Reasserting universities’ value will be focus of Latin America summit

Virtual event will explore how to better recognise institutions’ socio-economic contributions to region and mark launch of THE’s Latin America University Rankings 2020

June 22, 2020
Source: iStock

From years of austerity measures placed on higher education in Brazil to campus closures in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, university leaders across Latin America have consistently fought to preserve the vitally important institutions of research and teaching for their faculty and students.

Amid acute geopolitical tensions in the region, universities have often provided forums for their communities to articulate their concerns about the future while also fostering research breakthroughs.

The online Times Higher Education Latin America Universities Summit 2020, which will focus on the theme “Universities for the public good: reasserting the value of higher education post-pandemic”, aims to demonstrate how fundamental these institutions are as promoters of social progress.

The summit for leaders from across the region will begin at 0800?CST (Mexico City) on 7?July and will feature a series of online panels and masterclasses highlighting the vital socio-economic contributions of universities in Latin America.

This event will include the launch of the THE Latin America University Rankings 2020 in a masterclass led by Duncan Ross, THE’s chief data officer, revealing exclusive performance data compiled from 167 research universities across 13 countries.

Jacques Marcovitch, former rector and now professor emeritus of management and international affairs at the University of S?o Paulo, will deliver the opening keynote focusing on tertiary education’s impact in facilitating long-lasting, positive change for local communities.

“We are already seeing a greatly enhanced role for third mission and knowledge exchange activities in the current crisis – something that Latin American universities have a long, proud tradition of supplying, but have been slow to map and represent to the public,” said Professor Marcovitch.

“The Covid-19 crisis has, in many cases, unearthed vital functions that universities have long carried out. We must make sure that these are reinforced in the public imagination, presenting the university as a more comprehensive entity, rather than a place of teaching the elite."

A panel of prestigious research university leaders, including the economist Raquel Bernal, academic vice-rector of the University of the Andes, Colombia, will assess how core elements of the educational ecosystem that foster institutional excellence, such as new partnerships with the private sector, can be sustained in a period of economic recovery.

Dante Cid, Elsevier’s vice-president for academic relations in Latin America, will lead a session assessing the impact of the region’s universities, paying particular attention to how closely they align with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which have become a benchmark for institutions to chart their sustainability and relevance.

The final session will evaluate a more holistic approach to educational development, emphasising the role of the arts and humanities – traditionally undervalued and underfunded disciplines – as vital components of university curricula across Latin America.

Among other panellists, Miryam Singer, director of arts and culture at the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile, will discuss how bolstering these subjects will contribute to greater recovery efforts that help to create more opportunities for collaboration and growth, and also bring the region’s efforts to the main stage.

Phil Baty, THE’s chief knowledge officer, said: “The global economic crisis that has arisen from the public health crisis has hit the economies of Latin America particularly hard, exacerbating the hardship and instability that we’ve seen across the continent in recent years.

“But the crisis, perhaps more than ever, highlights the vital role that universities play in society – not just in the way they have rallied to tackle the pandemic itself across multiple disciplines and borders, but in the way that they will be essential in the work we need to do to mitigate the seismic longer-term effects of the crisis.”

Leah.reitman@timeshighereducation.com

Find out more and register for free to join leaders at the virtual Latin America Universities Summit on 7 July.

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