Maria Ela Atienza, Ph.D.

University of the Philippines

Address: Dept. of Political Science, 2F Silangang Palma Bldg., Africa St., University of the Philippines, Diliman

City: Quezon City - 1101

Country: Philippines

About Me:

Maria Ela L. Atienza, PhD is Professor at the Department of Political Science, University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman. She is the current Chair of the Department of Political Science as well as Editor of the Philippine Political Science Journal(the internationally refereed, Web of Science and Scopus-listed journal of the Philippine Political Science Association), and Co-Convenor of the UP Center for Integrative and Development Studies’ Program on Social and Political Change. She is former Director of the UP Third World Studies Center (2010-2013) and served as President of the Philippine Political Science Association (2007-2009).   She obtained her BA (magna cum laude) and MA degrees (1992 and 1993) both in Political Science (Honors Program), from UP Diliman; Executive Masters degree in European and International Relations (with distinction) from the Amsterdam School of International Relations, University of Amsterdam (1998); and PhD in Political Science (2003) from the Graduate School of International Cooperation Studies, Kobe University, Japan.  Professor Atienza joined the Department of Political Science in 1993 as Instructor and got promoted to Assistant Professor, Associate Professor, and now Professor. She teaches graduate and undergraduate courses on national and local politics, comparative politics of Europe, and qualitative research in political science. Her research interests and publications cover local politics and devolution, human security, health policy and politics, and women and gender issues. Her research outputs have been published by both national and international publishers and institutions. She recently served as co-investigator in the three-year project entitled “Poverty Alleviation in the Wake of Typhoon Yolanda” funded by the Economic and Social Research Council and the Department of Foreign and International Development of the United Kingdom and conducted as a partnership between the University of Nottingham and the University of the Philippines. She is currently involved in a number of research projects reviewing devolution, autonomy, and regionalization in the Philippines and performance assessment of the 1987 Constitution. Dr. Atienza is the recipient of the Gawad Chancellor for Outstanding Instructor (1999) from UP Diliman, first Young Scholar Dissertation Award (2006) from the International Society for Third Sector Research for her dissertation entitled “The Politics of Health Devolution in the Philippines with Emphasis on Experiences of Municipalities in a Devolved Set-up”, the Yasuhiro Nakasone Incentive Award (2007) from the Institute for International Policy Studies, Centennial Faculty Development Award (2011) from the UP Alumni Association-New Jersey Chapter, Centennial Professorial Chair Awards from UP Diliman, and International Publication Awards from the UP System. She is the 2014 National Research Council of the Philippines Achievement Awardee for the Social Sciences (Division VIII) and One UP Professorial Chair Awardee (2016-2018 and 2019-2021). She is also active in training programs for social sciences and political science teachers, policy staff, development workers, personnel of government agencies, and bureaucrats as well as serving as resource person on key political and social issues for several Philippine legislative committees, executive agencies, professional associations, the private sector, and media (international and local). She currently heads the UP Department of Political Science’s extension project “UP sa Halalan 2019”, which aims to provide more evidence-based data and discussions on election-related matters through social media, a project website, lectures, public fora, and media engagements.

Research Interests

Comparative Democratization

Health Politics and Policy

State and Local Politics

Comparative Political Institutions

Urban Politics

Public Policy

Local Politics

Health Policies

Federalism, Regionalism, Decentralization

Women In Politics

Public Health

Human Security

Disaster Politics

Countries of Interest



Journal Articles:

(2019) The Philippines in 2018: Broken Promises, Growing Impatience, Asian Survey

Two and a half years into the Duterte administration, the country is facing high inflation rates, weak political institutions, and political uncertainty. While there are efforts toward political reform as well as peaceful settlement of conflicts, the country remains divided, with no clear strategy for reforms or nation-building being offered.

(2015) People’s Views about Human Security in Five Philippine Municipalities, Disaster Prevention and Management

The purpose of this paper is to look into how people in risky environments define human security by using the framework of the draft human security index of the Third World Studies Center, University of the Philippines to study five municipalities. The concept of human security used here is the comprehensive definition that covers “freedom from fear” and “freedom from want” dimensions but using a more local/bottom-up perspective in getting people’s sense of security and threats/risks. As a pilot research, the paper also reveals the shortcomings of the draft index as it does not highlight yet other factors like gender, ethnicity and other sectoral identities.

Books Written:

(2019) Urban Poverty in the Wake of Environmental Disaster: Rehabilitation, Resilience and Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda), Routledge

Co-written with Pauline Eadie and May Tan-Mullins. This book investigates the best strategies for poverty alleviation in post-disaster urban environments, and the conditions necessary for the success and scaling up of these strategies. Using the case study of Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) in the Philippines, the strongest typhoon ever to make landfall, the book aims to draw out policy recommendations relevant for other middle- and lower-income countries facing similar urban environmental challenges.

Book Chapters:

(2019) Human Security in Practice: The Philippine Experience from the Perspective of Different Stakeholders, Palgrave Macmillan

From the book Human Security Norms in East Asia, edited by Yoichi Mine, Oscar A. Gómez and Ako Muto.