Watching the Indonesian Elections 2014.

His most recent published works include volumes he co-edited, were published in October 2020 and are available on amazon.com:

Arifianto is a research fellow with the Indonesia Programme at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technological University, in Singapore. His research interests are political Islam and contemporary Indonesian politics. He previously worked with the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies in Singapore, Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, University of Notre Dame and the SMERU Research Institute in Jakarta, Indonesia.

“My current employer and most of my previous ones are either policy think tanks or research centers affiliated with a university,” Arifianto says. “I see my writing as a way to inform the public about the role of religious actors/institutions in shaping public opinion and policy.”

He says religion plays multi-faceted roles in numerous societies throughout the world. Under specific political settings, it may promote radicalism and violence, he says. However, it also can promote democracy, tolerance and peace.

“My research and writing seek to explore these different settings and apply it mainly in my study of Indonesia, but also explore the implications of religion and politics interactions in other nations elsewhere,” he says. “Ultimately, I wish to seek to promote better understanding about the role of religion – particularly Islam – among academics, policymakers and the general public.”

Arifianto majored in economics and sociology-anthropology at Ripon. He says he learned important skillsets: critical thinking, analytical reading and writing, and communication. “A liberal arts college like Ripon is able to teach these skills to its students due to its small class size and opportunities to work individually with faculty members through senior thesis, independent study, and other mentoring opportunities,” he says. “Ripon gave me the foundation for these skills that I developed further in my graduate study. Such foundations have prepared me well for a career as an academic and a research analyst.

He particularly credits the mentorship of professors Brian Smith in religion, Eric Godfrey in sociology and research methods, Bob Melville and Marty Farrell in politics and government, and Paul Schoofs in economics. “Without their sage advice and mentorship during my Ripon years and afterwards, I would not become a successful academic I am today,” he says.