The growth and development of alliances in virtuality
The Office of the Vice-President for International Affairs (VRAI) was created in 2020, whose Vice-President is Midwifery Nurse, Prof. Lilian Ferrer. With her, the M.Eng. Industrial Engineer Ana María Sepúlveda was appointed as Executive Director and Head of Partnership and Development, and M.Ed. Maribel Flórez appointed as Director for Global Learning. One of the objectives of this Vice-Presidency is to be a facilitator for the UC Chile Community, to engage in collaborative work with foreign partners within international networks, aiming to make together a contribution to global well-being.
Internationalization at Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile (UC Chile) is a key component of the Development Plan of our university for the next 5 years. Academic Networks and Alliances contribute to create prosperous relationships between parties. It is evident that the current health situation has had consequences on how international collaborations evolve.
The pandemia has not been an inconvenience, but rather an opportunity to continue generating and fostering partnerships through online meetings, webinars and summits, aiming to generate a collaborative learning process around how to adapt to this new scenario.
"Deeper and more active participation in networks and the development of strategic liaisons with international partners expand academic opportunities in training, creation, and impact on society", says Ana María Sepúlveda.
Our university seeks to play a more effective role in promoting initiatives that reduce possible educational and socioeconomic gaps in society, and thus take advantage of development opportunities. "We are fully committed to continue generating, promoting and participating in collaborative spaces with a global impact. Our vision of being a Catholic University in Latin America can be a bridge that promotes local and international growth", commented Ana María Sepúlveda.
This group of 14 universities from the Americas and Caribbean was established in 2018 and since then, a strong partnership has been established through different working groups with focus on innovation, social entrepreneurship, collaborative online learning (COIL), and library collaboration. Some highlights were:
- Future Conversations ODS-COVID: This is a project promoted by UC Chile, through the Laboratory for Social Innovation (CoLab) which has the support of seven universities within the HUC. The purpose of these series of dialogues throughout the year is to give a regional perspective to the fulfillment of the 2030 Agenda, taking into account the main challenges of Latin America and the Caribbean. These talks began on March 15 and will end on December 4.
- HUC.IO Virtual research internships: This initiative seeks to connect professors and students to foster scientific collaboration and international academic experiences through different institutions with the Network. The matchmaking event to launch this project will be held this June in order to start the internships in the second (spring) semester.
- "COIL: Real Life Experiences in Virtual Collaboration”: Sharing best practices and lessons learned was the core of this activity, where Tecnológico de Monterrey, University of Miami, and University of York shared their experience with the network. It was a consensus to notice how beneficial it has been to promote and incorporate this education model during the COVID-19 pandemic.
So far, this international network adds 64 collaborative initiatives and projects that respond to 14 areas, such as architecture, design, natural sciences, engineering, social sciences, educational innovation, business, medicine, among others. During this same summit, the progress made in some of these areas was discussed among the Vice-Presidents of the three universities.
Last may, the summit of Presidents from La Triada was held, virtually for the second time in a row, since the pandemia does not allow a different format. In that meeting, there was an update on the initiatives and projects from the fields of innovation in education; architecture, design and urban studies; health sciences and research management.
Also, there was a discussion about the future challenges for the alliance.
Other regional networks where UC Chile has been participating is the Organización de Universidades Católicas de América Latina y el Caribe ODUCAL.
“We seek as a university to stay at the forefront in education and research. Our presence is essential in global networks as we contribute to the diversification of opinions and at the same time, to upgrade solutions to current problems that affect us globally. We believe that these spaces also help our entire academic community to feel challenged to participate in the search for international solutions”, says Lilian Ferrer Vice-President of International Affairs.
This group of 8 catholic universities from different continents was born in 2019. The main goal of this network is to advance world leading knowledge and higher education for the common good.
This year, besides ongoing work on gathering information about our institutions and getting to know each other, we have participated in some webinars, related with COVID-19 with the participation of Vice President Ferrer in her role of Director of the COVID-19 UC Committee; and Dr. Alexis Kalergis, professor and Director of the Millennium Institute for Immunology and Immunotherapy.
Additionally, this was organized a series of webinars oriented to reflect about the role of universities in the context of the ecological crisis, called "Integral Ecology and the Working Future: re-imagining University Education".
The participation in this network has continued its consolidation, through all working groups where we have representation. During this pandemia, we would like to highlight initiatives for extracurricular activities toward internationalization for our students.
Examples of this were the U21 Global Citizenship Programme, with the participation of 90 UC Chile students; the U21 RISE challenge, where 2 projects of social leadership made it to the finals; and the participation of 5 faculty professors and 4 professional staff in the two versions of the U21 Global Leadership Programme.
Other global networks where UC Chile has been actively participating are Centro Interuniversitario de Desarrollo (CINDA), Magalhães Network and the International Federation of Catholic Universities (FIUC) where promoting connection, sharing best practices and collaborating through virtual activities has been a rich experience.
An especial effort during this year has been to identify networks where our faculty have participation within a certain field of specialization and try to enhance the participation of our community in those spaces. Some networks were we have presence are:
- Alliance for the Arts in Research Universities (A2RU);
- Fudan-Latin America University Consortium (FLAUC);
- Partnership in International Management (PIM);
- Global Network for Advanced Management (GNAM);
- Cumulus Association;
- Oenoviti International Network;
- Red de Educación Continua de Latinoamérica y Europa (RECLA);
- Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE).